Honors Projects


Background: People with neurogenic communication disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Aphasia have language and speech abilities that are characterized by disturbances in speech prosody: abnormal variations of the intonation, stress, and duration of speech. Singing has been used as a therapeutic approach to help regulate and normalize prosody; however, little is known about how to best use the prosody of singing to meet the speech needs of different neuro pathologies. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to identify how the spoken and musical prosody of simple songs compare on measures of intensity, intonation, and duration as well as establish a method of assessing a song’s efficacy in speech therapy. Methods: An observational study compared the recordings of two singers and two speakers (4 participants total) who sang or read aloud the lyrics of three simple songs: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”, “Happy Birthday To You”, and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. Participants were asked to either sing or read aloud each selection three times. Analysis: The acoustic analyses of the recordings were performed using the software Praat and were assessed for the prosodic measures of intonation by the fundamental frequency contour (semitones), intensity by the decibel (dB) contour, and rhythm by syllabic duration (seconds). Results: Comparing the prosodic differences between sung and spoken lyrics, on average the highest similarity between speech and singing occurred for the measure of duration (SCP Row = 92%, SCP Twinkle = 85%, SCP Happy = 83)%, second highest similarity for intensity (SCP Row =65%, SCP Twinkle =56%, SCP Happy =54% ), and the least highest similarity of intonation (SCP Row = 69%, SCP Twinkle = 49% , SCP Happy = 42%). Out of the selections Row, Row, Row Your Boat was most speech like while Happy Birthday to you was least speech like. Conclusions: This methodological study for speech and singing helped to establish a basis for assessing how simple songs can be utilized as a tool in speech therapy.


Communication Sciences and Disorders


Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Dr. Ronald Scherer

First Advisor Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Second Advisor

Dr. Geoffrey Stephenson

Second Advisor Department

Music Performance Studies

Third Advisor

Christina Igl

Third Advisor Department

Honors Program

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2023