Musical ability — it’s all in the genes ( Hindu Business Line Article)

Musical ability — it’s all in the genes


Either you have it in you, or you don’t. And, the kind of music that you take to is genetically determined as well

Several years ago, I watched a documentary musical, Latcho Drom , about the migration of the Romany people from India to Egypt, Turkey, Romania Hungary, Slovakia, France and Spain. The beautiful transition of music as the central theme of their cultural migration is sketched in my mind. Recent studies in genetics also point to genetic similarity that shows the same migration pattern.

The other interesting correlation is between musical ability and genetics. There are some people who seem to have an inbuilt musical ability. Like wealth, music has been carefully preserved and proliferates in certain families; in the gharanas of the Hindustani music tradition, such as Patiala, Agra, Gwalior and Jaipur, for instance. Interestingly, in the Carnatic tradition, many of the musicians are brahmins. This shows that genes have a possible impact at two levels: on musical ability and the kind of music that one takes to.

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