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Have you heard the word in song?

Research by Christopher Fox, Professor of Music at Brunel University London, has shed new light on how words are heard and understood when sung.

Prof Fox created new music to test the way listeners responded to words and sound heard at the same time. His first work 20 Ways to Improve Your Life saw text from small-ads sung in a Renaissance style. Then, Sing a New Song, had different parts of a text sung by school children and classically trained singers.

Both works generated significant media attention, taking their textual, musical and social significance to a wider audience. 20 Waysfeatured on BBC Radio 3'sThe Verb, was performed at the Spitalfields Festival and outside the Tower of London. The CD recording was inGramophone’s top ten for January 2010.

In playing with music and words, Professor Fox challenged assumptions about how audiences hear – something the Wellcome Trust believed should be further explored.

Their funding delivered Roger go to yellow three, a domestic drama delivered like The Brungart Test, an auditory streaming test devised by the US Air Force to train air traffic controllers. The data showed a “masking” effect and the role ofharmonic and melodic dissonance in shaping listeners' focus. The team is currently working on Tales from Babel to investigate the phenomenon.

Like its predecessors Tales from Babel captured the imagination of both the science community and general public. Scenes have been performed at numerous scientific conferences. The full work premiered at the popular Cheltenham Festival of Music with coverage on BBC Radio 3 (In Tune and The Choir) and Radio 5 Live, and in the Independent, NME, Times, Evening Standard and Guardian.