Botswana has the most unique music in the world while China’s sound is the most distinct from its neighbours, according to an analysis of 8,200 recordings of folk and traditional music from 137 countries around the world.
The study, led by Maria Panteli of Queen Mary’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science in London, used signal-processing tools to compare musical characteristics of the recordings, such as rhythm, melody, timbre, and harmony, against music from the rest of the world.
The researchers aimed to identify recordings with outstanding musical characteristics, referred to as ‘outliers’.
Botswana was named as the country with the most outliers, with 61 percent of its recordings identified as being distinctly different from music around the world. This was followed by Ivory Coast (60 percent), Chad (55 percent), and Benin (54 percent).
Panteli and her researchers also compared recordings of neighbouring countries to discover the music cultures that are particularly unique compared to their spatial neighbours.
They found that China is the country with the most spatial outliers (26 percent), followed by Brazil (24 percent), Colombia (21 percent) and Mozambique (21 percent).
Panteli said: ‘This is the first study to investigate outliers in world music with such a large scale and tracing the geographic origin of these recordings could help identify areas of the world that have developed a unique musical character.
‘There is a lot to be explored yet and we believe continuing on this line of research will help us understand better the music cultures of the world.’