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The book can be viewed as representing the birth of evolutionary biomusicology.What biological and cognitive forces have shaped humankind's musical behavior and the rich global repertoire of musical structures? What is music for, and why does every human culture have it? What are the universal features of music and musical behavior across cultures? In this groundbreaking b The book can be viewed as representing the birth of evolutionary biomusicology.What biological and cognitive forces have shaped humankind's musical behavior and the rich global repertoire of musical structures? What is music for, and why does every human culture have it? What are the universal features of music and musical behavior across cultures? In this groundbreaking book, musicologists, biologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, ethologists, and linguists come together for the first time to examine these and related issues. The book can be viewed as representing the birth of evolutionary biomusicology--the study of which will contribute greatly to our understanding of the evolutionary precursors of human music, the evolution of the hominid vocal tract, localization of brain function, the structure of acoustic-communication signals, symbolic gesture, emotional manipulation through sound, self-expression, creativity, the human affinity for the spiritual, and the human attachment to music itself. Contributors Simha Arom, Derek Bickerton, Steven Brown, Ellen Dissanayake, Dean Falk, David W. Frayer, Walter Freeman, Thomas Geissmann, Marc D. Hauser, Michel Imberty, Harry Jerison, Drago Kunej, Fran�ois-Bernard M�che, Peter Marler, Bj�rn Merker, Geoffrey Miller, Jean Molino, Bruno Nettl, Chris Nicolay, Katharine Payne, Bruce Richman, Peter J.B. Slater, Peter Todd, Sandra Trehub, Ivan Turk, Maria Ujhelyi, Nils L. Wallin, Carol Whaling


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The book can be viewed as representing the birth of evolutionary biomusicology.What biological and cognitive forces have shaped humankind's musical behavior and the rich global repertoire of musical structures? What is music for, and why does every human culture have it? What are the universal features of music and musical behavior across cultures? In this groundbreaking b The book can be viewed as representing the birth of evolutionary biomusicology.What biological and cognitive forces have shaped humankind's musical behavior and the rich global repertoire of musical structures? What is music for, and why does every human culture have it? What are the universal features of music and musical behavior across cultures? In this groundbreaking book, musicologists, biologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, ethologists, and linguists come together for the first time to examine these and related issues. The book can be viewed as representing the birth of evolutionary biomusicology--the study of which will contribute greatly to our understanding of the evolutionary precursors of human music, the evolution of the hominid vocal tract, localization of brain function, the structure of acoustic-communication signals, symbolic gesture, emotional manipulation through sound, self-expression, creativity, the human affinity for the spiritual, and the human attachment to music itself. Contributors Simha Arom, Derek Bickerton, Steven Brown, Ellen Dissanayake, Dean Falk, David W. Frayer, Walter Freeman, Thomas Geissmann, Marc D. Hauser, Michel Imberty, Harry Jerison, Drago Kunej, Fran�ois-Bernard M�che, Peter Marler, Bj�rn Merker, Geoffrey Miller, Jean Molino, Bruno Nettl, Chris Nicolay, Katharine Payne, Bruce Richman, Peter J.B. Slater, Peter Todd, Sandra Trehub, Ivan Turk, Maria Ujhelyi, Nils L. Wallin, Carol Whaling

30 review for The Origins of Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Steger

    For anyone interested in why humans (and perhaps other animals) make music, this is a crucial book (despite the fact that it was published more than a decade ago). (I might add here that most of the contributors to this book begin with the pemise that human music grew out of some kind of evolutionary adaptation. For a more recent argument that music is NOT an adaptation, see this excellent lecture from Stanford: http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/m... ) Here are my summaries of the essays includ For anyone interested in why humans (and perhaps other animals) make music, this is a crucial book (despite the fact that it was published more than a decade ago). (I might add here that most of the contributors to this book begin with the pemise that human music grew out of some kind of evolutionary adaptation. For a more recent argument that music is NOT an adaptation, see this excellent lecture from Stanford: http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/m... ) Here are my summaries of the essays included in the book: Insights from Animals (Peter Marler) -- birdsong and primate vocalization; signals of emotional state of signaler; do animal vocalizations have meaning? Alarm calls and food calls; lexicoding (vocalizations encoded with symbolic meaning) versus phonocoding (vocalizations that recombine sound for the sake of signal diversity); phonocoding is the precursor of both language and music Birdsong Repertoires: Their Origins and Use (Peter Slater) -- birdsong is mostly a male activity, for attracting mates or defending territory; bird species with elaborate songs tend to be species in which females are attracted to males with most elaborate song; once learned, bird songs tend to remain fixed, with little or no improvisation; mimicry evolved as a means of diversifying song; vocal learning evolved very differently in birds and in humans What's Behind a Song?  The Neural Basis of Song Learning in Birds (Carol Whaling) -- Songbirds must learn to sing, but they are innately drawn to their own species' songs; if young birds are deprived of hearing song during a sensitive developmental period, they will sing abnormally, and will never sing their own species' song in a normal manner The Sound and the Fury: Primate Vocalizations as Reflections of Emotion and Thought (Marc Hauser) -- Nonhuman primates use vocalizations to communicate about their emotional states and their environment; primates use sound to refer to things, in a rudimentary manner; vocalizations also play a conventional role, in groups of primates; the production and reception of vocalizations in primates appears to be tied to hemispheric assymetries in non-human primate brains Gibbon Songs and Human Music from an Evolutionary Perspective (Thomas Geissman) -- Male gibbons often 'sing' in pairs, following established patterns and rhythms; singing behavior seems to have evolved differently, and at different times, among different primate species; the loud, long calls of Old World monkeys and apes are the most likely precursors of human singing and human music Social Organization as a Factor in the Origins of Language (Maria Ujhelyi) -- vocalizations among the great apes (esp. chimps and bonobos) seem to be conditioned by, and play a significant role in, social organization and in creating networks and bonds The Changing Songs of Humpback Whales: A Window on the Creative Process in a Wild Animal (Katharine Payne) -- Male humpback whales sing long, complex songs during breeding season; in a given population, all the males might sing the same song for a time, but songs will tend to change rapidly; 'optimal mismatch' (a term borrowed from psychology): a song needs to be different enough to attract attention, but not so different as to be ignored or avoided; whalesong seems to change the most at the height of breeding season, probably tied to sexual selection; rhymelike structures appear in whalesong, 'perhaps serving as a mnemonic device in the context of a rapidly changing oral culture.' Biomusicology and Language Evolution Studies (Derek Bickerton) -- We know very little about the origins of language, and even less about the origins of music; in 1866, the Linguistic Society of Paris banned all papers on the subject of language origins, due to surplus of 'pseudoevolutionary speculations'; (even as early as 1000 BC, Pharoah Psamtik tried to discover the origins of language giving two newborns to a deaf shepherd for their upbringing); origins and universals do not necessarily go together; music may not be a natural kind, i.e. perhaps what we call music comprises many different things; Chomsky divided language in to two major kinds, conceptual and computational, both based on a single protolanguage; evolution requires variation and selective pressure, but most scholars tend to emphasize the latter to the detriment of understanding what gives rise to variation; some theories about the origin of language: grooming substitute, keeping track of mates' fidelity, symbolic rituals to create bonds and 'marriage', communal problem-solving and division of labor; 'All contemporary languages are characterized by an extremely robust syntactic structure'; what are the origins of grammar and syntactic structure?  What gave rise to variability? Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Music and Language (Jean Molino) -- Biological evolution is Darwinian; cultural evolution appears to progress in a Lamarckian fashion. Molino draws upon Dawkins's concept of the meme as a unit of information that passes from one brain to another in what we call cultural transmission. The key question for Molino is when did the shift occur from biological evolution? Music and language are not stable enough phenomena to be considered natural kinds: music and language are 'heterogeneous realities' that possess no essence. To investigate the development of music, 'one must abandon "great" music and instead turn to contemporary and primitive dance music, from ritual to disco.' we must examine 'rhythmo-affective semantics': the body, it's movements, and the fundamental emotions that are associated with them. 'Music, language, dance, chant, poetry and pretend play all have a partly common origin.' Paleoneurology and the Biology of Music (Harry Jerison) -- Different animal species developed, through evolution, different kinds of brains, which have different means of processing information and different sensory capacities.  This gives rise to different Umwelten, or perceptual worlds, among animals. The primate brain has many areas specialized for visual information.  In the human brain, there are also specialized areas for language, and even sub-areas (e.g. the area used in learning one's mother tongue, and the different area used for learning a second language). The processing of music in the human brain is unlike that in other animals in that it is highly lateralized, and even more lateralized among professional musicians.  (Language is also highly lateralized in the human brain.) Hominid Brain Evolution and the Origins of Music (Dean Falk) -- PET and fMRI studies have shown that the left hemisphere of the brain (and specifically areas close to language areas)  is involved in processing timing and pitch.  '...imagining music and actually hearing it activate the same neurological substrates.' 'As a generalization, melody and chords appear to be processed holistically by the right hemisphere, whereas analyses involving brief sequences of discrete sounds (e.g. rhythm) depend relatively more on the analytical left hemisphere.  Singing, on the other hand, appears to engage the cortex bilaterally if words are involved, but depends differently on the right hemisphere if they are not.' Men's brains, on average, are more lateralized than women's brains, and this seems to be true specifically in music.  In tests, men prefer to have delivered to their right hemisphere (i.e. via the left ear) the sounds of leading orchestral instruments. '...if we can pinpoint the time by which language originated, we probably know when music did.'  The fossil record (using casts of the cranial cavity) suggests that left-hemisphere-dominant human-like language probably began to evolve about two million years ago, but the development likely was very slow and progressive. Fossil Evidence for the Origin of Speech Sounds (David W.  Frayer and Chris Nicolay) -- The evidence suggests that by about 1.5 million years ago, hominid respiratory and nasal systems were quite like those of modern humans.  These hominid ancestors were probaby capable of singing. New Perpsectives on the Beginnings of Music: Archeological and Musicological Analysis of a Middle Paleolithic Bone "Flute" (Drago Kunej and Ivan Turk) -- The authors describe what they believe to be a flute made during the middle Paleolithic period (50,000 to 35,000 years ago) from a piece of the femur of a cave bear, and speculate as to how it was played and the sounds it made. The "Musilanguage" Model of Music (Steven Brown) -- Brown argues that music and language evolved from a common ancestor, which he calls the 'referential emotive vocalization system.'  'Musilanguage' would have used lexical tone, combinatorial syntax, and expressive phrasing. How Music Fixed "Nonsense" into Significant Formulas: On Rhythm, Repetition, and Meaning (Bruce Richman) -- Richman believes that music and language both have their roots in repeated vocalizations in primate and hominid groups.  Originally, these vocalizations were composed of 'random, emotionally and interactionally driven sequences of syllables, rhythms, and melodies.' These became fixed by constant, interactive repetition and by rhythmic expectancies into stuck-together, memorable, significant somethings.'  The significance arose from social context (e.g. a special event), and from pragmatics (e.g. repeated use). Synchronous Chorusing and Human Origins (Bjorn Merker) -- Our primate and hominid ancestors may have evolved a group chorusing behavior, involving primitive forms of chanting or singing and dancing, as a form of male cooperation in establishing territory and attracting mates.  Females may have selected among competing male choruses. Evolution of Human Music through Sexual Selection (Geoffrey Miller) -- Musical creation was an adaptation that was selected for in our hominid ancestors, as males competed for mates. 'As Darwin emphasized, most complex, creative acoustic displays in nature are outcomes of sexual selection and function as courtship displays to attract sexual partners.' 'Our ancestral hominid-Hendrixes could never say, "OK, our music's good enough, we can stop now," because they were competing with all the hominid-Eric Claptons, hominid-Jerry Garcias, and hominid-John Lennons.'  In other words, a sexual selection arm's race. Simulating the Evolution of Musical Behavior (Peter Todd) -- The author created complex computer programs to simulate the behavior of male song-creators and female mates/critics.  'Our simulations lend support for the role of coevolving songs and directional (surprised-based) preferences in creating and maintaining musical diversity.  Evolution is likely to stagnate unless females choose songs based not just on evolved preferences but also on a desire to be surprised by what they hear.  Loosely speaking, when females are bored by the same old song, males must strive to provide them with something new to ensure their own mating success.' Antecedents of the Temporal Arts (Ellen Dissanayake)-- Music developed out of mother-infant vocalizing, which supports and strengthens bonding.  Imitation is fundamentally important. 'Mother-infant dialogue seems to be the prototype for a kind of fundamental emotional narrative that adult music, dance movement, and poetic language can grow out of, build upon, exemplify, and sustain.  In early interactions, sensitivities to rhythmic and dynamic change are manipulated to coordinate the pair emotionally and express their accord, thereby reinforcing it.' A Neurobiological Role of Music in Social Bonding (Walter Freeman) -- 'The role of trance states was particularly important for breaking down preexisting habits and beliefs.  That meltdown appears to be necessary for personality changes leading to the formation of social groups by cooperative action leading to trust.' Human Processing Predispositions (Sandra Trehub) -- Author cites studies on infants in order to determine whether infants have musical dispositions.  The evidence suggests that there are some universal dispositions present in infants with no musical training. 'In sum, the convergence of empirical findings from our laboratory with cross-cultural evidence and with the admittedly speculative historical record makes an intriguing case for the biological basis of at least some musical principles.' Innate Competencies in Musical Communication (Michel Imberty) -- 'Music, the art of time, works on time in its relation to the intentional conscious and to the unconscious.  It plays on representations and fantasies that are created by experiences of temporal feelings in human life, between continuity and discontinuity, between fusional unity and fragmentations, and between mobility and immobility . . .  Music touches us only through the other . . . Music takes its power in its profoundly social nature, like language, as a vehicle of interiorized representations . . . Music is indeed the symbol of our fundamental relation to time, life, and death.' An Ethnomusicologist Contemplates Universals in Musical Sound and Musical Culture (Bruno Nettl) -- Nettl notes that songs with a short phrase repeated several times , with minor variations, using three or four pitches within a range of a fifth.  This kind of simple music can be found in very different cultures around the world. Necessity of and Problems with a Universal Musicology (Francois-Bernard Mâche)-- Mâche, a composer and ethnomusicologist, believes that the are natural universals in music, even universals that link human and animal 'music'.  Mâché claims that one musical 'type' that manifests itself around the world, in highly different cultural contexts, is pentatonic polyphony over a drone.  Mâché ends by arguing for at least some human musical behavior to be considered in terms of 'gratuitous aesthetic pleasure'.  'The luxurious display of some of the best singers suggests that they go far beyond the signals that would be necessary for keeping a territory or mating. . . . Could we interpret birdsong, and consequently music, as a case of hypertelia? . . . It implies that the whole elaboration of a culture, meaning a collective structure of symbolic imagination, might stem from this lavishness of nature exceeding its limited basic purposes.  Diversity in song may at first have allowed an individual to prevail over a competitor, before gradually overshooting the mark.  In that case the excess would have turned not into a disadvantage but an unexpected pleasure.'

  2. 4 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    This is a collection of essays out of a conference on an attempt to both squeeze the evolution of music back into a Darwinian approach and to ascertain why the hell we have music in the first place. The essays are overall pretty great and rarely stray into the abstruse or po-mo jargon-laden think-wank. The range is wide: from an essay where archaeologists fucking reproduce a 40,000 flute out of a bone fragment found in a cave in Slovenia and play music on the goddamn thing (heaven) to weirder, c This is a collection of essays out of a conference on an attempt to both squeeze the evolution of music back into a Darwinian approach and to ascertain why the hell we have music in the first place. The essays are overall pretty great and rarely stray into the abstruse or po-mo jargon-laden think-wank. The range is wide: from an essay where archaeologists fucking reproduce a 40,000 flute out of a bone fragment found in a cave in Slovenia and play music on the goddamn thing (heaven) to weirder, coffeehouse, black-turtleneckt broody type pieces which are little more than po-mo jargon-laden think-wank. My favorite bits were the first section, which was about convergent evolution of song in birds, whales, and humans (some other damn dirty apes are discussed as well), the flute one is great, and music-as-a-tool-of-sexual-selection because, well, one word: Barry White. Probably not as lay-worthy as you might want it (cue Barry), but probably not too dense for many.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie

    I have read this book in a 'vertical' way in the sense that looked up the topics in which I was interested in. This is why I perfer to have an index in informative books. To me, this book is written in a pleasant and nuanced way, though it made me read less fast. I recommend this - cool! I have read this book in a 'vertical' way in the sense that looked up the topics in which I was interested in. This is why I perfer to have an index in informative books. To me, this book is written in a pleasant and nuanced way, though it made me read less fast. I recommend this - cool!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Innastholiel

    Meanders a bit to much for me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ciro Cibelli

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  7. 5 out of 5

    Diane Moser

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ari

  9. 4 out of 5

    Geoffrey Miller

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gordon

  11. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jichao Wang

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian Boyle

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adam Croom

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    781.1 O696 2000

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kamil Remeš

  17. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

  18. 5 out of 5

    Debra Mathis

  19. 5 out of 5

    Suzzanne Bloom

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  21. 5 out of 5

    John Ellis

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Berger

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ron Tintner

  24. 5 out of 5

    Namrirru

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nugunn Wattanapat

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hadi

  27. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Haighton

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dacoda Nelson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anna Craig

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tomek

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