Effect of language of origin on improvisational jazz

Harrison Goldberg, The College of Wooster


The goal of the present study was to attempt to elucidate the connection between language and music. This relationship was examined through comparing an analysis of the rhythmic qualities of French and English speech to an analysis of the rhythmic qualities of improvised jazz music produced by French and American jazz musicians. The durational variability of each of these mediums was assessed by utilizing a measure known as nPVI, which allows the assessment of rhythmic variation in language and music to be directly comparable. 50 pieces of French and 50 pieces of American jazz were analyzed and compared using an independent samples t-test. The results of the test indicated a significant difference in nPVI and a second measure, points, between the two groups. These findings support the results reported in previous research while examining a new and distinct style of music. This strengthens the plausibility of a behavioral and possibly neurological connection between language and music, and calls for further research on the subject.