The Impact of Speaking a Tone Language on Music Aptitude

  • Niloufar Saraei
Part of the English Language Education book series (ELED, volume 16)


A rapidly growing body of scientific research suggests that there is a close relationship between music and language in that training in one can influence the other. Recent studies show that the mechanisms involved in processing music and language can improve our understanding of each domain. Nevertheless, most of the studies have merely focused on the positive effects of music on language processing. Despite its significance, evidence for positive effects of language on music seems to be rare. The main purpose of this study is to investigate the correlation between speaking a tone language and musical aptitude. It is hypothesized that speaking a tone language has a positive effect on music perception and that musicians have a better capability in pitch discrimination in comparison to non-musicians. A sample of 40 participants was recruited and included four groups: tone-language speaking musicians/non-musicians, and native speakers of non-tonal languages with/without musical knowledge. Using Gordon’s musical aptitude test, the positive effects of having a tone-language background, as well as having advanced musical knowledge on the perception of musical pitch, were investigated. The results showed that tone-language speaking non-musicians had a better ability in pitch discrimination than the non-musicians who were natives of non-tonal languages. Furthermore, the findings indicated that academically trained musicians outperformed non-tonal language speaking non-musicians in the presented music aptitude test. This leads us to the conclusion that having musical knowledge and a tone-language background can both have positive effects on music perception.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niloufar Saraei
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Linguistics and Centre for Teacher Education, Unit for Language Learning and Teaching ResearchUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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