22 November 2005

Scanned speeches on the Tree of Life

suppose we stripe each human branch
at every point it speaks a syllable

chimp-grunts will count
and bird chirps, mouse squeals

the human pattern is silence when alone,
(stripes wide unto vanishing)
and taking-turns in groups
(rapid stripes jumping branches
speaker to speaker and back)

occasionally groups will
grunt or chant or sing
in unison
stripes aligned in space

often one human
will complete another's thought
stripes halted as if stolen

silent spells, in groups
are often uncomfortable
punctuated by throat-clearings

like the gaping gaps
in a flowing speech
broken up by ums and ers
or likes and y'knows

unison is easiest
at a steady rhythm

but for normal speech
the opposite is practiced


if we measure the average gap
between syllables
we can paint any branch-segment that
spans exactly that average gap
a uniform yellow

shorter spans can be redder
longer, greener

so long spells of silence
are deepest green

and rapid chatter is

but now we again consider
steady rhythms
of any speedcolor
in (almost) unchanging

and where that change is truly zero
in perfectly steady rhythm
we change the color to uniform purple

and where a change speeds up, red

and where it slows down, blue

(the derivative, in calculus)

now the rare human purple passages
will be people speaking
almost robotically

while vivacious humans
will flicker red and blue

music and poetry
have a regular tempo
of notes or syllables

layered with a slower
secondary beat

also regular