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You are here: McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind > Publications > Lullabies and Simplicity: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

Anna M Unyk, Sandra E Trehub, Laurel J Trainor, and E. G Schellenberg (1992)

Lullabies and Simplicity: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

Psychology of Music, 20(1):15-28.

Pairs of folk lullabies and comparison songs from different cultures were presented to adult listeners, who were required to choose the simpler song in each pair. Adults judged the lullaby excerpts as simpler whether presented with original field recordings, low-pass filtered versions that made the words unintelligible or excerpts synthesised with a uniform (piano) timbre. Structural analyses of the songs failed to reveal musical features that differentiated lullabies from other songs. Nevertheless, such analyses revealed melodic features that predicted adults' identification of lullabies.