Investigating the Effect of Music and Lyrics on Spoken-Word Recognition

03/13/2018 ∙ by Odette Scharenborg, et al. ∙ 0

Background music in social interaction settings can hinder conversation. Yet, little is known of how specific properties of music impact speech processing. This paper addresses this knowledge gap by investigating 1) whether the masking effect of background music with lyrics is larger than that of music without lyrics, and 2) whether the masking effect is larger for more complex music. To answer these questions, a word identification experiment was run in which Dutch participants listened to Dutch CVC words embedded in stretches of background music in two conditions, with and without lyrics, and at three SNRs. Three songs were used of different genres and complexities. Music stretches with and without lyrics were sampled from the same song in order to control for factors beyond the presence of lyrics. The results showed a clear negative impact of the presence of lyrics in background music on spoken-word recognition. This impact is independent of complexity. The results suggest that social spaces (e.g., restaurants, cafés and bars) should make careful choices of music to promote conversation, and open a path for future work.

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