Musical elements in human infants cries: In the beginning is the melody
Wermke, K. & Mende, W. (2009). Musical elements in human infants cries: In the beginning is the melody. Musicae Scientiae, Special issue 2009-2010, 151-175.
Crying is the earliest sound production of human infants on their long way toward language. Here, we argue that infants' early crying contains melodic constituents for both musical and prosodic structures. This view is based on our findings that cry melodies become increasingly complex during the first months of life and, that complex cry melodies are composed of shape-specific melody arcs. We found that cry melodies contain frequency ratios that show a certain preference of musical intervals. We also observed that young infants are capable of uttering shape-similar melody arcs at different frequency levels, that means they have an aptitude for frequency transposition from birth on. Moreover, we observed that the production of phonatory breaks within single expiratory sounds generates rhythmical elements and points to a flexible time organization. Our data support the view that in crying elementary constituents of both musicality and language faculty are unfolding. The results may elucidate the relation between emotionally charged sounds and music respectively language and suggest direction for further research. ...
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