This question might appear as a trivial, easy-to-answer question. However, if a large portion of a population lacks the ability to sing, the song will not be sung and thus do not contribute to the population’s overall musical culture. In a study of the singing ability of the British of European and African ancestry, Tannenbaum, Bechtel, and Tannenbaum (1994) found that about 15%-40% of the African American population fails to sing. Also, the ability to sing is reduced in deaf people as well as in speech impaired people.
If there is more variation within a people than in the people themselves, then the songs of a people may vary from those of another people with some genes that influence their song production and others that influence their singing. It is a matter of interpretation when songs are considered within any given society. However, by analyzing and comparing songs from different societies, and then comparing the variation within individuals with variation from one person to the next, we are able to discover common characteristics common to all music and to the musical tradition of a culture.
In a paper entitled “The Musical Heritage of the People of the United States of Africa and Latin America: A Comparative Study of Music, Language, and Culture”, (Smith, 1996), Smith explains that each of the languages spoken among the people of the United States of North America can be described as having approximately 50% African descent whereas the languages spoken in the Caribbean region, Central America, and Asia contain about 80%, 82%, and 93% African and American descent, respectively. These commonalities are attributed on a genetic and cultural basis to both genetic diversity and cultural influences of both of these cultures. Therefore, as the study progresses, each group becomes more and more like each other. Smith goes on to demonstrate this in the following manner:
“In most of the groups of Americans, the most common word is “tough”. The words used in American English to express anger, frustration, fear or anxiety are typically “bruised”, “scared”, and “outraged”. The English words used to describe pain are typically “fear” “worry” and “numb”. Only in the South and Southwest of the country do word categories of anger and frustration not correspond to the dominant usage of these word groups in the American language. The Southern groups have the word “anger” only occasionally being used in their everyday communications. Likewise, the South has the word “pain” very rarely, and the South West
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