Connections between linguistic and musical sound systems of British and American trombonists

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Katie A. Cox (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Randy Kohlenberg

Abstract: The purpose of this study was twofold: first, to determine whether measurable and perceptible differences between American and British trombonists exist; second, to determine whether any of these measurable differences correlate in any way with established differences between American English and British English speech. The specific correlation between trombone sustain timbre and spoken vowels will be considered using American and British subjects in large groups, smaller dialect subgroups, and individually. In addition, the manufacturing origin of the trombone will be considered, to determine whether any differences are attributable to the instrument rather than the player. Current research that specifically considers instrumental timbre as related to speech does not yet exist. However, the fields of acoustics, linguistics, and music cognition have produced studies that informed the background assumptions of this project. American and British trombone player participants were asked to complete a series of five tasks. These tasks included two playing conditions, two speaking conditions, and one listening test. Following the completion of the project, the data was organized and analyzed to address the two objectives of the study. The first question, that of a perceptible difference, was tested by asking participants to identify whether recordings were performed by American artists or not. Subjects in this project were unable to do so, but did exhibit a preference for those recordings that they believed were performed by artists from their own dialect group. The second question, that of measurable differences relating to language, was addressed by creating a two formant spatial plot for each large dialect group, as well as dialect sub-groups and individuals. These showed that a measurable difference in timbre does exist, and that it can be related to the corresponding differences in speech. When considering whether the player or his/her choice of instrument produced this effect, recordings showed that both the player and the instrument impacted the timbre inventory, although the effect of the player was much stronger than that of the instrument.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
American trombonists, British trombonists, Linguistics
Trombonists $z United States
Trombonists $z England
Music and language

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