Music and Lyrics Interactions and their Influence on Recognition of Sung Words: An Investigation of Word Frequency, Rhyme, Metric Stress, Vocal Timbre, Melisma, and Repetition Priming
Keywords:intelligibility, singing, lyrics, text setting
AbstractThis study investigated several factors presumed to influence the intelligibility of song lyrics. Twenty-seven participants listened to recordings of musical passages sung in English; each passage consisted of a brief musical phrase sung by a solo voice. Six vocalists produced the corpus of sung phrases. Eight hypotheses derived from common phonological and prosodic principles were tested. Intelligibility of lyrics was degraded: (i) when archaic language was used; (ii) when words were set in melismatic rather than syllabic contexts; (iii) when the musical rhythm did not match the prosodic speech rhythm; and (iv) when successive target words rhymed. Intelligibility of lyrics was facilitated: (i) when words contained diphthongs rather than monophthongs; (ii) when a word from an immediately previous passage reappeared; (iii) when a syllabic setting of a word was preceded by a melismatic setting of the same word. No difference in word intelligibility was observed between music theater singers and opera singers.
Copyright (c) 2014 Randolph B. Johnson, David Huron, Lauren Collister
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.