Sam Mehr and Manvir Singh from Harvard’s Music Lab talk with us about their research suggesting that people across the world can detect the social purpose of other cultures’ songs based only on how they sound. Their open-access article, “Form and function in human song”  was published in Current Biology on February 5th 2018. The article was co-authored with Hunter York, Luke Glowacki, and Max M. Krasnow.




Bonus clips

Patrons of Parsing Science gain exclusive access to bonus clips from all our episodes and can also download mp3s of every individual episode.

Support us for as little as $1 per month at Patreon. Cancel anytime.

Patrons can access bonus content here.

We’re not a registered tax-exempt organization, so unfortunately gifts aren’t tax deductible.


Hosts / Producers

Ryan Watkins & Doug Leigh

How to Cite

Watkins, R., Leigh, D., Mehr, S., & Singh, M.. (2018, February 20). Parsing Science – Universals in Songs. figshare.


What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers

Share a clip from the episode