Songs about a country often use its name to convey various attributes of that country. These attributes can range from freedom and diversity to sociopolitical messages. Some songs feature the mesmerizing beauty of a place, while others are protest songs demonstrating displeasure with a government’s policies.
When it comes to children’s songs, there are a number of lullabies that talk about different countries and cultures. For instance, Mongolia’s lullaby Bayartai laments the smog in the capital, which separates her from her ancestors. But she sings to her baby grandson anyway, as an air purifier hums in the background.
The study also found that listeners from different cultures were able to recognize song forms that weren’t contextualized by their own culture or social background. People in the United States and India, for example, were able to recognize certain song fragments meant for healing, to facilitate dancing, to mourn the dead, or to tell a story. While many cultures use their songs for different purposes, the common threads among these songs were the slow rhythms and the emotional content.
The study also found similarities among lullabies and dance songs. The participants rated each piece’s musical and contextual features. In general, lullabies sounded slower and sadder than dance songs, and dance songs were faster and more complex.
The researchers also found that people were able to identify certain types of songs from different cultures, even if they didn’t have any musical training. These songs could be the origin of common elements in music. Researchers say studying the origins of a song can help us learn more about the different elements.
One of the common themes in lullabies is praise for the baby. While this might seem obvious, lullabies can also express personal difficulties for the caregivers. In some cases, the words are simple and repetitive, while others are more complex and poetic.
Identifying dancing songs
A recent study suggests that music may be the universal language of mankind. Researchers at Harvard University, including psychology research associate Samuel Mehr, human evolutionary biology graduate student Manvir Singh, alumni Luke Glowacki and Hunter York, and Associate Professor of Psychology Max Krasnow, found that people from diverse countries and cultures can identify lullabies, dancing songs, and songs for healing. These songs may transcend cultural boundaries and speak of a common human experience.