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Nearly 200 years ago, American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stated that "music is the universal language of mankind." Harvard anthropologists and evolutionary biologists have been able to prove what Longfellow said when they found repeated patterns of music with common features around the world. Their study was published in the journal Science on November 22.

Natural history of the song
Harvard scientists looked at the similarities and differences in the ethnic music of 315 different cultures, as well as a new set of world songs, and found that the basic structure and melodic elements of songs are similar around the world, and that the behavioral context of a song can be predicted once its acoustic features are known.

The research team spent five years searching for archives, libraries and private collections to compile a comprehensive database of songs for comparisons, which they called the "Natural History of the Song".

Not only did the scientists look at what was available online, but they also went to recordings in the Harvard Library archive and provided her librarian with 20 recordings of songs kept on reels in the traditional way, eventually collecting recordings from 118 songs from 86 cultures covering 30 geographic regions. .

They also recorded a large ethnographic database of 315 cultures, each with a special genre of music. They now have a database of over 5,000 descriptions of different songs, including more than 2,000 song translations, from 60 cultures across 30 geographic regions.

The team then began to index and analyze the songs, such as determining when each song was released, the number of singers, the identity of the target audience, the extent of its spread, rhythm and melodies, and other information needed to characterize the structure of the song.

Something in common in the brains of humans that enables them to understand and interact with music (pixels)

Engage the citizens of the world
Harvard University has launched an online "music lab" project to engage citizens in researching the mechanism of understanding the human mind of music, with the aim of developing a broader perception of the musical features common to different human societies.

The project, run by Samuel Mehr, a Fellow of the Science Research Initiative and a researcher in psychology at Harvard University, believes that regardless of the spoken language, humans have their own universal language common to their songs.

The music lab has prepared a fun quiz and is available to all who wish to participate in the study. The participants listen to the songs and then match them according to their type from their personal point of view.

Music and the psychological state of society
The study concluded that community music cannot be defined according to cultural behaviors, but rather a product of the basic psychological state of society as a whole, which makes certain types of sound suitable for certain social and emotional conditions.

Musical idioms also differ in terms of the phonetic traits they use and the emotions they motivate. However, they all rely on a common set of psychological responses to sound, which explains the musical similarities in different cultures. This suggests that something in common in the brains of humans in general enables them to understand and interact with music.