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Keywords:

  • Music;
  • Learning;
  • Processing;
  • Ethnomusicology;
  • Culture

Abstract

The vast majority of experimental studies of music to date have explored music in terms of the processes involved in the perception and cognition of complex sonic patterns that can elicit emotion. This paper argues that this conception of music is at odds both with recent Western musical scholarship and with ethnomusicological models, and that it presents a partial and culture-specific representation of what may be a generic human capacity. It argues that the cognitive sciences must actively engage with the problems of exploring music as manifested and conceived in the broad spectrum of world cultures, not only to elucidate the diversity of music in mind but also to identify potential commonalities that could illuminate the relationships between music and other domains of thought and behavior.