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Simon Heather
Category: Music Therapy

Why Music is a Universal Language

Science Dances to Longfellow’s Tune

Scientists have provided the strongest evidence yet for what American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had declared 184 years ago — that “music is the universal language of mankind”.

Researchers have found that songs that share a particular intention, whether lullabies or dance numbers or love songs, possess similar musical features across cultures worldwide.

Their study, which examined 118 songs from 86 cultures, including three from India, has detected structural similarities within four categories of songs with similar functions, suggesting humans across the planet use like music for like objectives.

For instance, the scientists have found that a Marathi lullaby is similar to the lullabies sung by Highland Scots in Britain and the Nahua indigenous people of Central America. A Garo dance song is similar to a Yaqui dance song from northern Mexico and a Tlingit dance song from the US Pacific Northwest Coast...more

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