We have created a few ditties based on a spoken sample of Robert Frost reading his poem, “Nothing gold can stay.” We analyzed the resonance pattern, capturing the frequency and amplitude of the oral, nasal and fricative formants throughout the utterance; and, we derived the sinewave replica of Frost’s speech on the lowest three oral resonances, the nasal and fricative resonances and the intermittent bursts and aspirations that give his speech distinctiveness.
 
There are several sound files here illustrating sinewave synthesis. First, we present a comparison of Frost’s natural version and a sinewave replica that exhibits the resonance pattern faithfully, within the tolerance of our estimate.
 
Natural
Sinewave
Next, we offer several sinewave Frost variations, in which the frequency values of the time-varying tones that replicate the speech have been forced to express frequencies of the well tempered scale.
 
The algorithm for revising the natural formant estimates musically required us to choose specific notes of the scale to use; and, required us to set a single fixed duration for each note throughout an utterance. Within each chunk of time, the average value of a tone was calculated and reset to match the nearest note that we had licensed.
 
The effect of setting different durations for the notes can be heard in these examples that use the white notes of the piano keyboard. At one extreme with notes of 50 ms the individual pitches are barely discernible. At the other extreme with notes of 350 ms the sinewave pattern differs so greatly in temporal grain from the natural resonance pattern that intelligibility is compromised, perhaps.
At the right of the poet, we show spectrograms of the first line of the Natural and the Sinewave versions.
time
frequency
time
frequency
50 ms notes
100 ms notes
150 ms notes
200 ms notes
250 ms notes
300 ms notes
350 ms notes
Last, the effect of different note specifications can be heard in three examples of the complete poem, each using a nominal note duration of 150 ms. The variations are: all keys (white notes and black notes), white notes, and black notes. The spectrograms illustrate the different tone patterns of the first line.
All Notes
time
frequency
White Notes
time
frequency
Black Notes
time
frequency
Nothing gold can stay.
Robert Frost (1923)
 
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down today.
Nothing gold can stay.