, Volume 287, Issue 4, pp 337-349
Date: 04 Mar 2012

A comparative phylogenetic study of genetics and folk music

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Abstract

Computer-aided comparison of folk music from different nations is one of the newest research areas. We were intrigued to have identified some important similarities between phylogenetic studies and modern folk music. First of all, both of them use similar concepts and representation tools such as multidimensional scaling for modelling relationship between populations. This gave us the idea to investigate whether these connections are merely accidental or if they mirror population migrations from the past. We raised the question; does the complex structure of musical connections display a clear picture and can this system be interpreted by the genetic analysis? This study is the first to systematically investigate the incidental genetic background of the folk music context between different populations. Paternal (42 populations) and maternal lineages (56 populations) were compared based on Fst genetic distances of the Y chromosomal and mtDNA haplogroup frequencies. To test this hypothesis, the corresponding musical cultures were also compared using an automatic overlap analysis of parallel melody styles for 31 Eurasian nations. We found that close musical relations of populations indicate close genetic distances (<0.05) with a probability of 82%. It was observed that there is a significant correlation between population genetics and folk music; maternal lineages have a more important role in folk music traditions than paternal lineages. Furthermore, the combination of these disciplines establishing a new interdisciplinary research field of “music-genetics” can be an efficient tool to get a more comprehensive picture on the complex behaviour of populations in prehistoric time.

Communicated by S. Hohmann.