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Musical BeginningsOrigins and Development of Musical Competence$
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Irene Deliège and John Sloboda

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198523321

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198523321.001.0001

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Infants’ auditory sensitivity towards acoustic parameters of speech and music

Infants’ auditory sensitivity towards acoustic parameters of speech and music

(p.56) 3 Infants’ auditory sensitivity towards acoustic parameters of speech and music
Musical Beginnings

Christoph Fassbender

Oxford University Press

Many sounds reach the human ear at the same time. In order to get anything meaningful out of these sounds, human perception has to undergo processes that work to group together meaningful sounds and segregate other noises that do not fit into it, like when one is trying to listen to a speaker amidst a noisy environment. Human perception is said to have been developed early: similar behaviours, like turning heads toward the origin of a sound, has been observed in infants. In addition to this, infants have also been observed to follow their mother's voice and even filter out linguistic aspects, which are relevant to language acquisition. All these are observed in infants, when they do not have knowledge of the syntactic structure and semantic content of a linguistic message. Infants can also follow music and discriminate aspects relevant to musical learning and acculturation. In this chapter, the researcher reviews existing literature related to three topics: infants' auditory sensitivity concerning different thresholds, as well as sensitivity to changes in pitch and timbre of complex sounds; auditory grouping and segregation processes; and the role of auditory grouping and the segregation process in infants' perception of speech and music.

Keywords:   human perception, language acquisition, auditory grouping, segregation process, musical learning, acculturation

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