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Cross-National Attunement to Popular Songs across Time and Place: A Sociology of Popular Music in the United States, Germany, Thailand, and Tanzania

by Tony Waters 1,2,* and David Philhour 3
1
Department of Peace Studies, Payap University, Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand
2
Department of Sociology, California State University, Chico, CA 95929, USA
3
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, California State University, Chico, CA 95929, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(11), 305; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8110305
Received: 12 July 2019 / Revised: 2 October 2019 / Accepted: 28 October 2019 / Published: 5 November 2019
This paper explores empirically Edward T. Hall’s assertion about the role of musical elements, including rhythm recognition and what are called “ear worms” in popular culture. To test Hall’s assertion, data were collected from the United States, Germany, Tanzania, and Thailand in 2015–2017 using a 26 brief “song intros.” Data were also collected from exchange students from South Korea and Turkey. Survey responses were analyzed using factor analysis in order to identify patterns of recognition. It was found that there were indeed patterns of recognition apparently reflecting national boundaries for some song recognition, but others crossed boundaries. A separate analysis of patterned recognition comparing American youth under thirty, with elders over 60 indicated that there were also boundaries between age groups. Such experiments in music recognition are an effective methodology for Culture Studies given that musical elements are tied to issues of identity, culture, and even politics. Music recognition can be used to measure elements of such subconscious habitus. View Full-Text
Keywords: popular music; culture studies; Theodor Adorno; Edward T. Hall; attunement; youth culture popular music; culture studies; Theodor Adorno; Edward T. Hall; attunement; youth culture
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Waters, T.; Philhour, D. Cross-National Attunement to Popular Songs across Time and Place: A Sociology of Popular Music in the United States, Germany, Thailand, and Tanzania. Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 305.

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