Rhythmic variability in language and music of Latino and Latino-inspired composers


RECENTLY, RESEARCHERS HAVE INVESTIGATED THE influence of composers' native speech prosody on the variability of rhythmic patterns found in their music. The normalized pairwise variability index (nPVI) provides a relative criterion for comparing the contrastiveness of successive durations in language and music. This study extends prior research by assessing rhythmic relationships in Latino-inspired and traditional Western art music written by six composers whose native languages are either stress-timed (Copland, Glinka, Liszt) or syllable-timed (Ponce, Villa-Lobos, Albéniz). After analysis of 529 musical themes representing 52 works, results suggest that Latino and Western prosodic associations transcend the vernacular.With the exception of Glinka, non-Latino composers typically used more contrastive rhythmic patterns in their standard repertoire and drastically decreased rhythmic contrastiveness in their evocative Latino music. Similarly, Latino composers employed greater rhythmic contrast in their Western-styled works and less contrast in their vernacular Latino music. This empirical evidence indicates that, consciously or subconsciously, composers may alter the rhythmic variability of their "exotic" music to conform to the prosody of a corresponding nonnative language.

Publication Title

Music Perception