Music is a vital part of most cultures and has a strong impact on emotions. In Western cultures, emotive valence is strongly influenced by major and minor melodies and harmony (chords and their progressions). Yet, how pitch and harmony affect our emotions, and to what extent these effects are culturally mediated or universal, is hotly debated. Here, we report an experiment conducted in a remote cloud forest region of Papua New Guinea, across several communities with similar traditional music but differing levels of exposure to Western-influenced tonal music. One hundred and seventy participants were presented with pairs of major and minor cadences (chord progressions) and melodies, and chose which of them made them happier. The experiment was repeated by 60 non-musicians and 19 musicians in Sydney, Australia. Bayesian analyses show that, for cadences, there is strong evidence that greater happiness was reported for major than minor in every community except one: the community with minimal exposure to Western-like music. For melodies, there is strong evidence that greater happiness was reported for those with higher mean pitch (major melodies) than those with lower mean pitch (minor melodies) in only one of the three PNG communities and in both Sydney groups. The results show that the emotive valence of major and minor is strongly associated with exposure to Western-influenced music and culture, although we cannot exclude the possibility of universality.