In his article “The Territory Between Speech and Song: A Joint Speech Perspective,” Cummins (2020) argues that research has failed to adequately recognize an important category of vocal activity that falls outside of the domains of language and music, at least as they are typically defined. This category, referred to by Cummins as joint speech, spans a range of vocal activity so broad that it is not possible to define it using musical or phonetic terms. Instead, the feature that draws the varied examples together is vocal activity that is coordinated across participants and embedded in a physical and social context. In this invited commentary, I argue that although joint speech adds an important thread to the discourse on the relations between speech and song by putting an emphasis on the collective, it is ultimately related to a wider class of joint action phenomena found in the animal kingdom.

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