Listener_Response
Listener_Response

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Reuven Tsur

Delivery Style and Listener Response
in the Rhythmical Performance of Shakespeare's Sonnets

special issue of COLLEGE LITERATURE 33.1 (2006 Winter)
"Cognitive Shakespeare: Criticism+Theory in the Age of Neuroscience"

(Graphs and Sound Files)



This paper discusses four actual performances of one verse line: line 14 of Shakespeare's Sonnet 129. On this page you may listen to the readings discussed in this paper, by clicking on their icons. You may download these sound files (make sure you download both the page and the sound files; then open the page with your browser).
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This page contains the sound files of the readings discussed in Reuven Tsur's paper "Delivery Style and Listener Response", and the respective text.














Listen to Gielgud's first reading (Gielgud 1).


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Listen to Gielgud's second reading (Gielgud 2).


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Listen to The Marlowe Society's reading


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Listen to Callow's genuine reading (Callow 1).


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In Callow's recording we encounter serious trouble with the phrase "leads men": "leads" (in a strong position) bears stronger stress than "men" (in a weak position). Likewise, "this" (in a weak position) bears stronger stress than "hell" (in a strong position). In the former phrase linguistic stress suffers, in the latter -- metric prominence. In both phrases, the intonation peak is lower on the rightmost member, the noun. I have tried to lengthen electronically these nouns and see whether duration would restore rhythmicality, by "breaking even" with the preceding higher pitch. I copied minute parts of the speech sounds and pasted them again and again. The lengthening of the vowel in "men" generated some emotional distortion: one of my informants commented that it "provides a false emotional emphasis to the line". Listen to Callow's doctored reading (Callow 2).


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Fortunately enough, there was a delay between the completion of this article and its publication, during which I had access to the speech analyser "Praat". This application offers features for manipulating pitch and duration, yielding relatively natural results. This may provide less "false emotional emphasis" for the manipulated words in Callow's reading. I have manipulated only the duration, not the pitch, of the words "men" and "hell", so as to leave all other things equal. Notwithstanding this, the change of speed did affect the voice quality of these words to some extent.



Listen online to a version produced on a combination of two speech analysers, Praat and SoundScope (Callow 3).


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Listen online to "bright", "brighten", and the stop release excised from "bright ", as read in the Merriam–Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (Audio Edition) .


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Listen to the words "leads men" in the four recordings Gielgud 1, Gielgud 2, The Marlowe Society, and Callow (in this order).


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Listen to the tokens of "leads men" excised from Callow 1, Callow 2 and Callow 3.


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Listen to "heaven" in Gielgud 1 and Gielgud 2 with the respective excised /n/s. .


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