In their commentary on our work, Ravignani and Verhoef (2018) raise concerns about two methodological aspects of our experimental paradigm (the signaling game): (1) the use of melodic signals of fixed length and duration, and (2) the fact that signals are endowed with meaning. They argue that music is hardly a semantic system and that our methodological choices may limit the capacity of our paradigm to shed light on the emergence and evolution of a number of putative musical universals. We reply that musical systems are semantic systems and that the aim of our research is not to study musical universals as such, but to compare more closely the kinds of principles that organize meaning and structure in linguistic and musical systems.
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology