Musical Brains: Lullabies

ambience: lullabies, various, sung

We’re listening to lullabies from around the world, and there’s something about a lullaby that touches infants and adults alike. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Sandra Trehub is a psychologist at the University of Toronto who has devoted her life to studying the musical ability of the human brain. Through her research, she’s collected and recorded lullabies from many cultures, and she believes that no matter where they’re from, all lullabies have a quality that makes them easy to recognize.

“When you listen to that music, it’s not that you think you’re hearing a Western tune. You don’t. But at the same time, you know it’s a lullaby. You get to see that there are really common features.”

“That material, by being simple repetitive — not only soothing to infants. It can be soothing to many other people. And I’m surprised at how something that is so simple and repetitive can still seem so soothing.”

Sandra Trehub was also surprised to discover that these repetitive lullabies are often songs that people wish to hear over and over again. It’s her theory that rather than becoming bored by the repetition, we tend to find comfort in the familiarity of these simple tunes.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Musical Brains: Lullabies

The unique qualities of lullabies transcend age and culture.
Air Date:03/06/2009
Scientist:
Transcript:


ambience: lullabies, various, sung

We're listening to lullabies from around the world, and there's something about a lullaby that touches infants and adults alike. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Sandra Trehub is a psychologist at the University of Toronto who has devoted her life to studying the musical ability of the human brain. Through her research, she's collected and recorded lullabies from many cultures, and she believes that no matter where they're from, all lullabies have a quality that makes them easy to recognize.

"When you listen to that music, it's not that you think you're hearing a Western tune. You don't. But at the same time, you know it's a lullaby. You get to see that there are really common features."

"That material, by being simple repetitive -- not only soothing to infants. It can be soothing to many other people. And I'm surprised at how something that is so simple and repetitive can still seem so soothing."

Sandra Trehub was also surprised to discover that these repetitive lullabies are often songs that people wish to hear over and over again. It's her theory that rather than becoming bored by the repetition, we tend to find comfort in the familiarity of these simple tunes.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.