Does the music of love sound the same around the world?
The search for musical universals has preoccupied science for over 100 years. Acoustically measurable intervals, such as octaves and fifths, could indeed be detected globally. Strongly functional forms of music, such as dance melodies and lullabies, are also recognized across cultures.
But it’s different with love. It may be considered a basic emotion, but it is shaped by many other factors. This is also reflected in music: Without a more precise knowledge of the text, performance and socio-cultural context, love songs are often difficult to identify as such. This is also true of Western popular music, as many textual misunderstandings prove. But, conversely, that’s what’s fascinating about musicology: Love sounds different in every culture and can be discovered in ever new, multifaceted forms of expression.
About the person
Prof. Dr. Britta Sweers
is Professor of Cultural Anthropology of Music at the Institute of Musicology at the University of Bern. From 2015 to 2019, she was Director of the Center for Global Studies. In addition to the transformation of traditional music in the context of globalization, her current research focuses on soundscapes and climate change in the Arctic.
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