Music and Speech in Deutsch’s and Levitin’s Views

Music is an inevitable element of everyday life. That is why there are numerous perspectives on the ways human brain perceives music and its connection to speech. For instance, Diana Deutsch believes that music is strongly related to the function of speech so that the boundary between the two is hardly visible (“Speaking in Tones”). It can be explained by the incorporation of common phrases into texts of songs as well as the fact that both are governed by grammatical rules with the only difference that in music, notes, not words, are combined to form phrases (“Speaking in Tones”). More than that, speech is characterized by having prosody – its natural melody, varying in tempo, rhythm, pitch, and other characteristics, which depend upon individual’s emotional state and can represent it (“Speaking in Tones”).

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On the other hand, Daniel Levitin does not believe in similarities between music and speech. Instead, the researcher claims that music, just like speech, is connected to the adaptation of human brain as a result of evolution (“It’s Just an Illusion”). In this way, the only similarity between the two is the fact that the ability to make sense of music, just like understanding language, is directly connected to personal experience based on the number of songs heard (“It’s Just an Illusion”). Therefore, it becomes evident why music tastes change over time and people get used to particular melodies. Because of the differences in seeing the connection between music and speech, two authors have contrasting ideas on the way brain interprets music: while Deutsch claims that interpretation of music is conducted by the same regions involved in decoding language, Levitin points to the engagement of almost all regions of the brain in the process, thus viewing it in a broader manner (“Speaking in Tones”; “It’s Just an Illusion”).

Therefore, the authors created philosophies, thus making attempts to explain the ways musicians manipulate listener’s perception of music. Deutsch states that illusions are created by choosing particular words and phrases and repetitions of notes for writing songs, thus enclosing a particular undertone that might be heard in a different manner based on individuals emotional state (“Sound + Science”). As for Levitin, he claims that these are sequences of notes and timing between them that create the needed mood and share the needed message. So, the loudness of notes, as well as the consistency of repetitions, creates illusions because it affects how expressive or emotional people perceive a particular piece of music (“It’s All in the Timing”).

That said, both authors believe that music is an illusion. It means that it is complicated to perceive it the way composers or musicians did when they wrote a song or melody. However, they see the manipulation in a different manner. For instance, Diana Deutsch believes that illusions are connected to speech patterns used in a song, such as common words or phrases, while Daniel Levitin points to the evolution of the brain and the ability to get used to music as well as repetitions of notes and timing between them. Still, both researchers point to the strong influence of listeners’ experience on their perception of music. Nevertheless, Deutsch claims that not only experiences but also expectations contribute to creating music illusions. Finally, Levitin stresses on the commonality of a particular music style (frequency of hearing it) that helps the human brain to recognize it, while Deutsch does not share this opinion (“It’s All in the Timing”; “Sound + Science”).

Works Cited

Deutsch, Diana. “Sound + Science: Illusions in Music and Speech.” Web.

Deutsch, Diana. “Speaking in Tones.” Scientific American Mind, 2010. Web.

Levitin, Daniel J. “It’s All in the Timing: How Musicians Communicate Emotions (Part 1).” YouTube, 2016. Web.

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Levitin, Daniel. “It’s Just an Illusion.” New Scientist, 2008. Web.

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"Music and Speech in Deutsch's and Levitin's Views." StudyCorgi, 28 Oct. 2020,

1. StudyCorgi. "Music and Speech in Deutsch's and Levitin's Views." October 28, 2020.


StudyCorgi. "Music and Speech in Deutsch's and Levitin's Views." October 28, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Music and Speech in Deutsch's and Levitin's Views." October 28, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Music and Speech in Deutsch's and Levitin's Views'. 28 October.

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