Cross-Cultural Music Experiences (04-05-22)

New research verifies that sensory experiences vary by culture.  For a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences n international research team led by Elizabeth Margulis and Devin McAuley “asked hundreds of people what stories they imagined when listening to instrumental music. . . . listeners in Michigan and Arkansas imagined very similar scenes, while listeners in China envisioned completely different stories. . . . For example, a musical passage identified only as W9 brought to mind a sunrise over a forest, with animals waking and birds chirping for American listeners, while those in Dimen [China] pictured a man blowing a leaf on a mountain, singing a song to his beloved. . . . the same music sparked very similar visuals in hundreds of listeners — unless they had grown up in a different cultural context.” The researchers were careful to use musical pieces that had not been part of movie soundtracks, etc.

“What Do You See When You Listen to Music?”  2022.  Press release, Princeton University,