Archive of the Doowop Museum

The first level of our typology is SPEECH ALONE vs. SPEECH WITH EXTERNAL BEATS. The most basic distinction in our typology is whether there is some externally imposed beat pattern or not.

The second primary distinction is whether the speaker is performing SOLO or is constrained to try to stick together with a GROUP of speakers.

After these two distinctions, we group our audio clips by the approximate degree of regularity of the timing -- from least to most regular.

Typology of Rhythmic Speech

Samples that have already been collected (in some form) are marked with askterisk *. However, none of these are currently mounted on the web (as of July 24, 1997). ``Stay tuned,'' as they say on radio.

  • SPEECH ALONE (No accompanying periodicity. Speech must provide its own meter.)
    • Solo:
      • Weakly Periodic: conversation; prose; news broadcast (Sylvia Poggioli*, Daniel Schorr*, etc)
      • Moderately Periodic: preaching (<Titon tape*); artistic poetry reading; news broadcasts*
      • Strongly Periodic: Orson Wells' War of Worlds quote*; unaccompanied song; Indonesian choral chant*; children's game songs; work songs, speech cycling without metronome* (from lab experiments)

    • Group
      • Moderately Periodic: communal recitation (eg, Pledge of Allegiance* and responsive reading from American church*)
      • Strongly Periodic: eg, chants (`Hail Mary', `Namu amida butsu', `Hip hip hooray')

  • SPEECH WITH EXTERNAL BEATS (Strong external periods encourage regular performance) )
    • Solo: hiphop/rap*; recitation with percussion; song with percussion (Blue Hawaii*); speech cycling task with metronome*

    • Group: playsong; work song; marching song; singing with handclapping

Other notions:

Song or rhythmic speech? Since we are focussing on the temporal structure of speech, we will ignore the issue of musical scales for voice pitch. Thus an unaccompanied song is treated as identical to a poem recitation.

Degrees of Rhythmicity. We assume that for most languages, there is a continuum between speaking styles that are highly Regular (or Rhythmic) and those with Unconstrained Timing.


Copyright information is specified for each item where relevant. The webpage as a whole is copyrighted by Indiana University. Last edit Jan 22, 1998.

Robert Port,