Why Music Is a Universal Language

Did you recognize there are approximately 7,000 spoken languages within the world today? Although only 10 percent of these are spoken by over 100,000 people, there’s clearly a communication gap between cultures throughout the globe. But there’s one language that everyone understands regardless of what tongue they speak: music. While we might not understand the lyrics of foreign songs, we all share identical emotions after we hear similar chords and melodies. Continue reading to find out more about the universal language of music.

Facial Expressions Are Universal
Before we are able to understand music as a language, we must understand emotion. Numerous studies have shown that there are six emotions everyone can identify by facial expression regardless of what culture they are available from—even if they’ve had little contact with the remainder of the planet. this implies that these emotions are rooted in evolutionary aspects of the body. This is evidenced in a very study by Paul Ekman as reported by Psychology Today. The study showed that 92 percent of African respondents and 96 percent of culture respondents could identify happy faces.

Ekman also checked out how blind children react to certain situations compared to sighted children. What he found was that while the blind children had not observed other facial expressions, they still showed identical expressions to the identical emotions as sighted children did.

Certain Sounds also are Consistent Across Cultures
So we all know that basic emotions are consistent across the planet. But the cross-cultural similarities don’t end there. Other studies show that looks like crying and laughter also are consistent between cultures, even those who sleep in remote settlements with little interaction with the surface world.

Dr. Disa Sauter studied over 20,000 individuals living on opposite ends of the world—Britain and Himba (northern Namibia)—and found that not only are facial expressions of those six basic emotions recognizable, but the vocalizations related to them are furthermore. providing certain emotions and sounds are universal, wouldn’t it add up that music may well be a universal language as well?

Pitch, Rhythm, and Tempo Are part of Language
David Ludden, Ph. D., points move in Psychology Today that one reason music could also be a universal language is that the identical components that make up music—pitch, rhythm, and tempo—are also present in everyday speech regardless of what language you’re speaking. for instance, you’ll watch a far-off movie or witness an exchange in an exceedingly foreign country, and although you will not understand exactly what things are about, you’ll typically tell how the people are feeling. At the very least, you’ll understand whether the truth may be a happy or sad one. Ludden suggests that this can be because we understand the pitch, rhythm, and tempo of speech because the identical patterns are present in our own language and across all spoken languages. With these patterns present in oral communication, we are able to interpret emotions from music using identical cues.

Musical Emotion Is Rooted in Chords
Think about it. after you hear a significant chord, you interpret the music as positive whereas if you hear a minor chord, the music feels negative. Tempo also impacts how you’re feeling. A slow song in a very key, for example, causes you to feel sad. A faster song in a very key may cause you to feel scared or angry. When played during a major chord with higher pitches, more fluctuations in rhythm, and a faster tempo, listeners typically interpret the music as happy. This concept is supported by a 2015 study that showed that musical chords are the tiniest building blocks of music that elicit emotion.

Music Elicits the identical Physiological Response Across Cultures
A recent study from McGill University further illustrates this idea. Researchers gathered 40 Pygmy and 40 Canadian participants to pay attention to 19 short musical extracts—11 of which were Western and eight were Pygmy. each bit was between 30 and 90 seconds long. The Canadian participants were all amateur or professional musicians while the Pygmies were all conversant in music because they sing regularly. After hearing the music, the researchers measured vital signs, respiration, and other physiological factors. What the researchers found was that the psychological responses from each group appeared identical, like whether the music calmed or excited them.

While we might not be ready to understand exactly what people are saying across different languages, humans have evolved to share and express identical basic emotions in similar ways. this enables us to know each other’s facial expressions whether or not we don’t share identical oral communication. When speech is incorporated into matters, we are able to still interpret emotions supported by pitch, rhythm, and tempo. due to these shared attributes across all cultures, music is one thing we are able to all agree upon and understand, making it the universal language of mankind. do that go into your classroom by playing songs in other languages and prompt your students to inform you what emotion they feel when hearing those tunes. Do they agree music may be a universal language?