Basic emotions in music universally recognized.
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Country music (Social aspects)
Country music (Psychological aspects)
Pub Date: 06/22/2009
Publication: Name: Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association Publisher: American Psychotherapy Association Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 American Psychotherapy Association ISSN: 1535-4075
Issue: Date: Summer, 2009 Source Volume: 12 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 290 Public affairs
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 218313980

Have you ever felt separated from someone because you didn't speak his or her native language? Cultural divides have a way of separating people, forcing most of us to stick to what is familiar and comfortable. There are, however, ways in which global citizens can relate to each other. A new report from Current Biology reveals that people around the world--from different countries, backgrounds, and social systems--can pick up on happy, sad, and fearful emotions in Western music.

While music is appreciated for other qualities around the world, Western music focuses primarily on the expression of emotions, and music is often rated on how effectively it conveys this emotional expression. Thomas Fritz (of the Max-Planck-Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences) and colleagues tested members of the Mafa, an ethnic group in Cameroon, in order to determine whether those who hadn't heard it previously could appreciate the emotional aspects of Western music. The research team traveled to the Mandara mountain ranges with a laptop and sun collector to supply the electricity necessary to play music for the participants.

The studies revealed that listeners who had never before been exposed to Western music could recognize basic emotions. "These findings could explain why Western music has been so successful in global music distribution, even in music cultures that do not as strongly emphasize the role of emotional expression in their music," said Fritz.

Cell Press. (2009, March 20). Language of music really is universal, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 13, 2009, from
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.