Music Truly Is The Universal Language Of Mankind


Have you ever wondered why we all love listening to music so much?

Music is “The universal language of mankind,” said 19th Century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. And it turns out he was right.

New scientific study has proven that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow music has a similar effect on people, regardless of their cultures.

Researchers from Canadian universities McGill University and the University of Montreal, along with fellow researchers from Technische Universität Berlin, traveled to the heart of the African rainforest to find Mbenzele Pygmies, a tribe in the Congo. They played classical music to members of the tribe and recorded their physiological responses. The researchers then played the same music to 40 residents of Montreal. The results showed that both the pygmies and the Montreal residents responded to the music in near precisely the same way.

This is major news. It means that, as Lonfellow said, language is indeed the universal language of mankind, because psychologically music means the same thing to different people regardless of culture or background.


music is the universal language of mankind quote

It turns out music really is the universal language of mankind

The researcher are excited by their discovery.

“Our major discovery shows that listeners from very different groups both respond to how exciting or calming they felt the music to be in similar ways,” said Hauke Egermann, one of the study authors.

The music used in the study comprised a combination of western classical music and Mbenzélé melodies, totaling nineteen tracks, each lasting up to 90 seconds.

The western music included pieces from the soundtracks to Psycho and Star Wars, music which creates a disparate array of emotions, from sadness to joy. The tribal music was ceremonial Mbenzélé Pygmies vocal pieces used for the relief of grief, for good luck in hunting for food, and for other ceremonial purposes.

Researchers asked the Canadian and Pygmy listeners to rate the music on an emotional level, stating whether the music left them feeling joyous or calm, and so on. Biosensors recorded physiological reactions in the group, including heart rate, perspiration and more.

Despite the fact that both groups had widely differing musical preferences, the physiological and emotional responses to the specific music played to them were largely the same. Both the physical and subjective responses were the same between the Pygmies and the Montreal residents.

The researchers conclude that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow hit the nail on the head. Music truly is the universal language of mankind. “This is probably due to certain low-level aspects of music such as tempo (or beat), pitch (how high or low the music is on the scale) and timbre (tone colour or quality), but this will need further research,” explained Egermann.

You can learn more about this amazing research here.

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