You may want to blame your culture if your taste in music is weird, suggests a new study.
In Western styles of music, from classical to pop, some combinations of notes are generally considered more pleasant than others. To most of our ears, a chord of C and G, for example, sounds much more agreeable than the grating combination of C and F sharp, which has historically been known as the “devil in music.”
For decades, neuro scientists have pondered whether this preference is somehow hardwired into our brains. A new study from MIT and Brandeis University suggests that the answer is no.
In a study of more than 100 people belonging to a remote Amazonian tribe with little or no exposure to Western music, the researchers found that dissonant chords such as the combination of C and F sharp were rated just as likeable as “consonant” chords, which feature simple integer ratios between the acoustical frequencies of the two notes.
“This study suggests that preferences for consonance over dissonance depend on exposure to Western musical culture, and that the preference is not innate,” said researcher Josh McDermott of MIT.
The study appears in Nature.