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LANGUAGE AS MUSIC BUILDING AN ARCHITECTURE OF SOUND HELEN HALL Three years ago while studying non- Indo-European language structures, | became in {rigued with the underlying structural principles that are universal to ll languages, and the implications of these principles both for the understanding of vocal sounds as acoustic phenomena and as a model tor structuring these sounds Into some sort of tim bral syntax, In linguistics, language is deconstructed into sonic patterns of vowels and con: sonants. When semantic constraints are released, all languages can provide an infinite resource of vocal sounds that can be organized along a continuum of sound colour, of timbre to create transformation and contrast in music. The human voice is the acoustic instrument with the greatest potential for timbral transformation, and the sound source for which we have the richest structural com: prehension. In the rich and varied tradition of sacrad chant, vocal music is structured as stream of vowels and consonants. This is also true’ of the ancient tradition of Bulgarian singing which is based on the drone principle — words are sung on a single, ‘epeated pitch, with continuous changes in timbre created by changing patterns of vowels. INTERNATIONAL PHONETIC ALPHABET International Phonetic Alphabet was Aaveloped bythe International Phonetic Associa tlom asa et of universal eymbots forthe ransce ‘cates that tne souna is unvoiead. Un iced taugh oration of the vocal \oieed sounds ate produced win an in chords. \ensive steam of treat, oo tnealea 2 olces _soung Unvlees in" detonoraed 1 vowel colour is brates. of ‘ablopered rather than sounding. = slottal stop sore second sound is not Separately aicuates {9 —asintve {1 blabia ing ou lw —asingue 1B) —as in hill — unmodulate, intensiteg breath 18) —yolcea {a} — a6 Seoitish teh, i} — a8 nbe. {i} — voiced i, a8 in Outen My — as innymn Ma asintey &) — anon iptnong Uy —asinyes. [= as in sik {eh — a8 n open, Ah feet as onginat, bbl 3s nora {n} — urvounded, closest (2) = asin French peu = fe in mits, fee ste men {a}— lablodontalin.as in Gorman sent. (ey — as in Frenen peur tal a8 in nine i — as nao. bala i canyon [ol~ as input {o)—as inving [ph — sen French menu = Gla ormeaat he very back othe [ii = mote open a8 in German tian oral eat, ‘CONSONANTS: i) — asin bea Tal — asin German ie, [k= asin mae. (aj —asinao. Te — asin ne Fas!~ combination of ujand| as in beds. te) asin en lasi~ asin just. ISICWORKS 38 4 Hutdogard Von Bingen: Enaing ofan aniphon Through an understanding of the spectral con tent of sound linguists ave discovered the strc {oral volo! vowels and consonants creating the sound shape of language. Acousiic phonetics feveals the rola of sound colour, or tmbre In eating the underlying sound stuctores, The woiee is @ complex sound consisting of a fundamental requeney and_up to twenty hat ‘monies. Harmon ce ar the result of sound waves Set inmotion, al ibraing at aillerent speeds Frequencies Spectal analysis of vocal sounds provides an acoustic mapping ofthe underiving coun true {ures of inguistie signe and symbols, Each vowel Tepresents. a characteristic spectrom The phonetic quality of vowels is cetermined by tains of nde reaanace a specie teauer ‘resonating chambers within the vocal tact Meas Sng chest, which act as mullirasonance lito’ as Gononena arth rest apie charses Sno piace inthe timbra stream. Sins hava & hgh note content similar the atack naracteraes from the Greck “ahonems, meaning "sound Phonomes are the smallest segments cf dunt that can be separated by thair contrast wis ‘words. There. are approximately twenty toasty Bhonemes in any given language WINTER TREES Inmy piece Winter Tres, vowels exactes tom 1 boom by ya Path orchestrate the music 9 ing ech fundamental pitch a specie aay ot tezonating spectral siemens The acoustic bo partes of he voices wo sopranos and alto) are Eombineswitn the acoustic properties ofthe hres axophone bassoon sndealo the compositional sivclure The poss ted in sucha way that the eat moves rely Da. ‘wean sound and meaning, focusing at times on hain, alowing ted of meaning 8 fog the assorances® and chesonances to. wash through fas the volces Become submerged nto theteture The ext rovgesaexicon of angvage Sounds, a8 well as atead of meaning The tirat section contains words and phrases feom the tust par of the text The succession ot ‘words is based onthe spectral contnt ot vowels, The meaning. Is. ambiguous, as some words ‘merge rom he texture The pace begins wth he ‘owe! asingle voce concentrated on «Poin Ot Fesonance in mregister with ths range a4 Starting pain, there's gracual widening ofthe Spectrum above and below lal asthe second an {hia volces move within a close toquency range Bl the conta piten The movement of sounds 4 ‘raduai transformation Intimbre and texture tor Spectally simple to specrally complex. This Is followed by a section of contrasting vocal sounds a tiuations and jaw re, Ulsations are perce aye tra aap late ‘hldren make when iatating sheep, This sounds produced with combination of creaky woe (pa tal constition of the larynx, fesultingina low pitched, creaky sound) anc glotl stop (otal con Etiction ofthelaryns) Ths articulation suits 9 ‘movement rama wide specttum toa aatow spec ra ley ~—-— $1 = hi po hi — dsix nyi dae gian pa of dk Sey me of to -- = E 4 damgeecuratna mendalatan niga feya ov ‘rum, Ullations are common in Bulgarian vocst ‘music and lao appear in the music of Montara id goat tls. The spectrum widens again with Jaw irl — wie viratos created with relaxed Jaw on the phonemes wi: £1 ki). The movement {o's sound ereates a aif in spectral energy 10 the high endo the specttum, andthe moverent of volcas and inetuments creates alayring ot spec- fl density, laalng toa concentration of special tnoray in tho high Hrequeney range Wit graaually Sescending ta Fi. 1) The second segment ofthe text is presented a ‘chants inthis secon tis the meaning of the ‘words that is structurally significant, The rhythm ‘tte chant follows the natural rhythm o the txt ‘The final section Isa Waltonal allie) setting of text and music. with ph ‘resented potyahenicaly Inte point the text lips In and out of mesning. a Bases alternately emofge om, of are submary {rinto the texture: The overall shape cf the piece {San evolution trom a sing svand nto, Continuously ‘changing stteam of vowel, pet ussivevoral sounds, and spoken and ung text WINTER TREES Te wet daa inks ate doing tne bive assole On nat bitter ot tog the tees, Stem cotamcal rang = Memories growing hg on 9g eres of woaangs. Knowing nether abortions nor bitcery Tuer than women, Ft ming namo, mother ot taves and sweetness $e enacows of ingdoves chanting, But easing nothing Syivia Plain tave | dawn | wet isco | inks on | memories ting weddings woes a fm foe a o Fo.) ULULATIONS ears eee es (Chant for Mandala Caremony Tibetan Gelupa sect,” PHOTOSKIA is a workinprogress for solo tape fn thats baced on the acoustic proper: ties ofthe vowels a, a anil which ave treated ‘3s anarmoni progression. Thoterm narmonlepro- {ression, when usod In tis content rotors ot toa arescluton of is poesived a8 gradual Transition is imbre trom the low, grave dark sound ‘of alto the igh, acuta, bight sound of il Where Ina move Wadtional contest harmonic progres. Sons ere ardored to create tension and release {his progression creates a slow evolution in fre: {quency structure tna does nt require resolution. ‘The sound soutces forthe tape ae acoustic i> stamens: volin, eo Soprane voice, and tenor vce. T GT inaividualnstuments orchestrates he vowels, Composing the characteristic timore within each ‘towel sound. The scovetic sounds are not elec Iromieay moaiied changes in timbre result tom the layering of sounds into single ony, vowel sound | did spectral analysis of each vowal sound with spectrograms, Wacing the formant ajectory from fy 10 fH. A Seles of upto twenlyone har ‘monies was eonsttcled.n the fun Sh each vowel, n ths case te pitches 8 “wirin te tange o each instrument Eden pitch Soros, withthe se of the tape speed variation ontroton the tape recorder. Te tuning ofeach In ‘vidual narmontc to an acoustically tre interval Semieved through gfacual silts in timre erste By siting vowel qualities and orenestraion Proteskia 8 a Greek word meaning hese — 2400 1800 1200 — — oo; — — d Ca a Formant trajectory, PHOTOSKIA. 1 Tibetan chant, changes in timbre are contoles Dy sequences o! vowele and consonants. TIBETAN CHANT AND HARMONIC SINGING Inthe traditionot Room singing ia Mongol and “sacred chant In Tibet, singers work consciously ‘wth the. physics of sound vibrations and the potceptual quali requived both to produce the bunds and to heat them. Each singe produces 3 fundamental ote In the extrema base register {around 602}, and by changing ne position othe Tarynx ana jam, and tbe shape ofthe mouth with the tongue, cheeks, and lps, produces a whole Spectrum oi sound rom tne armonie series one fing fundamental note. Spectral elament. a brought into the foreground they are not simoly folowing the Tundamental note. The harmonic Content of words 6 then brought fo fe and ex: perienced physically as sound vibrations Oiterant Ftmonice, or areas of resonance are empasized ‘ith citteront vowel progressions Davia Hykes, toundersivecor of the Harmonic (Choir describes harmonic singing as ullding an ‘rchitccture of sound above a sung note. The se tice of harmonic singing volves several the ist sage sto produce ine sequence Inileb(a}fik{y moving om a nacalized, closed Sohsonsnt though an ascending progression of Soweis. It's. important to teal he wibrations Dryslealy, imine oor inthe ai Hearing tne upper harmonics of the sung vowels 1s_an important prerequisite o actually proaveing he sounes Hat ‘monic singing involwsa sees ol moral arto mations trough changes in pitch fester ane Spectral elements. ‘BSSECONDS > ‘MUSICWORKS 38 OVE NEVESTI rite woe tone dey donee aoe BULGARIAN SONG Bulgarian singing is an ancient tradition tna stil cantinves. The music i radtonaly sung Dy Stomen. Vocal sounds that are characteristic of Bulgarian singing ee ulations, naslied tone ually (ginal dev.ops 0 that women cous Singers ate aves soinatone sings ne meloay, and woot more sing 2 second pat that Tunetions as a drone ve Nevests is @ characteristic example of a Bulgarian song. ts antiphonal wo groups of Singers answer one anatne in alternation] angin & ‘dapnonic(twovlee) mode. Voces are In a rogram the Sound segments 1g of vowols and” coneonants. ‘The Bhoneme boundaries ae datine, and re blued flyin the tanstion fom ji to }wmere the high formant aea o i soscands tbl STOICHEIA According to the Ancient Greeks, the origin ot gramear ws nt te gama at. te both imvaved the organization of fone: one aco Ging to verbal reason and the otperacearcing "2 ang grammar were thought actions trom an ogi ve Dalimusies unity Stoienete tn ‘saxophones, Cello, bass, and two percussionist. {Wis basod on a progression of vowels, beginning wih lina ow repster nd progressing tal {cane tinaly te The acoustic properties of owels are formdstermining pare. The ‘Stuments and voices combine inthe fet section {orrinfoes en unbroken stream of vowels with a continuously expanding registra fed. Tis move ‘ment of vowels nas determined the spect! form of the piece (Fig 3) Timbra transtormations ot ‘owels are crested with the additions ot naaalze tion and consonants, creating phoveines Hom Bulgarian singing. Consonants are algo used to ‘reat distinc phoneme boundaries, eno seve {ste myth, Uiviatons function i creete tans tlons to percussive sections with narrow spectra Hela. The ‘inal section te denge textural a cumulation of vowels fa, a. and Ui inl fv ‘olees. The piece enaa wit’ gradual tiering ‘own of he spectral iis, unt te voiced sso fntoa single spectral strand with ine closed conse fant fg 2 _BVENEVESH, iat tase (ron pr tk | ace as |x 8 Gineey pm ces lan me goer 25 SECONDS — ~s ‘aie 1 pe i 25SECONDS + : — na | STOICHEIA Voloes should use very ite vor paral sihtoht angina ede cao. harmonies gi Stang preceded ‘by — harmonic singing: fundamental lowest ‘otehs proguced with upper constriction of laryne rented by a combination of Jaw shouldbe relaxed, Et bow on open stings near the ido. teaopen ~ i preceaea by snglenote, that notes held for the duration of the line. note group, the note Group te repeated at the indicated Speed for the duration o he line AUT, ‘ertaky woe’ “and “glottal stop, i resulting in repeated, percussive ar circular bowing near the bridge of me F2 4 @ ~ bass; sound shouts be unbroken, with Continuous changes In harmonics on at stings. oa 11.0. — percussive eect with bouncing wood tales Ten Fac recall STUICHEIA: texts accu fier Rieder] weied oe ‘MuSICWORKS 38 k ® 25 EcoNDS—~ —— Fi. PHONEMES FROM BULGARIAN SINGING 25 SECONDS ~ — Fe S'FORMANT: 25SECONDS— Fig. 6 NOISEBAND CREATED BY CONSONANTS JS)—| ————— ae a g “Bg a | nu oa a : =a a : S| i 3 ae 3 a | : B | SRECTROGRANE eo a aS spectrograms, aramade wth sn instrument called ound spectrograph the, example. shown Ungulstc Department ot McGill Univesity Vocal {couse engineer, recorded my voice onto ana. track tape recorder Inthe adloling room an the by s bank of electroacoustic Titers. The output trom the Titers gows to heal stylus whieh butns varying degrees of darkness around a revoling rum. and the resulting pater that appears on Bape’ scales pectotam. The special con {he impression Formante appear as ds noraon {atbands onthe spectrogram, nthe ow end ofthe Hequeney opoctrum between Sand 3500" (F1.5) rox 3600 to 8000 a. shows In gonaal sn uneven ‘Sistibubon of sound over a prester bandwidth ‘This isthe rawul of consonantal noises produced ‘uring speech by lips wet, anc the back ofthe tongue. (Fg. €) Seclroprams of speech sounds foveal olganea patterns of formants ane noise Sionces are the tesut ofthe spacing ot word Sounderes, a8 wall as nteruptions inthe How ot ‘sound caused by stop consonants EXPLANATION OF THE FORMANT CHARTS In formant charts, each symbol represents an freaency ofthe tt formant is shown oo te vr teal axe, plotted against the frequencies of the fret and second formant on the horzontel ais, Tinguste to indicate the. auditory qualities ot vowels Vowel symbols te arangad fom left to ight to correspang with the tron to Back ders Sion ofthe oral cavity. Secondary articulations ae Placea incolumas, folowing te prmaty place a. Tvtation: The primary organization's by decreas ing dares of scr The diagram ugh cx tng nt hem. tag the back Frequencies are arranged according to the mel Seale, n which perceptually equal rtrvals are represented as equal slstances slong the high 10¢0 00 do + + front Vowois, winter Trees, 'O™ 2000 14001900 800 Ethiopia) =e 10 Vowels, Amharik(semitic language language of distance between first ‘and second formant ~™ + 200 22 Frequency of 400 first formant, 800 back 700 200 “0 2090 1400 00 500 Vonsls,Stoleheis, 4 00 | 0 Fey, L Vowels. Ohuoive {oli line = higher st, dotted ln 1000 e090 600400 MusicWoRKS 38 LANGUAGE AS MUSIC ‘Thore is cutenty a resurgence of poetry and theatee that cross the boundary of languege os abstract acoustic sound and language a ear ing. Rhythm and music ae eassatial fo the otal {xis of Montreal slaywright Rene Denlel Dubos. ins play Don’ Blame ine Beceuis ne language sounds of Itllan, German and English creates Counterpoint ot’ rhythms. and. simultaneous ‘melocie tines, resulting ina dense polyphon tx {ro and an intensities declamatory foro vroat boxpression Martin Kevan describes the wor Don't Blame the Bedouin sa poste ay for Rete and as seh should be ead ld. Ory {rom these reaaing of accents be avowes Dubois explores the concept of tan music recalling a concept of ang ttaved back to Sopnocles and anion Gr Inhis work 24, the American post LoulsZukot shy arranged his witings info» fvepart score Each part was concoWved as an independent voice Handel's music leone vice and the other four voices are thematic arvengements of Zukosky's lwltings suchas tought, dram, stor, and pow. ‘itn the American fanguage. as basic source ‘material, Zukotsky organized the. text into Simuitaneous melodie Hines, n which te esting harmony and counterpoint is as important as the ‘meaning of each Inainual line Poetry Is sonic art form in which timbre is @ ‘mach stonger parameter than piten inthe situs turing of form The form bearing elements. in Speceh are vowels ang consonants, and ne stu {uring of hese sone elamenta time is hythr In tho English language, pton s not a significant Stuctufal parameter it functions. mainly in ‘rouping. sounds into phrases, and. cor ‘ntating meaning, TONE LANGUAGES In tone languages, for example Vietnamese ana Cantonese andthe rican languages Yorubs on ‘be, tone is phonemic, afecting. the lexical oF ‘rammatical mes tihich Tones occur within a txed range [egister ane languages. Yoruba isa W {Srelangage wiht ater alot on oF tow bana rr 8 ‘Vows systems in African languages, Turkish Finns, Ringwian ana Wergoan Me pats ‘thor vowels. Vows! systems of hese Vanguagos fave nine oto aifterent vowela, in two harmony fats. Often the vowels ae. divded ino” har ‘onyiaisharmony on the bats of the place oa: Hiclation front, ack, ote) According tothe patterns of vowel harmony in Mongolian a werk may contain only he wwe {eh (tf. 0F oF (of. Tre ‘wel i and are noviral since they foiow st In Duotve, a language of Kenya, the vowels of Corresponding vowels of the other set and have has the impressionistic qualties 0! hard crea, or assy. CONCLUSIONS AND SPECULATIONS xloring now sounds ate assembled in language eyntax mious the level of meaning) and the ungeriving psyenologeal structures of speech perception could pint tan understanding ot Mow Sound ‘stteams ae’ formed” how sounds are Gfouped in ther “original” contest. The Beychological structures, underying the percen ton at speech nave implications forthe ereaton ot Gotermining atemant. A. compositional syntax ould be dovelopas through the eration of groups fang sub-groups. of ‘similar sounds, based on Snatysis of their “acoustic properties An Understanding of the spectial morphologies of Speech could also be applied (0 the structural {rganization of all sound — with language ss a pereeptval moae In Winter Trees and Stolehela, | was working withthe acoustic qualities of oma ang come Ing vocal and instrumental sounds fo create tf Sion of timbre. Consonants ware vse primary for tren prushivequaiyandnoia conten wou be interesting to. explore consonants, ‘arkar, 0 create rythm structures, Sound pat ‘ome could be dovelopod based on the system of ngus ppoatans, unin rane anguoge Vocal sounds ftom all languages. and vocal ‘music can contibute 10 create anew sonic Neeabulary for'an emerging a NoTes 1. Poter Hamel: Through Music To The Salt. Col frado, 1976, 216 uoncis 3. Assonance eters 10 2 epetiion of vowels, nai 4 Sylva Path: Winter Trees, London: Faber anc Faber, 1971 5 Marin Kevan, Quebec Voices: Three Pl Robert Watace eto, ne, Dubot Bay, Dor Blame the Bedours & publsted inns Sook 1906, ©. Leon Jaccbson, tas in Vowel Harmony. 187 Feber vage, Exton Benjamin 8 Asa. ELEN HALL was bomin Mona! Sh muons com item Bjorn and Cortard Huber, and wh 2etdes lanes of McG Unversity. She curenty Iv ing ana working Montoa! a @Weelance camposer fn volved 0 research inf language suns 400 Structures m preparation fora lage ware using ves ‘And itis possibie in imaginai 8 speech of all graphic elements, it become a movernent of sounds. this musical horizon of poetry that permits anybody who does not know Greek {o listen and get something out of the poetry of Homer: {0 ‘tune in’ to the human tradition, {ots voice which has developed among the sounds of natural things, and thus escape the confines of a time and place, 4s one hardly ever escapes them in studying Homer's grammar. Louis Zuhotshy: Statement for Posty 1950, WusicwoRKS 30 ‘ IMPROVISING SO And it is pe in imagination ‘to divorce speech of all graphic elements, : tis let it become a movement of sounds. the sounds o} ue and thus. for Poetry 1950.