Rhythm & Pitch.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Theory Thursday. Last week I broke down the structure of a sonnet so if you have not read that already then you should check it out.

Today I am going to be breaking down rhythm and pitch. I have said before that some of my Theory Thursday topics will be especially helpful to anyone who is trying to become a more confident public speaker, today’s topic definitely falls into that category so be sure to keep reading!

Let’s dive into #theorythursday.

What is rhythm?

Rhythm can be referred to as the flow of speech and music.

Note – I am specifically talking about rhythm in relation to speech, while there are some overlaps between literary theory and music theory, there are some differences and if I am ever talking about music theory then I will clearly state that at the beginning of the piece.

How is rhythm produced?

We produce rhythm in speech by stress. When words have more than one syllable, one is stressed. The stressed and unstressed syllables work together to create certain patterns. That is where we get rhythm.

Rhythm can also be found everywhere. It is all around us, for example one can find rhythm in a heartbeat or in the ticking of a clock or in the sound of someone’s footsteps.

Rhythm is created by the repetition of stressed and unstressed syllables, a repetition of heavy and light sounds.

Rhythm can be found in poetry and in prose, and of course, in music.

What is pitch?

Pitch refers to the range of the speaking voice and usually one places their voice in the middle of the vocal scale – if you are singer, you may think of when warming up it is common to start at the middle C. It is a similar idea.

The voice ranges over three pitches.

There is upper pitch and we tend to use this when we are excited or nervous or afraid.

There is middle pitch which could be referred to as the ‘normal’ speaking voice. Think of how you speak on a regular basis, in regular conversation. This is your everyday voice and it is your middle pitch.

There is lower pitch which conveys sorrow or gloom, think of how you may automatically lower your voice if you have to convey bad news or if you are sad or if you are apologising.

Why are rhythm and pitch important?

When speaking, maintaining rhythm makes the speech sound natural and fluent and easy to listen to.

If you are only using stressed words then the speech can sound artificial and boring and also certain meaning may be lost if you are not emphasising the right things. Becoming a good speaker requires learning an array of skills. In order to be engaging and inspiring, it is important to speak clearly and confidently but to also remember how to emphasize your point and having an understanding of rhythm will only be an asset to you when you are speaking.

Pitch is important because we use pitch to express our emotions. If there is no variation in your pitch then your entire speech will risk sounding monotone and dull. You lose the interest of your listeners and again, certain meaning may be lost if you do not convey the emotions that your speech needs. How can an audience believe something is exciting if you sound bored talking about it? Having an understanding of pitch will enable you to make sure your speech is varied and filled with emotion and nuance and doing this will help you become the engaging speaker you want to be.

So this has been my breakdown of rhythm and pitch. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope it is helpful especially to those of you who voted for more public speaking content in my Instagram polls. If you have any questions then please do leave a comment, I am more than happy to get back to you.

This has been Theory Thursday.

Kate xo.

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