Tonality in Language: The Generative Theory of Tonal Music as a Framework for Prosodic Analysis of Poetry

Hussein Hussein, Burkhard Meyer-Sickendiek, Timo Baumann


This contribution focuses on structural similarities between tonality and cadences in music on the one hand, and rhythmical patterns in poetic languages respectively poetry on the other hand. We investigate two exemplary rhythmical patterns in modern and postmodern poetry to detect these tonality-like features in poetic language: The Parlando and the Variable Foot. German poems readout from the original poets are collected from the webpage of our partner lyrikline. We compared these rhythmical features with tonality rules, explained in two important theoretical volumes: The Generative Theory of Tonal Music and the Rhythmic Phrasing in English Verse. Using both volumes, we focused on a certain combination of four different features: The grouping structure, the metrical structure, the time-span-variation and the prolongation, in order to detect the two important rhythmical patterns which use tonality-like features in poetic language (Parlando and Variable Foot). Different features including pause and parser information are used in this classification process. The best classification result, calculated by the f-measure, for Parlando and Variable Foot is 0.69.


 DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2018-36

Cite as: Hussein, H., Meyer-Sickendiek, B., Baumann, T. (2018) Tonality in Language: The Generative Theory of Tonal Music as a Framework for Prosodic Analysis of Poetry. Proc. TAL2018, Sixth International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages, 178-182, DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2018-36.


@inproceedings{Hussein2018,
  author={ Hussein Hussein and Burkhard Meyer-Sickendiek and Timo Baumann},
  title={ Tonality in Language: The Generative Theory of Tonal Music as a Framework for Prosodic Analysis of Poetry},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. TAL2018, Sixth International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages},
  pages={178--182},
  doi={10.21437/TAL.2018-36},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/TAL.2018-36}
}