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November 16, 2009

Nokia Music study shows we can’t help loving pop

CWMgenericGLOBALNokia Music has published results of a study revealing that genetics play as much a role in musical taste is influence does. The Nokia study looked into the music tastes of nearly 4,000 twins and found that taste is as much nature as nurture overall, but that the ratio varies depending on the musical genre. Nature’s influence ranked highest (53 per cent) with pop and classical music – unsurprising when you consider the point of popular music is to strike a chord that appeals to all listeners.

Appreciation of jazz, blues and soul is the next most likely set of genres to be influenced by genetics, while at the bottom of the pile was country and folk, which is just 24 per cent nature. Adrian North, Professor of Psychology at Heriot Watt University, said the findings of the study were consistent with previous efforts to study the relationship between environment and genetics when it comes to musical taste. Commenting on the study, North said

“Previous studies have shown that perfect pitch ability appears to be partly inherent and with as much as 50% of our musical taste being predetermined, it appears there is a strong argument for the existence of ‘music genes’”

The study also showed that the effect of nature diminished over time and that the older you are, the more likely it is that your taste reflects experience rather than genetics.

And while genetic influence on the music we like is clear, genes have a significantly lower influence on why we listen to music. The study claims listening habits are influenced by a desire to soundtrack our day, wanting to set a mood, or simply to enjoy the listening experience – rather than any ‘play music now’ gene.

Nokia Music’s Liz Schimel explained the reasons behind the study:

“If we’re to give music fans the music they want, we need to know what fuels their passions,”

The study was carried out by Nokia in conjunction with Kings’ College London Department of Twin Research.