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Reuven Tsur


IMAGE imgs/Phonetic_cues_(intuit)_109.gif

butI Figure 9

IðatamIðatamwhyI Wave plots and pitch contours of the sequence of phrases "But I that am... I that am... I that am" and "why, I".

I have pointed out above, in excerpt 1, a highly effective anaphoric repetition of the first personal pronoun "I": But I, that am... I, that am ... I, that am ... Why, I.I suggested that this repetitive scheme may impute a considerable degree of unity on a passage in which the predicted predicate is postponed to the twelfth line. I also claimed that Beale superimposed on this repetitive pattern a "crescendo" pattern. I suggested that this catalogue can be interpreted as the speaker's increasing amusement over his own absurd situation. Now I propose to elaborate on this, and make an additional observation too. Consider figure 9. The increasing thickness of the wave plots of the first three items indicates here a pattern of increasing loudness. The intonation plots of "I" have strikingly similar shapes, especially the last two ones. The pitches of the four plots too yield a gradually ascending sequence. It is this rising sequence that reinforces the "increasing amusement" aspect of Gloucester's catalogue of his own deformities.
Now this rising sequence illuminated for me an issue that caused me a considerable problem. I have discussed above the possible disruptive or reinforcing effect of the pause after "Why, I" in the first line of excerpt 2. Relying on a gestalt principle, I assumed that entities tend to reassert themselves in perception in front of intruding events--provided that the perceptual entity is sufficiently unified. I mentioned two types of unifying factors: closural devices, and some perceptual force propelling across the pause. When listening to the line, I did perceive such a propelling force, but had difficulties to pinpoint its source. I had a feeling that the closing intonation contour on "I" didn't fall "deep" enough, and thus aroused strong expectations for continuation. The trouble is that we have no criteria for deciding what is "deep enough". The pitch curve of "I" in the last but one phrase in figure 9 rises from 107 Hz to 120 Hz, and then falls to 82 Hz. The curve of "why", though somewhat lower, is within roughly the same range (98 Hz, 102 Hz, 80 Hz). From here, there is a considerable leap to the pitch curve of "I", which moves from 127 Hz to 136 Hz, falling to 99 Hz. These comparisons suggest two possible solutions (perhaps both valid). First, the musicologists Cooper and Meyer (1960) pointed out that a steeply rising pitch sequence or intensity sequence (crescendo) has a marked forward grouping effect (it leads, so to speak, forward). Second, when you listen in figure 9 to the last two phrases only, you have a feeling that the intonation curve of the first "I" falls to a "base line", some stable reference point of the musical scale, even if you cannot tell by