No matter the culture, people recognize most basic feelings in unfamiliar tunes
THURSDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Michael Jackson may have been more prescient than he realized when he wrote the lyrics to the global "feel-good" song, We Are the World.
New research recognizes that people from vastly different cultures and heritages respond to the same happy, sad and scared emotions in unfamiliar music.
This suggests the universality of emotions in music and may help explain why Western music has been adopted so ubiquitously worldwide, said the authors, from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany.
"We know that our auditory system responds in distinctive ways to consonant and dissonant sounds, even when we're not actively listening to them," said Nina Kraus, Hugh Knowles professor of communication sciences, neurobiology, physiology and otolaryngology at Northwestern University in Chicago. "It's fascinating how our sensory systems 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 Strait, a doctoral candidate 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 that communicates emotion."
"The question of 'musical universals' has triggered intense debate in our field for years," she continued. "It intrigues us in part because of its implications for music being 'built in' to the human genome. These outcomes move us y
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