Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feelings, Universal Musical Feelings

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Here is only one example of many examples in life where human beings are more alike than they are different. Universally, we are all essentially more alike than our diversity would suggest.

In a study by a team led by cognitive scientist Thomas Fritz of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, African Mafa farmers who shun Western culture demonstrate widespread recognition of basic emotions in music: Mafa and Western listeners similarly derive emotional meaning from the tempo and key of musical passages. Both groups tended to classify fast-paced pieces as happy and slow ones as scared or fearful, and mostly agreed on which passages were sad, but assigned no particular tempo with them. Mafa and Westerners also generally regarded major-key pieces as happy, minor-key excerpts as fearful and passages with an indeterminate key as sad.

The finding provides the first solid evidence for a universal human ability to distinguish basic emotions in music

Cameroon’s Mafa farmers don’t know U2 from YouTube, and that’s how they like it. So it comes as a scientific revelation that, according to a new study, these Africans who are cocooned from Western culture recognize expressions of happiness, sadness and fear in the same musical passages that Westerners do.

It is in acknowledging all those things in which we as human beings are universally alike and at the same time embracing our diversity that will build paths to a world at peace.

You can find the full articles at RockOm or at ScienceNews.
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