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Ani Patel, The Neurosciences Institute, USA: "Relations between linguistic and nonlinguistic sound systems: Empirical studies"

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This lecture is co-sponsored by CRLMB.

  • Distinguished Lecture
When Apr 21, 2011
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Clara Lichtenstein Recital Hall (C-209), Strathcona Music Building, 555 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal
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Spoken languages and nonverbal music have many obvious differences.  Yet hidden connections are increasingly being discovered between these sound systems, and exploring these connections is proving valuable to the study of human cognition.  I will illustrate these points with two empirical lines of research.  The first is an acoustic and perceptual study of drum sounds and drum vocables (nonsense syllables) in the North Indian tabla.  I will argue that the tabla tradition has succeeded in creating a timbre-based musical system (akin to Schoenberg’s idea of “Klangfarbenmelodie”) by implicitly using linguistic principles for constructing drum sounds and organizing sound sequences.  The second line of research examines rhythm perception in a cross-cultural perspective.  We have found that native speakers of English and Japanese perceive simple nonlinguistic rhythms in different ways.  This challenges a century-old “law” of auditory perception, and suggests that the native language can deeply shape how we hear nonlinguistic sounds.


Aniruddh D. Patel received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University.  He joined The Neurosciences Institute in 1997, where he is now the Esther J. Burnham Senior Fellow.  His research focuses on how the brain processes music and language, especially what the similarities and differences between the two reveal about each other and about the brain itself.  He has pursued this topic with a variety of techniques, including neuroimaging, theoretical analyses, acoustic research, and comparative studies of nonhuman animals.  He has published over 40 research articles and a scholarly book (Music, Language, and the Brain, 2008, Oxford Univ. Press), which won the 2008 ASCAP Deems-Taylor Award.  He was awarded the 2009 Music Has Power award from the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function in New York City.  He is president of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (2009-2011), and is interested in promoting student involvement in the field of music cognition.





APA video citation:

Patel, A. (2012, November 2). Relations between linguistic and nonlinguistic sound systems: Empirical studies -
CIRMMT Distinguished Lectures in the Science and Technology of Music. [Video file].
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