“Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.”
It has often been said the music is the universal language. That now appears to be a scientific fact.
The Mafa farmers of Cameroon are almost completely insulated from Western culture, and that’s fine with them. They don’t know the Beatles from Beethoven. So scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany thought that they would be perfect for their study of music. Scientists played select pieces of Western music to Mafa volunteers. The volunteers, who had never heard the music before, were asked to identify what they thought the mood of the music was. Most of them identified as “sad” passages that were intended to be sad. Faster music was understood to be happy. And even passages intended to be understood as “fearful” were correctly understood by the volunteers. They also correctly interpreted the meaning of pieces written in major and minor keys. Likewise, Mafa music was played for Western volunteers. They correctly identified the mood being conveyed by the music. The Mafa people typically produce joyful flute music for their rituals.
Apparently, music really is the universal language. And music is natural to man. Genesis tells us that by the third generation of humans, musical instruments were already being fashioned.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the gift of music. Help me always to sing Your praises with joy in my heart. Amen.
Author: Paul A. Bartz
Ref: Science News, 4/11/09, p.14. Bruce Bower, “Two Cultures Grasp Music’s Universal Meaning.” Photo: World of Music by R.J. Michaud
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