, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 199–223 | Cite as

Rhythm and melody in gelada vocal exchanges

  • Bruce Richman


A scheme for describing how gelada monkeys (Theropithecus gelada) use rhythm and melody in their vocal exchanges with each other is presented. It is argued that four different levels of description—phonological, whole sound, rhythmical, and syntactical—are necessary for an adequate account of geladas' use of rhythm and melody. Many examples of gelada rhythm and melody are demonstrated from sonagraphs. It is argued that geladas use rhythm and melody in their vocal exchanges in ways that are similar to how humans use rhythm and melody in speech and singing. Geladas make use of rhythm and melody in human-like ways todesignate utterance acts, todistinguish kinds of utterance acts from each other, toparse utterances into smaller units, and toresolve emotional arousal conflicts through the structuring of rhythm and melody.

Key Words

Geladas Vocalizations Syntax Rhythm Melody 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blacking, J., 1973.How Musical Is Man? Univ. of Washington, Seattle.Google Scholar
  2. Cheney, D. L. &R. M. Seyfarth, 1982. Vervet monkey vocalizations.Anim. Behav., 30: 739–751.Google Scholar
  3. Chomsky, N. &M. Halle, 1968.The Sound Pattern of English. Harper & Row, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Dunbar, R. &P. Dunbar, 1975.Social Dynamics of Gelada Baboons. S. Karger, Basel.Google Scholar
  5. Green, S., 1975. Variation of vocal pattern with social situation in the Japanese monkey. In:Primate Behavior, Vol. 4,L. A. Rosenblum (ed.), Academic Press, New York, pp. 1–103.Google Scholar
  6. Kawai, M., 1979.Auditory Communication and Social Relations. Contributions to Primatology, Vol. 13. S. Karger, Basel.Google Scholar
  7. Kummer, H., 1974. Rules of dyad and group formation among captive gelada baboons (Theropithecus gelada). In:Proc. Symp. 5th Congr. Int. Primatol. Soc.,S. Kondo,M. Kawai,A. Ehara, &S. Kawamura (eds.), Japan Science Press, Tokyo, pp. 139–159.Google Scholar
  8. Ladefoged, P., 1971.Preliminaries to Linguistic Phonetics. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  9. Langer, S. K., 1942.Philosophy in a New Key. Harvard Univ., Cambridge.Google Scholar
  10. Lieberman, P., 1984.Biology and Evolution of Language. Harvard Univ., Cambridge.Google Scholar
  11. Malcolm, N., 1977.Memory and Mind. Cornell Univ., Ithaca.Google Scholar
  12. Marler, P., 1977. The signaling behavior of apes. In:How Animals Communicate.T. Sebeok (ed.), Indiana Univ. Press, Bloomington, pp. 955–1035.Google Scholar
  13. Patterson, F., 1981.Education of Koko. Holt, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Richman, B., 1976. Some vocal distinctive features used by gelada monkeys.J. Acoust. Soc. Amer., 60: 687–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. —, 1978. Synchronization of voices by gelada monkeys.Primates, 19: 569–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Seyfarth, R. M. &D. L. Cheney, 1982. How monkeys see the world. In:Primate Communication,C. T. Snowdon,C. H. Brown, &M. R. Peterson (eds.), Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, pp. 239–252.Google Scholar
  17. Terrace, H. S., 1979.Nim. Knopf, New York.Google Scholar
  18. —, 1983. Apes who “talk”: language or projection of language by their teachers? In:Language in Primates,J. de Luce &H. T. Wilder (eds.), Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 19–42.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Richman
    • 1
  1. 1.Cleveland HeightsU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations