Pitch is a psychoacoustic concept that has distinctive functions in speech and music across languages. The present investigation is based on a hypothesis that speakers of tonal and non-tonal languages may have distinctive vocal pitch behaviours. Ethnographic observations was conducted on the vocal development of a group of English and Chinese Canadian children over 42 months. Acoustic analyses were performed on recorded vocalizations to extract pitch. Comparisons of longitudinal vocal fundamental frequencies between the Chinese and English speaking children suggest possible language differences in the use of pitch to distinguish between speech and song production. Implications on strategies to provide more effective singing experience in a multicultural classroom are discussed.
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