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Indifference to dissonance in native Amazonians reveals cultural variation in music perception

Overview of attention for article published in Nature, July 2016
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (97th percentile)

Mentioned by

news
67 news outlets
blogs
17 blogs
twitter
1080 tweeters
facebook
13 Facebook pages
googleplus
14 Google+ users
reddit
2 Redditors
video
1 video uploader

Citations

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30 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
278 Mendeley
Title
Indifference to dissonance in native Amazonians reveals cultural variation in music perception
Published in
Nature, July 2016
DOI 10.1038/nature18635
Pubmed ID
Authors

Josh H. McDermott, Alan F. Schultz, Eduardo A. Undurraga, Ricardo A. Godoy

Abstract

Music is present in every culture, but the degree to which it is shaped by biology remains debated. One widely discussed phenomenon is that some combinations of notes are perceived by Westerners as pleasant, or consonant, whereas others are perceived as unpleasant, or dissonant. The contrast between consonance and dissonance is central to Western music, and its origins have fascinated scholars since the ancient Greeks. Aesthetic responses to consonance are commonly assumed by scientists to have biological roots, and thus to be universally present in humans. Ethnomusicologists and composers, in contrast, have argued that consonance is a creation of Western musical culture. The issue has remained unresolved, partly because little is known about the extent of cross-cultural variation in consonance preferences. Here we report experiments with the Tsimane'-a native Amazonian society with minimal exposure to Western culture-and comparison populations in Bolivia and the United States that varied in exposure to Western music. Participants rated the pleasantness of sounds. Despite exhibiting Western-like discrimination abilities and Western-like aesthetic responses to familiar sounds and acoustic roughness, the Tsimane' rated consonant and dissonant chords and vocal harmonies as equally pleasant. By contrast, Bolivian city- and town-dwellers exhibited significant preferences for consonance, albeit to a lesser degree than US residents. The results indicate that consonance preferences can be absent in cultures sufficiently isolated from Western music, and are thus unlikely to reflect innate biases or exposure to harmonic natural sounds. The observed variation in preferences is presumably determined by exposure to musical harmony, suggesting that culture has a dominant role in shaping aesthetic responses to music.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 278 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 6 2%
Japan 6 2%
United States 4 1%
Denmark 2 <1%
Mexico 1 <1%
Italy 1 <1%
France 1 <1%
Portugal 1 <1%
Luxembourg 1 <1%
Other 3 1%
Unknown 252 91%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 67 24%
Student > Master 42 15%
Researcher 42 15%
Student > Bachelor 41 15%
Professor 16 6%
Other 70 25%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Psychology 64 23%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 37 13%
Arts and Humanities 34 12%
Neuroscience 31 11%
Unspecified 20 7%
Other 92 33%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 1106. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 03 October 2018.
All research outputs
#2,538
of 12,380,434 outputs
Outputs from Nature
#455
of 64,936 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#129
of 261,663 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Nature
#25
of 916 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 12,380,434 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 64,936 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 72.4. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its peers.
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We're also able to compare this research output to 916 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its contemporaries.