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News Article

Visualising music is diverse across cultures

Research found that heritage and culture influence perception of music

New research finds that music inspires listeners differently depending on where they live, the work published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people visualise different stories and narratives depending on their culture.

Participants from across the world listened to snippets of instrumental music performed and then asked about what the music made them visualise – with widely varying results.

Music played to the groups 622 inspired different visions and stories, reflecting culture and heritage of the listeners. Participants came from three regions across two continents: two suburban college towns in middle America — one in Arkansas and the other in Michigan — and a group from Dimen, a village in rural China where the primary language is Dong, a tonal language not related to Mandarin, and where the residents have little access to Western media reported the researchers.

All the participants listened to the same 32 musical stimuli: 60-second snippets of instrumental music, half from Western music and half from Chinese music, all without lyrics.

While music was intrinsically valuable to both western and eastern cultures, stories and heritage changed how music was perceived by listeners.

Narratives imagined in response to instrumental music reveal culture-bounded intersubjectivity,” by Elizabeth H. Margulis, Patrick C. M. Wong, Cara Turnbull, Benjamin M. Kubit and J. Devin McAuley, appears in the January 21 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2110406119). This research was supported by the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences of the National Science Foundation, Award Numbers 1734063 (PI: JDM) and 1734025 (PI: EHM).

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • Jess Thay
  • Date
  • 14 April 2022
  • Source
  • Princeton University
  • Subject(s)
  • Arts and Entertainment