The general theoretical frame of this dissertation has to do with the study, from an
interdisciplinary and interlinguistic point of view, of the typological dichotomy
between stress-timed and syllable-timed languages, inasmuch as this distinction is
valid at all. As a preliminary step, I carry out a comparative examination of the basic
prosodic characteristics of English and Spanish, in order to then analyse the standard
versification systems of these two languages. In the central part of my dissertation, I
explore the most important text-setting Optimality Theory constraints as applied to a
corpus of English and Spanish folk and art songs.
My main objective in carrying out these three-level analyses is to check
whether the actual setting of verse to music responds to some kind of underlying
rhythmic constraints common to language prosody, verse prosody and music, and
whether those constraints are ranked differently from language to language.
The conclusions have to do with a correspondence between the timing
typologies of language and the rhythmic typologies of music. I find clear
inconsistencies or mismatches between speech prosody, on the one hand, and verse
and music rhythm, on the other. These inconsistencies work differently in a syllabletimed language like Spanish than in a stress-timed language like English. While in
the first type of languages I find a natural counterpoint or dialogue between speech
prosody and musical rhythm, in the second type this counterpoint tends to be
considered arhythmic. In other words, I establish a difference in kind in relation to
the dialogue between prosody and music for each of the two types of languages. In
English, the level of agreement between the two stress-patterns is really high, while
in Spanish the counterpoint between the two patterns is used as an expressive device.