A big new study was released today, with lots of media attention.

A Study Suggests That People Can Hear Universal Traits in Music is a good and thorough piece about it at The Atlantic.

But, the best piece about it – by far – is a New York Times interactive titled Can You Tell a Lullaby from a Love Song? Listen and Find Out.

It’s subtitled “A new study suggests that some types of song are universal, recognizable by people across all cultures. But not everyone is convinced.”

The interactive contains a quiz. Here is how it’s described:

Can you tell what a song’s used for even when you have no experience of the culture that made it?

We’ll ask you to listen to eight songs from traditional societies, then guess what the songs are used for. Scientists used a version of this test to help find out if there’s anything universal underpinning the world’s music.


This is perfect for IB Theory of Knowledge classes when we explore language and music.  It’s also great when learning about different cultures.

So, I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures.

NOTE: NPR has a less ambitious interactive quiz using the same research.