Phonology is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any
spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use. Just as
a language has syntax and vocabulary, it also has a phonology in the sense of
a sound system. When describing the formal area of study, the term typically
describes linguistic analysis either beneath the word (e.g., syllable, onset
and rime, phoneme, articulatory gesture, articulatory feature, mora, etc.) or
to units at all levels of language that are thought to structure sound for
conveying linguistic meaning. It is viewed as the subfield of linguistics that
deals with the sound systems of languages.
Whereas phonetics is about the physical production, acoustic transmission and
perception of the sounds of speech, phonology describes the way sounds
function within a given language or across languages to encode meaning. The
term "phonology" was used in the linguistics of a greater part of the 20th
century as a cover term uniting phonemics and phonetics. Current phonology can
interface with disciplines such as psycholinguistics and speech perception,
resulting in specific areas like articulatory or laboratory phonology.
The CymaScope represents a significant breakthrough in the study of
phonology and as a powerful audio-visual aid in speech
pathology/therapy and vocal coaching. The instant production of voice
figures or "CymaGlyphs" as a result of the client's own vocalizations
can provide visual feedback that not only allows the client to shape their
sounds visually, thus improving articulation and intonation, but also provides
an effective method of enhancing pitch recognition. In addition vibrato can be
taught or modified.
We are open to discussions with phonologists, speech pathologists/therapists
and voice coaches to begin conducting trials where sponsorship of the
equipment is possible. No protocols have yet been established for working in
speech pathology/therapy and vocal coaching, however, we would welcome the
opportunity to open a dialogue with therapists and to establish outline
protocols prior to beginning trials.
step in our understanding of vowel sound structure and phonation:
Previously it had been assumed that each of the five vowels would have the
same basic form for every person. However, our present cymatic study of vocal
sounds has revealed a surprising result. The geometry of vowels actually
varies from pitch-to-pitch for each person and from person to person. Nature,
it seems, loves variety.
In essence it is the pitch of a person's voice that determines the basic
geometry of each vowel when made visible on the CymaScope. But if we
change the pitch, while maintaining the same vowel sound, the geometry will
The basic vowel sound form is then beautified with complex patterns by the
harmonics in the voice, which also vary for each person, as shown in the
examples below in which the voice of Vera Gadman has been made visible.
The video of Vera Gadman's voice, with the title "The beauty of the human
voice made visible" can be viewed in our sounds fun section: