Human Speech, Jazz and Whales
Jazz bands, conversational people, and killer whales have similar interactive conversations in common.
One study analyzed the sounds of speech and music, as well as complex animal vocalizations such as bird and whale songs.
The team’s methodology is based on the idea that these sounds are complex because they consist of many layers. For example, each language has its own sounds and these sounds approximately correspond to letters. There is a hierarchy that everyone understands intuitively. Musical compositions also have temporal hierarchies. The hierarchy of speech and music, or the hierarchy of bird and whale singings, could not be compared before.
Jazz music is like a conversation between musicians. Killer whales are social creatures that make sounds as if they are talking to each other. So do these two communications really look like conversations? The method used is to distinguish how similar the sound recordings of them resemble human speech sound patterns or how different they are from those of birds. The hierarchy layers have been converted into barcodes defining the sound energy clusters. In fact, they first created these barcodes to investigate conversations. In their research, they use it for music and animal sounds for the first time. With these barcodes, the researchers were able to compare the conversations of the researchers in more than 200 records in 6 different languages, different types of popular and classical music, 4 different singing birds and whales, and even storms.
In the study, it was discovered that the songs of the great humpback whale are very similar in terms of temporal hierarchy to the singings of the little nightingale and thrush. But we don’t yet know what that means. The study is thought to advance on how the brain distinguishes between music and speech. In research conducted in six different languages, it was found that their temporal hierarchies were the same. This can give the idea that human speech is something universal. The same conclusion is reached when TED talks made in a similar style are taken as an example.
Analyzes made while listening to music and speech suggest that we only hear a part of it, which is useful in automatic classification of informational audio recordings. But that doesn’t mean that music and speech are handled with the same barcodes. Research continues.
Whales learn songs with rhymes like humans.
Whale learn in a way that humans acquire language skills or birds learn to sing. All the men sing the same mixed song, but the order of the song sometimes changes very quickly from one to the next. Learning new songs is known as a form of “social learning”. Animal behaviour is not genetically inherited but learned from other animals.
They change their songs over time. But we don’t know how they learned new ones. Given the pace of change, they are constantly learning new melodies and updating them quickly. If the structure is the same, so whales can anticipate parts of the songs. There are whales that sing the same melody in different populations. When the changing partially new and partially old songs were investigated, it was seen that the main theme of melodies did not change. These whales probably prove that they learn them on a theme basis, just like the choruses in people’s. The themes that act as bridges between new and old ones help social learning. This could be an answer to how animals learn complex behaviours.