New study: Your taste in music may be related to the height of your parents. Wait–what?

There’s so much we inherit from our parents, both in biological and environmental senses. That apparently includes our taste in music–but not in the way you might think.

Yes, you might get into The Beatles because mom and dad like Abbey Road a lot, but there’s more to it than that. Researchers at Cambridge say that the tempo–a general rhythm of life which includes music–is determined by the height of the parent that does most of the parenting.

If you got most of your upbringing from mom and mom was short, then her walking pace was quicker than normal thanks to her shorter legs. Babies tune into that as they’re being carried or pushed about and thus grow up to prefer quicker rhythms. A taller parent has longer legs and thus requires fewer strides to cover the same distance. That translates into a slower walking tempo. It’s all in the bouncing the baby feels while being cared for.

This study involved 115 babies. They were all given a drum and told to have at it. The tempo at which the baby hit the drum was noted to determine something called “spontaneous motor tempo,” which turned out to range between 60 and 180 beats per minute. Then the height of the parent for each baby was measured. They found that kids with taller parents banged the drum more slowly than kids with short parents.

Extrapolating everything suggests that if you had parents with above average height, you may gravitate to like songs that are slightly slower and vice-versa. (Note that the average spontaneous motor tempo in humans is about 120 bpm, which is about the same as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”)

Makes you wonder how short the parents of thrash metal fans are. Read more here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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