Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 08 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article provides an overview on two human universal features, music and language, which can be vocal, gestural, and written down. Both are hierarchically structured, being constituted by acoustic elements (words or tones) that are combined into phrases (utterances or melodies), which can be further combined to make language or musical events. The languages and musical styles can be described as forming families within which patterns of descent, blending, and development can be reconstructed. Communication with babies and infants has a particularly high degree of musicality. This is known as infant-directed speech (IDS) or “motherese”. The key characteristics of IDS are the extended articulation of vowels, heightened pitch, and exaggerated pitch contours. Several researches has shown that these are not simply used to facilitate the acquisition of language by infants but the musicality of speech has its own function in terms of its emotional impact on the infant. The infantile musical capacities could be a spin-off from language acquisition and the musicality of IDS is considered to be critical to the acquisition of language. The studies of those suffering from brain damage or congenital conditions show that music and language have significant degrees of independence in the brain, even a double dissociation.

Keywords: music, language, infant-directed speech, brain, musicality

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.