How Rhythm and Timbre Encode Mooré Language in Bendré Drummed Speech

Laure Dentel, Julien Meyer

Human languages have the flexibility to be acoustically adapted to the context of communication, such as in shouting or whispering. Drummed forms of languages represent one of the most extreme natural expressions of such speech adaptability. A large amount of research has been conducted on drummed languages in anthropology or linguistics, particularly in West African societies. However, in spite of the clearly rhythmic nature of drumming, previous studies have largely neglected exploring systematically the role of speech rhythm. Here, we explore a unique corpus of the Bendré drummed speech form of the Mossi people, transcribed published in the 80’s by the anthropologist Kawada Junzo. The analysis of this large database in Mooré language reveals that the rhythmic units encoded in the length of pauses between drumbeats match more closely with vowel-to-vowel intervals than with syllable parsing. Meanwhile, we confirm for the first time a result found recently on the drummed speech tradition of the Bora Amazonian language. However, the complex acoustic structure of the Bendré skin drum required much more attention than the simple two pitch hollow log drum of the Bora. Thus, we also present here results on how drummed Bendré timbre encodes tones of Mooré language.

 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2020-2532

Cite as: Dentel, L., Meyer, J. (2020) How Rhythm and Timbre Encode Mooré Language in Bendré Drummed Speech. Proc. Interspeech 2020, 1898-1902, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2020-2532.

  author={Laure Dentel and Julien Meyer},
  title={{How Rhythm and Timbre Encode Mooré Language in Bendré Drummed Speech}},
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2020},