Eric Keller
University of Lausanne

ID 1776
[full paper]

In this study, a mechanism for the emergence of beats is proposed. Examples from physics (e.g., pendulum, sine tones, or water waves) indicate that beats are produced by interferential patterns between similar events, creating mutually reinforced wave forms (“beats”) alternating with weakened wave forms (“off-beats” or “anti-beats”). In biological “coordinative structures”, similar task requirements can also create interferential events that translate into beat, e.g. the need to coordinate the horse’s anterior and posterior body portions for a canter. In speech, it can be argued that strong voice onsets coincide with a neurological anticipation of such onsets, which is likely to lead to the creation of beat reinforcement. Weakening would be predicted for rapid subsequent events. The notion of beat patterns operating within coordinate structures promises a number of useful hypotheses for the temporal structuring of gestures in speech.