New research shows that people from all over the world can understand the meaning of music, even from other countries. Does this mean music is universal?

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

The human race may be more unified by music than we think. What if  across the world, specific patterns, frequencies and rhythms tie to specific human emotions and applications? What if music, is universal?

At Harvard University, researchers did a study of 750 internet users in over 60 countries and had them listen to portions of songs that were collected from 86 different small societies around the world. They then answered questions on what they heard.

Each multiple choice option asked what the purpose of the song may have been for, such as dancing, soothing a baby, healing illness, etc. The study showed that despite the fact that each participant had never heard the music before, the majority of them were still able to relate it to the true purpose of each song.

Dance songs were normally faster and more rhythmically complex, and participants interpreted these to be happier and well, more exciting. Whereas lullabies, were slower, more simple, and interpreted to be sad and less exciting. Future research will target participants that live in smaller-scale societies that may have never heard music outside of their own culture. That way we see what they have to say regarding the purposes of different music too.

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