Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Avian phonetics

Scan from A Guide to Bird Songs by Aretas A. Saunders
The notation shows five qualities of a bird's song: time, pitch, volume, quality, and phonetics. At the top of the diagram is an indication of quality: clear, loud whistle, or harsh rattle, or the like. Below is the notation of the song in lines that are continuous or broken, of longer or shorter length, rising or falling, thicker or thinner, to indicate the line of the song and the duration of each note and the song as a whole. To the left is an indication of the musical pitch of the most prominent note or the mid point of the song. At the bottom is a phonetic transcription of the song, which, when combined with the information above, gives an indication of what the bird is saying in song.
The curves placed over these birdsong transcriptions resemble the intonation contours used to describe human speech.

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