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The links between musical rhythm and grammar

There is a correlation between a child's ability to understand grammar rules and his ability to distinguish musical rhythms. This is shown by a study carried out in the United States.

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There is a correlation between a child's ability to understand grammar rules and his ability to distinguish musical rhythms. This is shown by a study carried out in the United States.

The study was carried out by Reyna Gordon, professor at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. She tested 25 six-year-old children for musical recognition. The test consisted of making them hear different versions of melodies. The children were asked to indicate whether the melodies were different or the same. A similar exercise was then carried out, this time with video animations.

For the grammar component, various photos were presented to the children, who had to answer questions. The teacher used indicators to assess the participants' grammar, such as their ability to formulate correctly in the past tense.

At the end of thestudy, Gordon concludes that children who performed well in the musical rhythm portion also performed well in the grammar portion. She made sure that there were no biases, such as different intelligence quotients, divergent socioeconomic origins or more pronounced musical knowledge.

For Gordon, musical rhythm and grammar share similar characteristics, which could explain the results of this study. Grammar would require the transposition of sounds into sentences, structures and sequences. For its part, the musical rhythm would require the same thing, but a little vice versa. It would require the development of a sequence and a structure in order to produce an adequate rhythm.

A researcher of her time, Gordon published a video summarizing the main lines of his study.

Although more studies will be needed to deepen these links, Gordon believes these results are promising. For example, musical rhythm recognition tests could become interesting assessment and screening tools to identify grammatical gaps. According to her, this is the first study of its kind to link the ability to recognize musical rhythms and grammar skills.

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About the Author

Dominic Leblanc
Dominic leblanc
A graduate in sociology, Dominic Leblanc is an educational advisor in the Programs and Educational Development Department of the Cégep régional de Lanaudière in L'Assomption.

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