Worldly Music

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March 2, 2017 – MCAT CARS Passage

Question: What is your summary of the author’s main ideas. Post your own answer in the comments before reading those made by others.

A new study carried out by the University of Exeter and Tokyo University of the Arts has found that songs from around the world tend to share features, including a strong rhythm, that enable coordination in social situations and encourage group bonding.

Despite decades of skepticism about the presence of cross-culturally universal aspects of music, the study provides strong evidence for the existence of common features in global music. The results, which are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), support the idea that music is a powerful social glue that helps bond societies together.

Dr Thomas Currie from the University of Exeter said: “Our findings help explain why humans make music. The results show that the most common features seen in music around the world relate to things that allow people to coordinate their actions, and suggest that the main function of music is to bring people together and bond social groups — it can be a kind of social glue.

“In the West we can sometimes think of music as being about individuals expressing themselves or displaying their talent, but globally music tends to be more of social phenomena. Even here we see this in things like church choirs, or the singing of national anthems. In countries like North Korea we can also see extreme examples of how music and mass dance can be used to unite and coordinate groups.”

The researchers analysed 304 recordings of stylistically diverse music from across the world to reveal the common features. Although they found no absolute universals, they found dozens of statistical universals (i.e., features that were consistently present in a majority of songs across different world regions). These included features related to pitch and rhythm as well as social context and interrelationships between musical features.

The results showed that rhythms based on two or three beats were present in music from all regions sampled — North America, Central/South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Lead author Pat Savage, a PhD student from the Tokyo University of the Arts, said: “In the old days, Western people believed that Western scales were universal. But then when we realised that other cultures had quite different ideas about scales, that led some people to conclude that there was nothing universal about music, which I think is just as silly. Now we’ve shown that despite its great surface diversity, most of the music throughout the world is actually constructed from very similar basic building blocks and performs very similar functions, which mainly revolve around bringing people together.

“My daughter and I were singing and drumming and dancing together for months before she even said her first words. Music is not a universal language… music lets us connect without language.” He added.

When analysing the results, the researchers combined a new way of classifying music, originally pioneered by Alan Lomax — a well-known American music collector and archivist whose music was extensively sampled by the musician Moby in his late nineties album Play, with statistical analysis to reveal the features that are common to music from across the world.

Adapted from sciencedaily

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This was an article on Music.

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Jack Westin
MCAT CARS Instructor.
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35 Comments


  1. Music is a social glue for groups

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  2. AS A SOCIAL GLUE , GLOBAL MUSIC BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER

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  3. Music social glue. Statistically Globally music has underlying similarities

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  4. Music is created by many different peoples and cultures across the globe. Recent research highlights the common building blocks of human musical experience, including rhythm and social cohesion.

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  5. MIP: music = global + social glue

    au tone was positive

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  6. Music= imp. social tool
    Global music= common features

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  7. music = universal + shared features
    music = social bonding (RTA Thomas + Pat)

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  8. MIP: Wordly music shares features + influence social bonding
    Tone: Neutral

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  9. music = social bonding + common features globally.

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  10. Music=common features + social bonding (social glue).

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  11. music = worldly = shared common features + social glue

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  12. music= social glue + shared common features

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  13. According to statistics, despite music from around the world being so diverse, they all share the same universal function – as a social glue to connect us to one another.

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  14. global music = social bonding (MI), used to think music was non-universal (CW)

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  15. Music is a “social glue” that serves to bring people together. Though not obvious, researchers found that there are statistical similarities between different music globally.

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  16. Music => Social Bonding
    Music universal=> coordinating people

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  17. Music allows for social bonding between people without the need for language. But sometimes in the west, music is considered a form of self-expression.

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  18. MIP: music=bring peop together=univ
    tone:neut

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  19. Worldly music have similar characteristics of bonding society and people

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  20. music brings people together, some elements in music are universal across cultures

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  21. MI: Songs share features + help bond ppl/societies (RTA: Savage)

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  22. Music = universal across the world + connects people together. Music requires no language to communicate

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  23. music = universal functions = promotes bonding + coordination

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  24. MIP: music has common/cross-cultural features + social glue; tone = neutral

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  25. MI: Music = common features universally + social glue (RTA: Currie, Savage)

    Reply

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