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June 1969

Folk Song Style and Culture.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;20(6):734-735. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740180118018

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This book reports a five-year NIMH-supported research study of the relationships between folk song and culture. Alan Lomax, an ethno-musicologist, directed the 14-member research team of social scientists, psychologists, linguists, and computer mathematicians. A truly staggering amount of data was collected, and reference is made to future publications.

Lomax's extensive collection of folk music from every part of the globe led him to propose that song style is "a pattern of learned behavior, common to the people of a culture." The chief purpose of song is "to express the shared feelings and mold the joint activities of some human community." He is, thus, concerned with the collective rather than the individual, with the normative rather than the particular patterning of behavior. His hypotheses stem directly from this concern. Of special interest for psychiatry is the resulting information about patterns of premarital conduct, of

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