STEPHEN McAdams, professor of music research at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, played movie tunes to Mbenzélé pygmies in the Congo rainforest to find out whether music is a universal language.
Here’s a brief interview that has just appeared in New Scientist.
Why do you want to know whether music has the same effect on everyone?
Every culture has music, so if we want to understand humans, we need to understand why music is there and why it is used in different ways. Deciphering what aspects of it are dependent on our basic biology and what aspects are dependent on culture will help us find answers to these questions.
You played movie tunes to Mbenzélé pygmies in the Congo rainforest. Why them?
Their exposure to Western music was nil: they are hunter-gatherers who live in the forest. They rarely go into big cities and they don’t have radios.
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