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The influence of mother tongue on young children’s rhythmic behaviour in singing

Azechi, N; (2016) The influence of mother tongue on young children’s rhythmic behaviour in singing. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Singing and speaking are closely allied to one other. They are both produced by the same anatomical structures within the human body, although the coordination with the neuroanatomy is differentiated between speech and song. For the young child, existing literature suggests that the border between singing and speaking is opaque, at least in the early years of human life. In order to understand the relationship (if any) between mother tongue in speech and children’s singing, a series of empirical studies was undertaken. In the first of these, a specialist rhythmic and linguistic analysis tool (nPVI) was applied to participant three- to five-year-old Japanese and English children’s singing of well-known songs. Two subsequent studies explored (2) the rhythmic basis of Japanese and English children’s printed song materials and (3) adults’ hand clapping of their remembered children’s songs from their childhood. Data analyses revealed that children’s singing development appears to be influenced in two dimensions by their mother tongue. One is through a direct influence of the mother tongue’s underlying rhythm (a distinctive characteristic of spoken language), and the other is an influence from the rhythm of the song materials that are common in the home culture. From the analysis of young children’s actual singing, it was found that the underlying rhythmic bias of the home language was differentially related to the singing behaviour according to age and location (England or Japan). Another finding was an apparent preference for certain rhythm patterns within each language group. From the analysis of printed song material, different trends in rhythmic structure were found in Japanese and English children’s songs. The influence of the home language rhythm appeared to be more direct in English songs, but not in Japanese songs. In particular, the difference between the bias towards an equal-timed rhythm of the Japanese language and the “childlike” nature of the songs brought an intensive use of the 3:1 dotted rhythm pattern. The common use of dotted rhythm was also linked to the double structure of Japanese language rhythm. This bias was also confirmed by an analysis of example hand clapping of children’s songs by participant adults in the third study. Overall, the data suggest that any relationship between mother tongue and singing is culturally located and also developmental in nature.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The influence of mother tongue on young children’s rhythmic behaviour in singing
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1485666
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