An Investigation of Pitch Matching Across Adjacent Turns in a Corpus of Spontaneous German

Margaret Zellers, Antje Schweitzer


Speakers in conversations may adapt their turn pitch relative to that of preceding turns to signal alignment with their interlocutor. However, the reference frame for pitch matching across turns is still unclear. Researchers studying pitch in the context of conversation have argued for an initializing approach, in which turn pitch must be judged relative to pitch in preceding turns. However, perceptual studies have indicated that listeners are able to reliably identify the location of pitch values within an individual speaker’s range; that is, even without conversational context, they are able to normalize to speakers. This would imply that speakers might match normalized pitch instead of absolute pitch. Using a combined quantitative-qualitative approach, we investigate the relationship between pitch in adjacent turns in spontaneous German conversation. We use two different methods of evaluating pitch in adjacent turns, reflecting normalizing and initializing approaches respectively. We find that the results are well correlated with conversational participants’ evaluation of the conversation. Furthermore, evaluating locations with matched or mismatched pitch can help distinguish between blind and face-to-face conversational situations, as well as identifying locations where specific discourse strategies (such as tag questions) have been deployed.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-811

Cite as: Zellers, M., Schweitzer, A. (2017) An Investigation of Pitch Matching Across Adjacent Turns in a Corpus of Spontaneous German. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 2336-2340, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-811.


@inproceedings{Zellers2017,
  author={Margaret Zellers and Antje Schweitzer},
  title={An Investigation of Pitch Matching Across Adjacent Turns in a Corpus of Spontaneous German},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={2336--2340},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-811},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-811}
}