Harvard Univercity Researchers Prove Music Is Universal


The issue of universality of music was a frequently expressed but only limited definition. A new study, led by scientists from Harvard Univercity, proved the universality of music.

The universality of music is a subject frequently mentioned by many. This discussion, which is also the subject of many researches, finally came to a conclusion. A research led by scientists from Harvard Univercity put an end to the universality of music. The research, which included 19 researchers working in many different fields from psychology to evolutionary biology, from anthropology to political science, proved the universality of music.

Particularly focusing on oral music, researchers used an extensive database of ethnographic information from 315 cultures. The researchers scanned hundreds of music from the archives for 5 years and included 118 pieces belonging to 86 cultures spread over 30 geographies. According to a report published in The Harvard Gazette, Harvard Music Laboratory director Samuel A. Mehr said, We’re used to finding any track we like, but there are thousands of songs buried in the archives,  he gave some information about the data collection process.

Tracks with similar functions show similar musical characteristics

The team had access to the detailed information of approximately 5 thousand pieces in the collection called Music Natural History. These details include thousands of texts about the singer, audience, instruments in the song and the meaning of the songs. To analyze such a large footprint, the researchers used 4 different ways. As a result of computer summaries, listener ratings, experts’ comments and transcriptions, music was associated with baby care, treatment, dance, love, lament, war, ceremonies and rituals in all cultures.

Researchers; In addition to treatment, dance and love songs, he focused on lullabies and discovered that parts with similar functions show similar characteristics. Manvir Singh, a graduate student at the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard Univercity, said that “Lullabies and dance songs exist all over the world and are highly stereotyped”, and dance songs and lullabies have similar characteristics throughout the world.

It turned out that the songs varied greatly. Some songs may be more formal, others more religious or more lively, and this diversity may be more pronounced when songs from different cultures are handled individually, but the intercultural similarities that pave the way for them are also very strong. According to the researchers; it is a great step to both uncover and build a universal grammar of music, and to grasp how our mind produces and reacts to music.


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