Speaking a Tonal Language (Such as Cantonese) Primes the Brain for Musical Training, Baycrest Health Sciences Study

Published: Apr 03, 2013

Non-musicians who speak tonal languages may have a better ear for learning musical notes, according to Canadian researchers. Tonal languages, found mainly in Asia, Africa and South America, have an abundance of high and low pitch patterns as part of speech. In these languages, differences in pitch can alter the meaning of a word. Vietnamese, for example, has eleven different vowel sounds and six different tones. Cantonese also has an intricate six-tone system, while English has no tones.

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