Saturday, March 21, 2009

Primal Emo...

Apparently, there really is something universal about our music: emotion. A study using Western music and members of the African Mafa tribe who had never heard it before showed that anger, sadness, and fear in our music is understandable even outside our culture.
Fritz enlisted members of the Mafa, one of about 250 ethnic groups in Cameroon. He traveled to the extreme north of the Mandara mountain ranges, where they live, with a laptop and sun collector to supply electricity in his backpack.

Their studies showed that both Western and Mafa listeners, who had never before heard Western music, could recognize emotional expressions of happiness, sadness, and fear in the music more often than would be expected by chance. However, they report that the Mafa showed considerable variability in their performance, with two of twenty-one study participants performing at chance level.

Both groups relied on similar characteristics of music to make those calls; both Mafas and Westerners relied on temporal cues and on mode for their judgment of emotional expressions, although this pattern was more marked in Western listeners.

By manipulating music, the researchers also found that both Western listeners and African listeners find original music more pleasant than altered versions. That preference is probably explained in part by the increased sensory dissonance of the manipulated tunes.

HT Future Pundit

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