Study shows music shares same beat and purpose worldwide

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Music shares the same beat across the world, study finds.

Researchers from University of Exeter and Tokyo University of the Arts recently explored why people make music. Is making music more than just individual expression?


Findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggest music has universal aspects that helps societies form bonds.

For this study researchers looked at music throughout the world, discovering common features that they say were consistently present.

Dr Thomas Currie from the University of Exeter said in a media release: "Our findings help explain why humans make music. The results show that the most common features seen in music around the world relate to things that allow people to coordinate their actions, and suggest that the main function of music is to bring people together and bond social groups - it can be a kind of social glue."


Analysis of 304 recordings across the world showed similarities in musical pitch and rhythm. The researchers say the finding dispels any skepticism about

Lead author Pat Savage, a PhD student from the Tokyo University of the Arts, said: "In the old days, Western people believed that Western scales were universal. But then when we realised that other cultures had quite different ideas about scales, that led some people to conclude that there was nothing universal about music, which I think is just as silly."

Savage added that the music throughout the world contains the same "building blocks" and performs the same function throughout the world of bringing people together without the need for language.

The analysis shows that music has the same beat across the world and is a powerful way that helps people form bonds.