The structure of cross-cultural musical diversity

Tom Rzeszutek, Patrick E. Savage, Steven Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Human cultural traits, such as languages, musics, rituals and material objects, vary widely across cultures. However, the majority of comparative analyses of human cultural diversity focus on between-culture variation without consideration for within-culture variation. In contrast, biological approaches to genetic diversity, such as the analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) framework, partition genetic diversity into both within- and between-population components. We attempt here for the first time to quantify both components of cultural diversity by applying the AMOVA model to music. By employing this approach with 421 traditional songs from 16 Austronesian-speaking populations, we show that the vast majority of musical variability is due to differences within populations rather than differences between. This demonstrates a striking parallel to the structure of genetic diversity in humans. A neighbour-net analysis of pairwise population musical divergence shows a large amount of reticulation, indicating the pervasive occurrence of borrowing and/or convergent evolution of musical features across populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1606-1612
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume279
Issue number1733
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Apr 22
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Analysis of molecular variance
  • Austronesian language family
  • Cultural diversity
  • Music
  • Population structure
  • Taiwan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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