Ling 197M: Language and Music 2018

Andrew Lamont:

Joe Pater:




By the end of this course, you will have:

  1. Developed your awareness and understanding of linguistic and musical diversity around the world
  2. Learned about the similarities and differences between the structures of language and music, and between linguistic and musical cognition

This course gives you a start in meeting all of the student learning objectives of the Linguistics major


Date Topic Links Notes
We. Sep. 5 Musical pitch intro (JP) Class materials, [Levitin Ch. 2] Read Levitin ch. 2 for Monday
Mo. Sep. 10 Musical pitch continued (JP) Pitch intro from Wednesday, More non-western pitch, Chrome music lab Review quiz, Optional reading on Indian music
We. Sep. 12 Linguistic pitch intro (AL) Class materials Review question. Read Patel excerpt for Monday at the latest. Install praat on your computer for Monday.
Mo. Sep. 17 Linguistic pitch cont'd (JP) Class materials Review question, Homework due Friday at midnight!
We. Sep. 19 Pitch music-language connections (JP) Class materials Review question
Mo. Sep. 24 Pitch music-language cont'd (AL) Class materials Review question, Take-home exam, Paper on measuring pitch of a Balinese gamelan
We. Sep. 26 Timbre part 1: resonance (JP) Class materials Review question
Mo. Oct. 1 Timbre, resonance and formants Materials from last class, + in-class recording and spectrograms Review question
We. Oct. 3 Formants and vowel distinctions Class materials Review question
Mo. Oct. 8 Holiday - Columbus Day
Tu. Oct. 9 Music - language connections More on pitch, Infant speech perception Review question , Directions for homework 2 due Friday
We. Oct. 10 More musical timbre Class materials Review question
Mo. Oct. 15 Timbre music - language Class materials Review question, Reading for Wednesday
We. Oct. 17 Language and music in the brain Class materials Review question, Exam 2
Mo. Oct. 22 Pitch and the brain: amusia Class materials Review question
We. Oct. 24 Intro to Rhythm Class materials Levitin reading for Monday, Review question
Mo. Oct. 29 Non-western traditions and rhythm Class materials Review question
We. Oct. 31 Linguistic meter Class materials, Pop polyrhythm video Review question
Mo. Nov. 5
We. Nov. 7
Mo. Nov. 12 Veteran's Day
We. Nov. 14 Text-to-tune alignment Class materials, Temperley on French Review question
Mo. Nov. 19 No class - Thanksgiving break
We. Nov. 21 No class - Thanksgiving break
Mo. Nov. 26
We. Nov. 28
Mo. Dec. 3
We. Dec. 5
Mo. Dec. 10
We. Dec. 12

 Coursework and assessment

 Class and university policies

Since the integrity of the academic enterprise of any institution of higher education requires honesty in scholarship and research, academic honesty is required of all students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Academic dishonesty is prohibited in all programs of the University. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to: cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and facilitating dishonesty. Appropriate sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty. Instructors should take reasonable steps to address academic misconduct. Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the appropriate course instructor as soon as possible. Instances of academic dishonesty not related to a specific course should be brought to the attention of the appropriate department Head or Chair. The procedures outlined below are intended to provide an efficient and orderly process by which action may be taken if it appears that academic dishonesty has occurred and by which students may appeal such actions.

Since students are expected to be familiar with this policy and the commonly accepted standards of academic integrity, ignorance of such standards is not normally sufficient evidence of lack of intent. For more information about what constitutes academic dishonesty, please see the Dean of Students’ website (p. 9-10):

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to making reasonable, effective and appropriate accommodations to meet the needs of students with disabilities and help create a barrier-free campus. If you are in need of accommodation for a documented disability, register with Disability Services to have an accommodation letter sent to your faculty. It is your responsibility to initiate these services and to communicate with faculty ahead of time to manage accommodations in a timely manner. For more information, consult the Disability Services website at


We would like you to obtain a copy of Daniel J. Levitin's This is Your Brain on Music (used copies can be found on Amazon for 0.01 + shipping). You'll be reading about half of that book. All other readings will be supplied electronically.

If you would like to go in further depth into the material we cover in this course, Aniruddh Patel's Music, Language and the Brain is highly recommended.

If you would like to read another "popular science" discussion on language and music, one that focuses on age effects on learning and that has a different take on the "music instinct", check out Gary Marcus' Guitar Zero.