Universality and diversity in human song.

TitleUniversality and diversity in human song.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsMehr, SA, Singh, M, Knox, D, Ketter, DM, Pickens-Jones, D, Atwood, S, Lucas, C, Jacoby, N, Egner, AA, Hopkins, EJ, Howard, RM, Hartshorne, JK, Jennings, MV, Simson, J, Bainbridge, CM, Pinker, S, O'Donnell, TJ, Krasnow, MM, Glowacki, L
Date Published2019 11 22
KeywordsAnthropology, Cultural, Auditory Perception, Behavior, Cross-Cultural Comparison, Dancing, Humans, Infant Care, Infant, Newborn, Love, Music, Psychoacoustics, Religion, Singing

<p>What is universal about music, and what varies? We built a corpus of ethnographic text on musical behavior from a representative sample of the world's societies, as well as a discography of audio recordings. The ethnographic corpus reveals that music (including songs with words) appears in every society observed; that music varies along three dimensions (formality, arousal, religiosity), more within societies than across them; and that music is associated with certain behavioral contexts such as infant care, healing, dance, and love. The discography-analyzed through machine summaries, amateur and expert listener ratings, and manual transcriptions-reveals that acoustic features of songs predict their primary behavioral context; that tonality is widespread, perhaps universal; that music varies in rhythmic and melodic complexity; and that elements of melodies and rhythms found worldwide follow power laws.</p>

Alternate JournalScience
PubMed ID31753969
PubMed Central IDPMC7001657
Grant ListDP5 OD024566 / OD / NIH HHS / United States