Music and language share important features, however these shared features have distinct functions in each domain. For example, although melody is a fundamental organizing structure in a song, it is far less important than the lexical and syntactic structure of a spoken sentence. From an early age, listeners are exposed to both music and language, and they must eventually acquire specific knowledge about the rules that govern sound structure in each domain. My research program examines the music-specific perceptual and cognitive processes that characterize music-specific melody and rhythm processing by experienced adult listeners, and compares these abilities with those of younger listeners and listeners with contrasting cultural or musical backgrounds. Part of acquiring musical and linguistic knowledge may include learning to differentially weigh acoustic features depending on the musical or linguistic context.