Fabpulses: Distance between spoken pitch and “perfect pitch”

What is the distance between the basic frequency (pitch) in spoken language and the pitch as defined by the equal tempered scale?

I made a  screenshot of a first test plot of the distance between the basic pitch in a  spoken sentence and its nearest frequency as defined by this musical scale. The sentence is taken from a recent show of This American Life, in which Ira Glass utters the sentence “Do you have a copy of your book eh Please, read this for me” there with you?“.

How did I do this? I first calculated the basic pitches with Praat, a program which was created to do speechanalyses. The frequencies that I extracted from this program, I then used to calculate the nearest neighbors and frequency distances, which I at the end plotted in this beautiful graph.

Pitch in real speech compared to "perfect pitch". The pink area shows the spoken pitch frequencies and the red stars are the musical pitch closest to it.

(By the way, sorry for just throwing this picture on the web, without much detailed information nor analyses. It’s a bit rude maybe, but it’s mainly for my personal use and furthermore a much deeper analyses, than which I will give in the next paragraph  is not even possible yet :).)

Initially, when I started doing some calculations by hand, I thought that the distances between both frequencies were quit large. But after plotting some real distances, the frequencies for the spoken syllables don’t even seem that far from the musical pitches after all. The distances between the two are, generally, not larger than 10 Hz. That is not too much, as it means that the distance generally does not surpass a third of the distance between the next higher or lower musical pitch.  I think that distance would classify the spoken syllable merely as a ‘blue note’. Which actually might show how close Jazz really is to spoken language! That’s exciting!

More on all this will follow in the next weeks. And when I find some spare time the next days, I might write a bit more about all this Fabpulses posts are actually about.

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