Wednesday, November 05, 2014

what's so important about musical scales...

PNAS | Significance

The song of the hermit thrush, a common North American songbird, is renowned for its apparent musicality and has attracted the attention of musicians and ornithologists for more than a century. Here we show that hermit thrush songs, like much human music, use pitches that are mathematically related by simple integer ratios and follow the harmonic series. Our findings add to a small but growing body of research showing that a preference for small-integer ratio intervals is not unique to humans and are thus particularly relevant to the ongoing nature/nurture debate about whether musical predispositions such as the preference for consonant intervals are biologically or culturally driven.