World Music

Peoples around the world have their own languages and traditions. But their songs share universal patterns.

Music resonates in every culture. Songs vary within a culture more than they do between cultures.

Across all cultures, there are 4 distinct song types: dance tunes, healing hymns, love ballads, and lullabies. These categories share the same characteristics regardless of culture. For example, dance songs are faster and more rhythmic than lullabies, while love songs have more varied pitches than dance songs do. Listeners can recognize the type of song from a different culture from its musical features.

Music is emblematic of the fact that aesthetics is biologically based. Colors, for instance, carry similar significations regardless of culture.

As biology delimits aesthetics, art may be “objectively” assessed for its quality, even as taste remains subjective.


Ishi Nobu, Spokes 5: The Echoes of the Mind, BookBaby (2019).

Vast musical database reveals common threads in songs around the world,” Nature (21 November 2019).