The composer Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) is most known today for his operatic, choral, and instrumental works. During his lifetime he was also acknowledged for his essays and pedagogical activities. While his fascination with speech melodies has often been mentioned in literature about the composer, this literature has rarely registered an appreciation for the materials themselves. Neither has the discussion of speech melodies included much comparison of his work to research from the field of linguistics, which the present study argues is essential for understanding his efforts.
In addition to offering a background of the composer’s interest in linguistics, psychology, and auditory cognition, this dissertation is primarily concerned with presenting a broad selection of the speech melody materials from Janáček’s notebooks, along with an analysis of these materials in terms of speech prosody and related research from the past century. The analysis herein covers only a small percentage of the available materials. The body of data that Janáček produced, over the course of more than three decades of gathering speech melodies, amounts to perhaps 5000 transcriptions, in a variety of languages, and thus provides us with a wealth of material still ripe for further analysis. A thorough study of these transcriptions should prove fruitful for musicologists and linguists, as well as those interested in the interaction between these two domains. The present work provides a crosssection of materials from the notebooks, and establishes a foundation for related future work.
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The Music of Language: the notebooks of Leoš Janáček