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Thread: Music Simply May Not Be As “Universal” As We Like To Believe It Is

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    Senior Member Xavier's Avatar
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    Default Music Simply May Not Be As “Universal” As We Like To Believe It Is

    Thomas May comments on an interesting study published a few days ago in the journal Current Biology

    What I find truly unfathomable is an existence without music. Yet it turns out a new study whose results were just published in Current Biology suggests that music simply may not be as “universal” as we like to believe it is. A team of psychologists at the University of Barcelona found that possibly up to 5% (!) of the population cannot take pleasure in music — any music.

    Some people are simply, or rather biologically, incapable of enjoying it, no matter how accessible we try to make the experience.

    http://memeteria.com/2014/03/12/musical-anhedonia/

    http://www.cell.com/current-biology/...2814%2900133-X

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    Senior Member violadude's Avatar
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    This isn't very surprising. You can find 5% of the population that don't conform to any number of widely ingrained instincts, including the one that says murder is not so good. Genetic diversity (or genetic drift) is essential to evolution of life on Earth.
    Last edited by violadude; Mar-12-2014 at 16:05.

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    I thought everybody knew this

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    Senior Member Freischutz's Avatar
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    When I read the title of this post, I was expecting something else - what would surprise me (and what is more commonly denoted by "universality") is if there were a culture on earth that did not have any kind of music for any kind of social purpose. That would be utterly bizarre and require a lot of explanation.

    The fact that 5% of people may be incapable of appreciating music isn't all that surprising to me, nor does it seem all that new. Amusia is a well-studied dysfunction with a similar prevalence that hinders pitch perception and of course there are all kinds of other potential acoustic dysfunctions that could lead to a complete disaffection with music. In fact, I would be surprised if it was 100% of the population that found pleasure in it - that kind of blanket 'universality' would be at odds with everything we know about biological variation (even things as fundamental to the human condition as language and numeracy are subject to congenital disorders).

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    My wife must be among that 5%. Yes, you may pity me.

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    Senior Member violadude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freischutz View Post
    When I read the title of this post, I was expecting something else - what would surprise me (and what is more commonly denoted by "universality") is if there were a culture on earth that did not have any kind of music for any kind of social purpose. That would be utterly bizarre and require a lot of explanation.
    The first thing I thought of when I read the title is that we found a new humanoid alien life form that seem to not care for music much.

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    Senior Member apricissimus's Avatar
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    Every so often I lapse into a state where I feel like I cannot really hear music. I hear the sounds, but they make no sense to me. It's like looking at a printed page and seeing the patterns of ink, but not being able to read any of the words. Thankfully this lasts maybe a week or two then passes.

    It's actually an interesting perspective while its lasts. It gives me an insight into how weird music really is.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by apricissimus View Post
    Every so often I lapse into a state where I feel like I cannot really hear music. I hear the sounds, but they make no sense to me.
    I have a good ear, and there are times when I am not "receptive" to music. I don't "get" anything, and listening seems totally unproductive. Then all of a sudden, bingo! and I am blessed with penetrating insight once more.

    I wonder if I have enough staying power to last through the Ring Cycle? I'll have to try it out.
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
    -Confucious

    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "Everything transient is only a parable; the inadequate, this is the event; the indescribable, here it is done; the eternal feminine draws us on high." -unknown

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lope de Aguirre View Post
    My wife must be among that 5%. Yes, you may pity me.
    On the other hand, she should be immune to any musical taste, Ergo, you can listen to any and all without complaint.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by apricissimus View Post
    Every so often I lapse into a state where I feel like I cannot really hear music. I hear the sounds, but they make no sense to me. It's like looking at a printed page and seeing the patterns of ink, but not being able to read any of the words. Thankfully this lasts maybe a week or two then passes.

    It's actually an interesting perspective while its lasts. It gives me an insight into how weird music really is.
    Music, folk or 'classical,' is one of the most artificial constructs there is. I nearly howl with laughter whenever anyone tries to go down the acoustic / mathematical paths of "how organic and true it is."

    Artifice to the max, yet a lot of us seem to like it, find it more than valid, and also think it has meaning. LOL.

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    Senior Member violadude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetrB View Post
    Music, folk or 'classical,' is one of the most artificial constructs there is. I nearly howl with laughter whenever anyone tries to go down the acoustic / mathematical paths of "how organic and true it is."

    Artifice to the max, yet a lot of us seem to like it, find it more than valid, and also think it has meaning. LOL.
    This reminds me of a guy I knew in my high school orchestra who absolutely detested the idea of micro tones because, according to him, "It was basically just asking a player to play out of tune", as if the pitches within the sound spectrum that we've decided to fix for our own purposes are the only "true" pitches.

    If micro tones are merely "out of tune notes" somebody should tell all these damn birds to stop singing out of tune.
    Last edited by violadude; Mar-12-2014 at 18:01.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Amazing these clever people who publish reports stating what most people knew anyway! Of course some people have no appreciation of music. I have no appreciation of cars as aesthetic objects. They are simply functional to me! Yet from the amount of viewers watching Top Gear and the motor mags sold, obviously there are people with very different tastes to me.
    So it doesn't surprise me that some people are amusical.

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    I wouldn't compare cars with music. Cars haven't been around long and are largely functional. Music is something that does appeal across all of society and different cultures rather than being something fed specifically by economics and politics. A car is simply one means of transport. Sure it can be dressed up to be more unique looking but so can many other things which aren't at their origninal purpose artistic at all. And that's not even bringing in the various negative aspects. I don't think you can say there is something instrinsically physically dangerous with music, like much art it is simply something that is observed and thought over by its audience.
    Not really active anymore because of disagreement of how the forum is run (if I'm allowed to say that).

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by violadude View Post
    This reminds me of a guy I knew in my high school orchestra who absolutely detested the idea of micro tones because, according to him, "It was basically just asking a player to play out of tune", as if the pitches within the sound spectrum that we've decided to fix for our own purposes are the only "true" pitches.

    If micro tones are merely "out of tune notes" somebody should tell all these damn birds to stop singing out of tune.
    Ah, but the birds have never paid attention to any critics, whether the cognoscenti or the people at large. They have not thought for one moment i they are "making music," nor have they ever wondered or worried about "what the audiences want."
    Last edited by PetrB; Mar-12-2014 at 22:29.

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