Music Theorist Daniel Shanahan recommends “Indifference to dissonance in native Amazonians reveals cultural variation in music perception” by Josh H. McDermott, Alan F. Schultz, Eduardo A. Undurraga, and Ricardo A. Godoy, published in Nature Letters in 2016. Dan and Finn interview Josh about the musical culture of the Tsimane people, adapting music cognition experiments for cross-cultural studies, and what the absence of preference for consonant intervals (over dissonant intervals) in the people of one culture means for theories of music cognition more broadly.
- [0:00:00] Introduction with Dan
- [0:13:16] Interview with Josh and introduction to the Tsimane and their music culture
- [0:22:41] Experiment Design on Preference for Consonance and Dissonance
- [0:28:04] Experiment results and the distinction between melodic and harmonic intervals
- [0:32:53] Cross-culture study methodologies and follow up studies
- [0:38:39] Implications of results on experiences of western music listeners
- [0:42:04] Relationship of these results to other studies of preference for consonance
- [0:48:16] Closing with Dan
- Recommended article:
- McDermott, J. H., Schultz, A. F., Undurraga, E. A., & Godoy, R. A. (2016). Indifference to dissonance in native Amazonians reveals cultural variation in music perception. Nature, 535(7613), 547.
- Interviewee: Prof. Josh McDermott, Associate Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Co-host: Prof. Dan Shanahan, Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Cognition at Ohio State University
- Works cited in the discussion:
- Trainor, L. J., Tsang, C. D., & Cheung, V. H. (2002). Preference for sensory consonance in 2-and 4-month-old infants. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 20(2), 187-194.
- Chiandetti, C., & Vallortigara, G. (2011). Chicks like consonant music. Psychological science, 22(10), 1270-1273.
- McDermott, J., & Hauser, M. (2004). Are consonant intervals music to their ears? Spontaneous acoustic preferences in a nonhuman primate. Cognition, 94(2), B11-B21.
- Polak, R., London, J., & Jacoby, N. (2016). Both isochronous and non-isochronous metrical subdivision afford precise and stable ensemble entrainment: a corpus study of malian jembe drumming. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10, 285.
- Jacoby, N., & McDermott, J. H. (2017). Integer ratio priors on musical rhythm revealed cross-culturally by iterated reproduction. Current Biology, 27(3), 359-370.
The So Strangely Podcast is produced by Finn Upham, 2018.
Audio samples of Tsimane singing and experiment stimuli are taken form the Supplementary materials (samples 3, 4, 8, and 1) to the recommended article. Included with permission from Prof. McDermott.
The closing music includes a sample of Deutsch’s Speech-Song Illusion Sound Demo 1.