A scientific project entitled the Natural History of Song (NHS) is striving to determine the foundations upon which all of the world’s music is built. The research has found that listeners unfamiliar with a culture could still correctly identify the occasions of its songs, such as whether each is a lullaby or love song. They also found that nearly all songs belong to a musical key. However, critics – especially ethnomusicologists – have directed a number of criticisms at the project (e.g., it adopts an entirely western perspective). Nonetheless, the NHS project continues and may serve to stimulate more research and discussion on the topic.
- Researchers in a study found that many people were able to determine love, lullaby and dance songs from other languages and cultures.
- Previous research had indicated that individual experiences and cultures formed each person’s perception of musical genres.
- The research is not extensive enough to be all-encompassing, and doesn’t cover lyrical context such as irony and sarcasm.
“Almost every society the researchers studied sang songs in the context of 20 types of behavior, including dance, infant care, healing, religious activity, entertainment and mourning.”