Do musicians speak differently? Preliminary results of a production study

Noam Amir, Sharon Bolle Fridman, Ortal Shakeman, Nofar Shuli, Avi Karni

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Previous research has shown that professional musicians demonstrate superior auditory skills in a range of psychoacoustic and musically related auditory tasks. This heightened acuity has been shown to carry over to speech-oriented auditory tasks. Here, however, we set out to examine whether a strong musical background affects speech production, specifically, in expressing contrastive narrow focus when answering a question. Eight musicians and eight non-musicians were recorded answering 24 questions by 4-word sentences with an elicited narrow focus on one of the words. The productions were evaluated by two panels of listeners (experienced and inexperienced) who were asked to judge whether a specific word was emphasized in each utterance, and to what degree. Results showed a significant difference in judgments between the two groups of listeners, and a significant interaction with word position within the utterance. Regardless of listening group and word position, a consistent trend was observed; emphasis was judged stronger for musicians, although the difference was not statistically significant. We ascribe the lack of significance mainly to the small sample size, and intend to extend the study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-595
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the International Conference on Speech Prosody
StatePublished - 2020
Event10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020 - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 25 May 202028 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Speech Communications Association. All rights reserved.


  • Musicians
  • Narrow focus
  • Perception
  • Prominence
  • Speech production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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