Evolution & Music

Evolution & Other Species


Levitin (2009) The world in Six Songs.

Chapter 4 - Comfort: or "Before there was prozac, there was you"

Eddie and Victor in the Kitchen at Sambos fighting over "tie a yellow ribbon round the ole oak tree" a song about "my brother"

The lullaby as a comfort song.

Ian Cross of Cambridge University - music comforts mother and child

also Teenage comfort - i.e. 'Losing my religion"

Social comfort - 911 - "God Bless America"

"Amy" and "the dream of the blue turtles"

Joni Mitchell's Blue album -

 David Huron suggests that sad music give a release of prolactin

The music Instinct - Video

9000 year old flutes   Sound & Other early instruments


Peretz & Zatorre (2009)

Chapter 4 - Music, Cognition, culture and evolution
Cross (p.42)

Clearly we seem to have biological roots to music experience, however, what about cultural and evolutionary?

What IS music? what kind of categories doe sit fit?

Music is examined as a cultural praxis (or collection of them).

Geertz took a semiotic (interpretive) approach to anthropology where he held that music could be understood as part of a set of functional (meaning) codes developed by cultures where:
 "man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun"

Various stances on the evolutionary and cultural significance stand, ranging from "Auditory Cheesecake" to others examining music displays as central the meaning-making and cultural bonding


Chapter 5 - Is music an evolutionary adaptation?
Huron (p. 57)

Does music have survival value?

NAPS theory suggests that we adopt behaviours not because they have survival value, but because they activate our dopamine reward system, eg. drug and alcohol use.

other theories suggest that music is an evolutionary vestige

Can one measure the adaptive value of music?

Some evolutionary theories of music involve:

-mate selection
-social cohesion
-group effort
-perceptual development
-conflict reduction
-safe time passing
-transgenerational communication

evidence for these is examined, including sexual selection and genetic, neurological, ethological and archeological evidence

Ancient flutes