Move over, math. The universal language is world music.

A new study finds that societies use the same acoustic features for the same types of songs, suggesting universal cognitive mechanisms underpinning world music.

  • Every culture in the world creates music, though stylistic diversity hides their core similarities.
  • A new study in Science finds that cultures use identifiable acoustic features in the same types of songs and that tonality exists worldwide.
  • Music is one of hundreds of human universals ethnographers have discovered.
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The dancing species: How moving together in time helps make us human

"In so far as bodily movements build the brain, every movement a human makes matters."

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Dancing is a human universal, but why?

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What were the 'dancing plagues' of the Middle Ages?

Throughout history, hundreds — sometimes thousands — of people have been spontaneously compelled to dance until collapsing or dying from exhaustion. What explanations are there for this bizarre phenomenon?

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  • In 1518, Strasbourg, 400 men and women danced until collapsing from exhaustion.
  • These "dancing plagues" occurred throughout the Middle Ages.
  • Similar spontaneous, mass compulsions have occurred throughout history, some very recently. What are they, and why do they happen?
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How a Dancer Raised to Believe Dance was a Sin Revolutionized the Artform

Every field has its revolutionaries – dance is no different. 

Martha Graham, 1919. Image: Picryl

Martha Graham, along with Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Hanya Holm, has been recognized a one of the 'big four' founders of American modern dance. For 70 years she dedicated her life to the art form, first as a performer and later as a choreographer. She ran a dance company and received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and National Medal of Arts. In 2015, Graham was posthumously inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

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