Music across cultures

William Thompson, Yanan Sun, Tom Fritz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


Most research on the perception and cognition of music has involved the consideration of measurements taken from Western listeners in response to presentation of Western tonal music. Within the flagship journal Music Perception between 1983 and 2010, over half of all published research involving pre-composed music used Western tonal music from the clas­sical era, and only a small percentage of papers considered responses to non-Western genres (Tirovolas & Levitin, 2011). This reliance on Western listeners is understandable given the difficulties of conducting research on non-Western participants with minimal exposure to Western music, but researchers have few options other than acknowledging the limitations of generalizability. Another strategy is to focus on responses to abstract auditory stimuli designed to isolate individual mechanisms that may be engaged in music perception, such as pitch discrimination, pitch contour, roughness, and metric pulse. Such mechanisms may operate independently of enculturation, and some have been identified in nonhuman ani­mals (Cook, Rouse, Wilson, & Reichmuth, 2013; Hasegawa, Okanoya, Hasegawa, & Seki, 2011; Patel, Iverson, Bregman, & Schultz, 2009; Sugimoto et al., 2010). However, their capacity to account for all aspects of musical experience is limited.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFoundations in music psychology: Theory and research
EditorsPeter Jason Rentfrow, Daniel J. Levitin
PublisherThe MIT Press
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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