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date: 26 January 2021


The Oxford Companion to Music
Arnold WhittallArnold Whittall

The result of the interaction of rhythm and pitch. Both the regular articulation of time (through heartbeat, breathing) and the capacity to produce and recognize variations in the frequency of sound are normal physiological characteristics of humankind. The functions that define melody overlap with those used to define human speech, so that both may be regarded as fundamental capacities of the species. Whereas speech is a form of communication, melody in all human cultures has been used typically as a form of emotional expression. This use of melody may also be a capacity of other animals, since birds and dolphins, for example, produce organized sequences of varied pitch.... ...

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