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22 March 2009

Music Touches Universal Chord

( No Matter The Culture And Heritage, People Everywhere Recognise & Respond To Most Basic Feelings In Unfamiliar Tunes )

MICHAEL Jackson may have been more precient than he realised when he wrote the lyrics to the global " feed-good" song, We Are the World.
New research recognises that people from vastly different culture and heritages respond to the same happy ,sad and scared emotions in unfamiliar music.This suggests the universality of emotions inmusic and may help explain why western music has been adopted so ubiquitosly worldwide,said the authors,from the Max Planck Institute for Human Congnitive and Brain Science in Leipzig Germany . " We know that our auditory system responds in distinctive ways to consonant sounds,even when we're not actively listening to them ," said Nina Kraus, Hung Knowles professor of communication sciences, neurobiology, physiology and otolaryngology at Northwestern University in Chicago. " It's fascinating how our sensory system have evolved to respond effectively to sounds that signal what's important , such as emotional meaning."
Kraus was not involved with the study which is published in the march 19 online issue of current biology." There are fundamental acoustic features that communicate basic emotions similarly in both speech and music . much of the meaning we get from music is not so much reliant on musical structure , but rather how it - the music - is performed," said DANA starit a doctoral condidate in the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory , also at Northwestern University. " It's the same with speech - it's not the actual words spoken, but more how they're said thatcommunicates emotion."
" The question of ' musical universals' has triggerd intense denate in our field for years," she continued ." It intregues us in part because of its implications for music being 'built in' to the human genome. these outcomes move us yet another step closer towards defining biological mechanisms driving the human music obsession." previous research has determined that babies as young as 5 month old cas distinguish between upbeat and gloomy music,provideing more evidence that the brain's ability to detect emotion develops early.For This study, researchers trekked to the far reaches of mountainous northern cameroon and asked members of the MAFA ethnic group to participate . A group of MAFA listned with headphones to computers-generated piano music with defferent tempos, pitch range, rythem , etc The music was played on a sun-powered CD ( the MAFA don't have electricity ). Meanwhile, a group of Westerners who had not before heard african music listened to a sequence of MAFA music. Both groups were then asked to rate the music as pleasent or unpleasant.
Africans and Westerners alike recignised the same three emotions in the music: happy,sad and scared or fearful. And both made their judgments based on timing of the music and on mode. MAFA Participants were more likely to think of faster pieces as happy and slower pieces as scared or fearful.