Finding Rhythm in Speech: A Response to Cummins
Creators:Moore, Roger K.
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Publisher:Empirical Musicology Review
Citation:Empirical Musicology Review, v7 n1-2 (Jan-Apr 2012), 36-44
This paper attempts to address three critical questions left unanswered by Cummins’ review: are rhythm and entrainment physical, perceptual or social phenomena, what are the underlying mechanisms, and what is their role in behaviour such as speech and music? These issues are addressed from the perspective of an engineer/computer-scientist/ roboticist for whom modelling such behaviours within a computational framework not only provides an empirical methodology for validating theoretical claims, but also facilitates the construction of artificial devices that are capable of exhibiting/exploiting those behaviours in the context of human-machine interaction. The paper draws on insights from a range of different perspectives, and attempts to weave them together within a coherent theoretical framework. It is concluded that (i) rhythm and entrainment are phenomena that emerge naturally from the structural coupling within and between even simple systems, (ii) living systems have evolved very effective mechanisms for managing such behaviours for intrinsic and extrinsic gains, and (iii) the fields of energetics and information theory provide the appropriate tools for analysing and characterising such behaviour within a general theoretical framework. It is hoped that these insights will inspire future cross- disciplinary research in these areas, and lead to a deeper understanding of these fundamental behaviours.
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