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CHAPTER 1:
What Music REALLY Is, Who Makes
It, Where, When, Why
  
1.5  Why Is There Such a Thing as Music?

 
PAGE INDEX
  

1.5.1 Darwinian Evolution and Adaptations (Including Music)

1.5.2 Dawkins’ “Selfish Gene”: Gene’s-eye View of Evolution

1.5.3 Hootin’ and Howlin’ Revisited: Sound as a Signalling Device in Animals

1.5.4 Music as an Adaptation for Mother-infant Communication: We’re All “Preemies” at Birth

1.5.5 Music as an Adaptation for Mother-infant Communication: “Motherese”

1.5.6 Music as an Adaptation for Social Bonding: Survival Through Cooperation

1.5.7 Music as an Adaptation for Social Bonding: Evidence from Studies of Children and Animals

1.5.8 Music as an Adaptation for Social Bonding: Grooming, Troop Size, and Dunbar’s Number

1.5.9 Music as an Adaptation for Social Bonding: Coalition Signalling

1.5.10 Music as an Adaptation Shaped by Sexual Selection: Sex Differences and the Innate Taboo

1.5.11 Music as an Adaptation Shaped by Sexual Selection: Sex Differences vs Race Differences

1.5.12 Music as an Adaptation Shaped by Sexual Selection: Evidence from Studies of Animals

1.5.13 Music as an Adaptation Shaped by Sexual Selection: Differences in Male-Female Cognitive Specializations

1.5.14 Music as an Adaptation Shaped by Sexual Selection: Proportions of Male and Female Musicians

1.5.15 Why Is There Such a Thing as Music? Probably “All of the Above”

 

~ • ~ • ~ • ~


1.5.1

DARWINIAN EVOLUTION AND ADAPTATIONS (INCLUDING MUSIC)

I don’t like nature. It’s big plants eating little plants, small fish being eaten by big fish, big animals eating each other ... It’s like an enormous restaurant.

—WOODY ALLEN (Love and Death)

Many consider Charles Darwin one of the three greatest scientists of all time, in the company of Newton and Einstein. Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace independently came up with the insight now called Darwinian evolution. Darwin wrote a number of landmark books identifying and describing natural selection, sexual selection, and other aspects of evolution.


     Darwinian evolution is the most important theory in all of biology. Voluminous evidence from modern science shows that Darwin got it right, despite having no knowledge of DNA or genes. Darwin discovered that life evolves in distinct lines, with each species on its own individual twig of an ever-widening bush, each species descended from a common ancestor, but destined never to meet. (However, at the bacteria level some evidence indicates “gene-swapping” goes on between unrelated organisms.) Humans did not “descend from apes,” and chimpanzees will never evolve into humans.


     Darwin came under fierce attack for pointing out (correctly, it turns out) that humankind is merely one of millions of species that evolved from earlier life forms. Moreover, nothing creative or directional goes on in evolution. No ultimate goal exists in the evolution of any species. Homo sapiens does not represent the culmination of anything and is not evolving towards anything.


     It’s an interesting paradox that humans, with dazzling cognition and insight about everything from Einsteinian relativity to genetics to artistic expression, are clearly unlike any other species on the planet—and yet humans evolved by exactly the same processes as all other species on the planet and carry the same genes as the humblest of them.


     Darwinian evolution causes the emergence of adaptations such as bipedalism, music, and language in two ways: natural selection and sexual selection.


 

1.  How Natural Selection Works


     All living things compete to survive and pass on their genes. In a given species, each individual differs slightly from all the other individuals. Therefore, in the prevailing environmental conditions, the ability to survive and procreate varies from individual to individual. This variability means some individuals thrive better than others under the same environmental conditions. Those that do best—the winners in the evolutionary struggle for resources and opportunities to reproduce—are thus “naturally selected” to pass on their genes to the next generation. Those individuals that do not fare well in the same environment do not pass on their genes.


 

2.  How Sexual Selection Works


     Although some species do not reproduce sexually, most do. Members of species that reproduce sexually compete with each other to mate with individuals of the opposite sex. Individuals of both sexes vary in their attractiveness and availability as potential mates. This variability means some individuals are more successful than others in mating and procreating, and are thus “sexually selected” to pass on their genes. Those individuals that fail to mate do not pass on their genes.


     Woody Allen’s observation that the world is an enormous, chaotic restaurant is bang on. All animals, including humans, survive and evolve by eating plants or other animals or both. Species evolve defences to keep from getting eaten. Other species evolve ways to get around those defences, which triggers the evolution of more elaborate defences, and so on—an evolutionary arms race. “Nature, red in tooth and claw,” as Tennyson put it.


 

The Naturalistic Fallacy

 

The naturalistic fallacy goes like this: whatever happens in the natural world, well, that’s the way it ought to be.


The problem is, it doesn’t follow logically that, just because something happens in nature, it’s a Good Thing—that its moral value is somehow asserted. Belief that “natural = good” is called the naturalistic fallacy. This fallacy led to social Darwinism, discussed earlier.


Nature is utterly mindless and blindly indifferent. Heart defects are natural. So is cancer. So is malaria. Nature is by far the world’s greatest bioterrorist.


We humans have “natural” inclinations to lash out violently against those we perceive as doing us harm. Fortunately, humans also have natural propensities for resolving conflict, helping each other, and overriding impulses that could hurt us in the long run. Our evolved moral sense enables us to get along with each other (more or less).


Scientists, lawyers, politicians and others spend their days finding ways to overcome or defeat the horrors of dog-eat-dog nature:

 

        Scientists try to come up with vaccines and medicines to counteract the effects of natural pathogens.

 

        Surgeons try to repair congenital heart problems and any number of other natural conditions.

 

        Politicians (in theory) pass laws to help us in our struggle to survive and to protect us from our natural impulses to harm or exploit each other; police forces try (in theory) to enforce those laws.

 

        Teachers pass on information that enables us to acquire what we need to survive.


Humans’ evolved empathy and moral sense are adaptations that enable most of us to rise above utterly selfish, brutish behaviour. By behaving humanely, humans defy nature.


Non-human animals such as lions, eagles, and bears have no ethical sense, and behave with breathtaking selfishness, callousness, and savagery towards all but their immediate kin. Normal human behaviour is saintly by comparison. Most people behave “humanely” most of the time, not just towards family and friends, but also towards perfect strangers and animals.


If humans had not evolved an ethical sense, Homo sapiens likely would have died out long ago. Constant warfare, natural pathogens, predators and other natural phenomena would have done in the human species by now. (Of course, darker human impulses of those with access to massive technology-based power may one day win out and lead to our quick extinction.)



     Humans evolved the ultimate weapon in the evolutionary arms race: intelligence. We have the ability, through language, to share and pool survival-related information and pass it on to future generations through culture. This has allowed humans to get around most defences of most other organisms (although microorganisms still kill millions of our species). We can kill predators such as lions and bears that would easily be able to kill us if we did not have the intelligence to make and use weapons.


     For Darwinian evolution by natural selection or sexual selection to proceed, several conditions must obtain:

 

     1.  Selection: Selective pressure must exist. Species evolve to fit imposed environmental conditions (survival of the fittest).

 

     2.  Variation: Genetic variability must exist. Chance mutations and errors in gene replication cause genetic variability to be present among the individuals of a population.

 

     3.  Heredity: Replication must occur in order to pass on genetic mutations to future generations.


     The replicating entities are genes. Living things do not replicate. Only their genes replicate through their offspring.


     Inherited traits that enhance the ability of future replicating entities to replicate are the adaptations. For an adaptation such as music to continue in future generations, it must confer either naturally-selected survival benefits or sexually-selected reproductive benefits (or both). Music probably confers survival benefits in infancy and reproductive benefits later in life.



1.5.2

DAWKINS’ “SELFISH GENE”: GENE’S EYE VIEW OF EVOLUTION

... the fundamental unit of selection, and therefore of self-interest, is not the species, nor the group, nor even, strictly, the individual. It is the gene, the unit of heredity.

—RICHARD DAWKINS

E. O. Wilson pointed out decades ago that evolution is really all about gene preservation and replication. This “gene’s-eye view” of natural and sexual selection is usually referred to as “selfish gene” theory, after the book, The Selfish Gene, by the British zoologist, Richard Dawkins. Selfish gene theory has become the dominant framework used in explaining adaptations and adaptive behaviour in evolutionary biology and psychology.


     “Selfish gene” metaphorically explains how genes become successful by behaving in a pitiless, “selfish” way. Of course genes don’t “think” and “act”—they’re blind, deaf, mute chemicals that build living organisms. If the organism dies before the gene it hosts successfully replicates, the gene fails. If the organism lives long enough to replicate, then the gene it hosts succeeds in continuing on to another generation. Genes, then—not bodies—are the actual units of biological selection and replication. The individuals that genes construct (plants, animals, bacteria, etc.) serve only as vehicles to pass on genes.


     Genes create adaptations—units of biological function that have survival or reproductive benefits for the individual. Adaptations such as music and language actually benefit the gene, because the gene replicates, not the body. In that sense, genes behave “selfishly.” But that does not necessarily mean the organisms the genes create behave utterly selfishly. It’s often to the advantage of genes to select for unselfishness as a behavioural trait in the organisms they build. For example:

 

        Parents behave unselfishly towards their own children, who carry their parents’ genes.

 

        Children benefit from their parents’ caring, nurturing, unselfish behaviour by surviving to reproductive age, still carrying their parents' genes.

 

        Those children pass on their parents’ genes to yet another generation.


     Organisms eventually die, but the genes they once carried keep replicating. Most humans and all non-human animals have no idea that genes made them, and that if they have offspring, they will have successfully served as vehicles for gene replication. It’s important to keep in mind that genes are not living things. They are just strands of DNA—a decidedly non-living molecule. Humans are neither cold, calculating “gene machines” nor “blank slates,” programmed by the social environment.


     In the discussions coming up about why music evolved in humans, keep in mind how adaptations evolve in light of selfish gene theory. Genes build adaptations of the body and brain that enable humans to successfully survive, reproduce, and pass on copies of ... genes.


 

1.5.3

HOOTIN’ AND HOWLIN’ REVISITED: SOUND AS A SIGNALLING DEVICE IN ANIMALS

 

Why did animals evolve the use of sound in the first place?


     As a signalling device for warning and for mate-attraction.


     To be a successful adaptation, the signal must not only benefit the individual(s) being signalled; it must also benefit the signaller (selfish genes at work).

 

        A signal used as a threat warns a competitor to back off, or face a potentially injurious (or lethal) fight.

 

        A signal use as a warning advises close kin (carrying the signaller’s genes) of a nearby predator.

 

        A contact signal keeps a group together; safety in numbers.

 

        A courtship signal in humans takes the form of a display of musical ability, signalling mental fitness.


     Animals use other signalling devices as well: smell and sight. But sound has several advantages:

 

        Sound works when the signaller and receiver are far apart, even though they can see each other.

 

        Sound works when the signaller and receiver cannot see each other because it’s too dark or because objects such as bushes or rocks stand between them.

 

        Sound can carry messages that vary with the signaller’s call.


     Our Homo sapiens ancestors, with incredibly effective sound-based signalling and communication adaptations we call music and language, out-survived all other hominid species. Evolutionary biologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and musicologists have come up with several well-supported hypotheses about selective pressures that gave rise to the human adaptation for music. These explanations do not mutually exclude each other. Following are some of the main ones.


 

1.5.4

MUSIC AS AN ADAPTATION FOR MOTHER-INFANT COMMUNICATION: WE’RE ALL “PREEMIES AT BIRTH

 

Selective pressure for group living favoured a large brain size (encephalation) and also two-legged walking and running (bipedalism). In hominid females, bipedalism narrowed the birth canal substantially. This placed an upper limit on the size of a newborn’s head that could squeeze through the birth canal.


     It also place an upper limit on gestation length. In the human species, babies are actually born significantly prematurely. We’re all “preemies.” As a result, at birth, human babies are completely helpless, and remain so for a significant length of time.


     Meanwhile, if a pre-linguistic human infant has any hope of surviving, it needs some way to continually communicate its many and constant needs with its mother. And the mother needs a way of knowing for certain that she is meeting those needs successfully. Since newborns do not have language, meaningful mother-infant communication must take other forms.

 


1.5.5

MUSIC AS AN ADAPTATION FOR MOTHER-INFANT COMMUNICATION: “MOTHERESE

 

According to the mother-infant communication hypothesis of the distinguished scholar Ellen Dissanayake, selective pressure gave rise to music as a vocal and rhythmic communication and coordination system between mothers and pre-linguistic infants. This enabled better maternal care over a longer period of time, and better survival rates of infants into childhood and adulthood.


     Pre-linguistic infants have and use musical abilities at birth. So do handicapped children and adults born without any capacity to learn language.


     Worldwide, mothers vocalize with their infants in a particular, distinctive style called “motherese.” Mothers do not learn motherese culturally—they’re born with it, evidence that selective pressure evolved the brain circuitry to do this.


     Motherese has a number of clearly musical characteristics:

 

        Melodic (variably pitched)

 

        Repetitive

 

        Grouped in phrases of 3 to 4 seconds, like the phrase groupings of poetry and music found in every culture.


     As well, mothers communicate with infants via rhythmic, rocking motions, possibly a precursor to dancing. Both vocalization and rocking, rhythmic motions are hallmarks of music as a temporal art.


 

Myth of the “Mozart Effect”

 

“Listening to Mozart makes you smarter,” was the claim. The “Mozart effect” became a fad.


The governors of a couple of American states requested the issuing of Mozart CDs to all new mothers. One entrepreneur cashed in on the craze with a book and series of recordings.


It started in the early 90's when a team of researchers published findings that indicated spatial and temporal abilities improved in subjects after passive exposure to music composed by Mozart. Other researchers could not replicate the findings. Further research found that the so-called Mozart effect had nothing to do with Mozart’s music, but could be replicated with any stimulus of the subject’s preference (e.g., a narrated story, or some other music).


However, if a child begins creating and learning music actively at a young age, the brain responds by allocating more neural matter to musical processing than the child would have if he or she did not actively study and learn music. As well, research indicates that children from inner-city backgrounds who get ongoing, long-term musical instruction through projects such as MusicLink (http://www.musiclinkfoundation.org/) do much better than their disadvantaged circumstances would otherwise predict.



     Initially, an infant, being a preemie, has little capacity to respond to motherese. After a couple of months, the infant begins to vocalize positively, smile, and respond positively to rhythmic interaction. A mother-infant feedback loop of emotional communication develops.


     Infant-to-mother emotional communication via musical code sends messages of hunger, frustration, distress. And also positive communication: contentment, happiness. Mothers know how to decode the messages, and also how to communicate back to the infant in the same non-verbal, emotional, musical way. This two-way non-verbal communication strongly reinforces mother-infant bonding.


     Neither infant nor mother need to learn how to communicate emotionally with each other using this “musical” system. It’s inborn in both.


     The presence of the infant probably changes the mother’s emotional state. Motherese successfully engages the attention of the infant, which begins to respond after several weeks and provides the mother with vital feedback on the infant’s survival needs.


     Mothers in every culture communicate to their pre-linguistic babies in the same specific way: raised pitch level, distinctive pitch contours, repetitive patterns, rhythmic patterns. These elements differ markedly from normal adult-to-adult conversation.


     In all cultures:

 

        Mothers communicate with infants using motherese, and, after a couple of months, infants use the same mechanism to communicate back.

 

        Infants can mimic their mothers’ singing—pitch and melodic contour—early in life, as young as two months of age.

 

        Infants pay more attention to female vocalizing than to male vocalizing.

 

        Infants respond more attentively when mothers sing than when mothers speak.

 

        The lullaby as a mother-to-infant song form takes on the same characteristics.

 

        Songs for infants and small children constitute a distinct genre of music.


     Taken together, all of these characteristics suggest that maternal singing is adaptive. The origin of the music-emotion linkage in adult humans could well be motherese, the music of mother-infant emotional communication of the infant’s survival state.

 


Instinctive Smiling and Laughing

 

Babies who are born both deaf and blind begin smiling at the same period of their development as babies born with normal hearing and sight. A blind infant would not smile (make a facial signal that communicates happiness or contentment to the mother) if smiling were not inborn.


Later in life humans continue to communicate happiness to others by smiling and laughing. Humans laugh 30 times more often in the company of other people than when alone.


Laughter is involuntary, indicating its adaptive nature. And, like other expressions of emotion, laughter is contagious.



     In adult humans, competently composed music triggers emotion. Since emotional circuits are essential for survival, people find themselves drawn to music that evokes strong emotions. (Chapter 9 goes into some detail on music and emotion.)


     Most songwriters have no clue how to create memorable music because musical notes, unlike the words of a language, have no referential meaning.


     Most popular music takes the form of songs with words instead of purely instrumental music. It’s likely that songwriters, aware to some extent of their inability (due to lack of knowledge) to create emotionally powerful instrumental music, rely on lyrics to help deliver some kind of emotional punch. Songwriters have a better intuitive grasp of the emotional information words carry than they have of the emotional information musical elements such as intervals carry.



1.5.6

MUSIC AS AN ADAPTATION FOR SOCIAL BONDING: SURVIVAL THROUGH COOPERATION

Music, perhaps, provides a unique mnemonic framework within which humans can express, by the temporal organization of sound and gesture, the structure of their knowledge and of social relations. Songs and rhythmically organized poems and sayings form the major repository of knowledge in non-literate cultures. This seems to be because such organized sequences are much easier to remember than the type of prose which literate societies use in books.

—JOHN SLOBODA

To transfer knowledge across generations, you need human societies. But to get to the point of having human societies, you need group bonding and socialization. That’s why music, dance, and language had to predate the formation of cohesive societies, which only emerged in the past few thousand years.


     Language and music make it possible for individuals to bond into large, cooperative groups. Extensive research findings strongly indicate music promotes and coordinates group bonding, cooperation, and social cohesion:

 

        Everybody’s a performer. In most hunter-gatherer societies, everyone participates in music—no one’s an audience member. As well, dancing nearly always accompanies music making.

 

        Group emotional arousal. Music causes a state of general emotional arousal in all the members of a group simultaneously. So music has always served well in situations involving more than one person and ritual: marriages, funerals, groups marching, religious ceremonies.

 

        Solidarity through emotional synchrony. Being able to keep a steady beat and sing to it would increase evolutionary fitness by enabling larger and larger social groups to participate as a single, coordinated entity, increasing solidarity and camaraderie through emotional synchrony. Music has the effect of imposing order and structure on time. At an event featuring music, everyone experiences the same feeling at the same time. Some examples in various cultures today:

 

                -    Crowd singing at popular music concerts

 

                -    Congregational hymn singing

 

                -    Singing of solidarity songs on picket lines

 

                -    Karaoke singing

 

                -    “Happy Birthday,” sung at social gatherings millions of times a year

 

                -    Campfire singing (except by outlaws on the lam)

 

                -    National anthem singing

 

                -    Crowd singing at sports events such as British football matches and ice hockey games


 

The Equestrian Sport of Ice Hockey

 

Spectators at professional ice hockey games heartily sing the national anthem at the outset of every game. And throughout the game, they sing various “fight” songs to encourage the home team.


If you live in a tropical country such as Brazil or Nigeria, you may not have heard of the sport of ice hockey. It’s a team sport played in northern countries such as Canada and Sweden. Ice hockey resembles the game of polo, except that it’s played on a large ice surface called a “hockey rink.” The players’ horses are fitted with “skates”—long sharp blades welded to the bottoms of the horses’ iron shoes. The horses are specially trained to skate rapidly and gracefully around the hockey rink.


Each team has six riders: three forwards, two defense riders, and one goalkeeper. Instead of a long-handled polo mallet, each rider carries a long wooden stick with a blade at the end, called a “hockey stick.” The object of the game is to bat a small rubber disk, called a “puck” into the other team’s net, scoring a goal.


In ice hockey, riders frequently jostle each other (called “body checking”), causing players to fall from their horses. Often, the fall kills the player outright because the ice surface is rock hard. A player who survives a fall frequently does not make it off the rink fast enough and falls victim to thousands of pounds of horseflesh skating over him or her.


The average professional ice hockey player earns several million dollars a year. But the average playing career doesn’t last more than a year or two, due to injury or death.


The rock group, the Doors, wrote and recorded a now-classic song about the equestrian sport of ice hockey, called “Riders on the Storm.”



     Popular music charts also reflect group participation in music. When not listening to the same hit songs en masse at concerts, people listen to the same songs at the same time on radio, television, webcasts, etc. Masses of young people purchase the same songs during the time those songs ride high on the charts. Rather than listen to a recording, people tend to prefer to go out and get a fix of the same music performed live—to experience the primal pleasure of identifying with, and entraining with, the musicians (and dancers). It’s akin to the pleasure of watching professional athletes.


     Our savannah-dwelling hominid ancestors walked on two feet but did not stand very tall, and had no claws or fangs. Easy meals for lethal predators. So, to protect themselves against strong, fast predators, and to successfully hunt game, hominids had to become sophisticated in group-living and cooperation. Human beings use each other as tools in the survival game. Naturally-selected traits arise in response to environmental pressure, which includes ourselves. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, our fellow humans were an integral part of our environment, just as they are today. So we have evolved many brain adaptations that enable us to interact successfully with each other.


     The expansion and evolution of human social structure drove the evolution of many mental tools for social behaviour (such as music and language). The cerebral cortex and the skull, therefore, kept getting bigger and bigger: encephalation. Humans have an encephalation factor of 7, meaning our brains are 7 times larger than would be expected for an animal of our size. Dolphins and porpoises are next, at 4 to 5, with chimpanzees and gorillas at 2.5. The one thing that animals with high encephalation factors have in common is that they’re all highly social.



1.5.7

MUSIC AS AN ADAPTATION FOR SOCIAL BONDING: EVIDENCE FROM STUDIES OF CHILDREN AND ANIMALS

 

Usually, people make music in groups. Children show a pronounced drive to repeat sound elements in rhythmic synchrony. This ensures involvement and belonging with the group. (The same applies to conversation. One of the major ties that binds humans in groups is plain, ordinary talking.)


     Both music and language probably have a common origin in long sequences of primate vocalizations in which individuals tried to repeat or match each other’s calls. These became formulaic phrases. You can hear echos of this phenomenon in the song-like patter of auctioneers, or in universal children’s chants such as “Ring Around The Rosie."


     Early hominid vocal music would have consisted of chorusing (and, later, drumming accompaniment). Various animal species exhibit chorusing and duetting:

 

        Gibbons do a lot of duetting, mainly in mated pairs. Gibbon songs show clear coordination.

 

        Chimpanzees have distinctive pant-hoot calls, but don’t show much coordinated vocalizing. When an individual launches into a pant-hoot, another will sometimes respond.

 

        Gelada monkeys, like humans, sometimes find themselves in socially stressful situations that result in conflict. They spend large amounts of time and energy engaging in friendly vocalizing (“vocal grooming”) in order to cultivate and continue relationships. This tends to dispel conflict to some degree.

 

        Birds sing in groups (the dawn chorus, for example), but their singing is not coordinated or synchronized the way human group singing is. The exception is duetting. Male and female songbirds of many species, especially tropical birds, sing in duets. These monogamous pair-bonded birds sing to advertise their claim to a territory, and possibly to maintain their monogamous relationship.



1.5.8

MUSIC AS AN ADAPTATION FOR SOCIAL BONDING: GROOMING, TROOP SIZE, AND DUNBAR’S NUMBER

 

Primates and other animals often live in groups or “troops” for protection against predators. As social groupings increase in size and complexity, competitors within the aggregation turn on each other. So cliques form for intra-group protection.


     The hypothesis of British anthropologist and evolutionary biologist Robin Dunbar is that, in primates other than humans, alliances hold together because members groom each other. Not because everybody in the group is bug-infested. Because grooming feels good. (Same reason humans like massages.)


     Those who groom each other also defend each other when conflicts arise. Grooming takes a lot of time and energy, so primate troops that physically groom each other can’t grow beyond a certain size, 50 individuals, tops.


     Humans, on the other hand, given sufficient social pressure, can track as many as 150 individuals socially (widely known in anthropology as Dunbar’s number, after Dunbar’s calculations, based on much evidence). So the question is, how come humans can keep track of so many more fellow humans than, say, chimps can of fellow chimps?


     According to Dunbar, because language evolved as a substitute for physical grooming. Language enables maintenance of contact and friendships among many more individuals than would be possible by physical grooming. But it takes a lot of brain power to keep track of so many social relationships. So natural selection came up with some sophisticated brain-based adaptations, especially language. In the grooming-substitute hypothesis, the large human cortex evolved in response to the selective pressure of ever-increasing “symbolic grooming” (language and related adaptations). As other researchers have pointed out, this would especially apply to child rearing in culturally complex environment, and would include the evolution of music.


     Language and music probably have a common origin, as discussed previously. If selective pressure of ever-increasing social structure and complexity drove encephalation, then language and music were probably the main specific adaptations, language for symbolic (referential) communication, music for emotional communication.


     Even language has its limits with respect to social interaction. Typically, if four or fewer people are engaged in a conversation, all may participate meaningfully. However, once the group grows to five or six or more, it splits into separate smaller conversational sub-groupings—even though all five or six individuals are physically close together.


     This may help explain why popular music groups tend to lose cohesion (musically and socially) as membership increases beyond three or four musicians.



1.5.9

MUSIC AS AN ADAPTATION FOR SOCIAL BONDING: COALITION SIGNALLING

 

Vervet monkeys produce calls that communicate both referential and emotional meaning. These calls warn their kin of an approaching predator (emotional meaning—fear). Each type of call specifies a different type of predator (referential meaning—snake, eagle, etc.). The vervets react to each type of call with a different escape pattern, depending on the predator indicated in the call.


     In humans and in non-human animals, the auditory system connects directly to regions of the brain that control muscles. If you hear something unusual, your body can automatically react quickly. When somebody sneaks up behind you and yells “Boo!”, you jump instantly, without a moment’s thought.


     Music and motor control also go together, as evidenced in dancing, clapping along to a beat, head nodding, and so on. How might our rhythmic and entrainment skills have arisen?


     Possibly through coalition signalling.


     As selfish gene theory predicts, we humans, like other animals, tend to favour those who carry our genes or those whose genes we carry—our close kin, in other words. Especially our progeny. But humans also have the unique ability to form many friendships and alliances with individuals in whom we have no kinship investment whatever. Coalitions.


     Music may have evolved as a mechanism to synchronize the mood of all the members of a coalition, to prepare everybody, regardless of kinship status, to act as a group. Motor activities that have a strong rhythmic aspect, such as walking and running, may have become ritualized in body movements such as group dancing.


     The biologists Edward Hagan and Gregory Bryant have provided experimental evidence supporting the hypothesis that music and dancing in groups evolved initially as a coalition signalling system—a way of communicating to others the competence or “quality” of a group. Coalition signalling would likely have evolved from territorial defence signalling, common in other primates.


     Coordinated emotional expression of a group amplifies coordinated action. Groups that can successfully demonstrate coordinated solidarity show strength and intimidate would-be attackers. This is why riot police form into coordinated phalanxes, march rhythmically, and beat their shields in time.


     Before language evolved, our increasingly social hominid ancestors would have needed some mechanism of identifying, among non-kin, whether all or some of an aggregation of other individuals actually constituted a group, a clique with a purpose. Coalition signalling would help explain the origin of human abilities to identify and evaluate the membership and purpose of a group, and whether or not it would be mutually beneficial to become a member.



1.5.10

MUSIC AS AN ADAPTATION SHAPED BY SEXUAL SELECTION: SEX DIFFERENCES AND THE INNATE TABOO

 

People looking to justify socially unacceptable behaviour sometimes cite evolutionary theory on the biological differences between men and women.

 

“Your honour, my client’s genetic inheritance as a male human compelled him to get roarin’ drunk and commit armed robberies to get money to buy a guitar so that he could impress his sweetheart with his original songs about good-hearted women in love with good-timin’ men. So all charges oughta be dropped.”


     Evolutionary theory does not provide justifications or excuses. Only explanations. Nature has nothing to do with good or evil; it unfolds with utter indifference. Anyone of either sex has the ability to override natural propensities, as discussed earlier. Humans have free will.


     Both males and females have music and language capabilities, but this is not the case for all traits. Arnold Schwarzenegger and all other men carry genes for a uterus, but these genes don’t express themselves in males.


     Yet, if males and females have the same musical capabilities, why are there so many more male musicians than female musicians in every society globally? How could sex differences be implicated?


     For many people, even broaching the subject of sex-based behavioural propensities constitutes a strict taboo. If tangible, empirically verifiable evidence indicates something is true and significant, then declaring the subject off limits for discussion, instead of dealing with reality, amounts to odious Talibanism.


     No place for that taboo here. The next few sections discuss sexual selection and music.


 

The Hillary Clinton Philandering Gene Research Foundation

 

Thanks to common descent, humans share many of the same genes with numerous other animals. Maybe that’s why some animals exhibit human-like behaviour.


Such as philandering.


Take the humble vole, a tiny furry mouse-like critter. In one species, the meadow vole, the male gets around like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (reported to have fathered some 75 children). But the male of a closely-related species, the prairie vole, typically settles down with one good woman for life. Just like in certain wholesome country songs where things turn out better than they do in certain George Jones songs.


Scientists in Atlanta decided to see what would happen if they transferred a specific gene, suspected to influence philandering behaviour, from the prairie vole to the meadow vole. Sure enough, the investigators found that, by manipulating the expression of a single gene, they could make promiscuous male meadow voles behave like faithful prairie voles.


Since humans have the same gene, could a similar injection be developed to change the philandering behaviour of human males? Send your donation to the Hillary Clinton Philandering Gene Research Foundation..




1.5.11

MUSIC AS AN ADAPTATION SHAPED BY SEXUAL SELECTION: SEX DIFFERENCES VS RACE DIFFERENCES

 

And another thing. Those who would damn any discussion of sex-based behavioural differences also tend to discourage and discredit such discussion by equating it with advocacy of race-based behavioural differences—for which no credible evidence exists. The clear implication is that, if you’re going to give credence to sex-based differences, then you’ll also give credence to race-based differences. And who knows what else. So you’re promoting sexism and racism. So goes the smear.


     The truth is, sex differences that affect behaviour have been a fact of life in all mammal species for more than 200 million years. In humans, strong evidence indicates evolved sex differences apply as much to the brain and behaviour as to anatomy and functioning from the neck down.


     Unlike sex, the concept of “race” has no social value. It poisons social relations. The races humans identify today do not differ significantly from each other genetically. Unlike the sexes, not a single race, however defined (which isn’t clear), is represented in significant numbers in every culture globally. There is no “race” gene.


     DNA and human genome studies indicate all humans are descended from a small group that left Africa perhaps 100,000 years ago. All of our ancestors had dark skin. All of today’s so-called races, from blue-eyed blond Scandinavians to Australian aborigines are descended from that one small group of Africans.


     Not nearly enough time has elapsed for meaningful adaptations to have occurred that would differentiate one “racial” group from another with respect to mental functioning. Selective pressure that leads to behaviour-modifying adaptations has nothing to do with skin color.


     Obviously some adaptations in humans have occurred in the past 100,000 years in response to selective pressure. These adaptations show up in traits such as eye color, skin color, facial features, etc. Superficial features of this nature—variable characteristics of external body parts—reflect selective pressure to adapt to conditions of regional physical environments.


     Clearly, the highly visible traits that identify racial differences, which neo-Nazis and other such loonies try to spin into “scientific proof” of their nonsensical doctrines, have nothing to do with “superiority” or “inferiority” of human intelligence or character.


     In any case, so much intermarriage takes place across racial boundaries that the concept of “racial purity” has little meaning. For example, research indicates some 30% of African Americans have at least one “white” ancestor.


     For that matter, you only need to go back a little more than 30 generations (about 700 years, at 20 years per generation) before you discover that the number of your ancestors exceeds today’s global population. In other words, literally everybody alive today is related to everybody else.

 


In the Blood? Not Bloody Likely

 

The age-old mistaken belief that human blood possesses some special power beyond its biological function has not faded away, even in countries with high educational standards.



“Bloodline


The concept of “bloodline”—holy bloodline, ancestral bloodline—has no basis in reality. Heredity has nothing to do with blood. It’s all about genes.


At the level of DNA, every generation gets “diluted” by a factor of one-half. You have only 50% of the DNA of each of your parents, 25% of the DNA of each of your grandparents, and so on. If you could trace your family roots back, say, 200 years (10 generations), you would find that the contribution to your genetic make-up by any of your ancestors from only 10 generations back would amount to a less than 1/10th of 1%. So much for claims about the significance of “royal bloodlines” in the world’s monarchies.



Blood Type


Millions of people in Asia believe that blood type affects human behaviour. Believers even make important life decisions based on the “psychology” of blood type, such as deciding whom to befriend, hire, or date. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever supporting the daft notion of “blood type personalities.”


In countries such as Japan and South Korea, blood type believers who consider themselves to have “acceptable” blood types abuse and discriminate against those who have “unacceptable” blood types. The irrationality and harm of such discrimination ranks with that of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia.



     There is evidence that fear of people who don’t look like us has an evolutionary basis. In Palaeolithic times, our hominid ancestors, living in large groups for survival purposes, perceived outsiders as threatening. They probably were. Research findings indicate modern humans appear to have retained this inclination of distrust and fear. The evidence points to a biologically-based propensity in all humans to discriminate against those “not like us” by virtue of everything from skin color to sexual orientation to religion. However, as discussed earlier, humans have the ability to override such instincts, and many of us do, at least some of the time.


     Now, continuing with music and sex differences . . .



1.5.12

MUSIC AS AN ADAPTATION SHAPED BY SEXUAL SELECTION: EVIDENCE FROM STUDIES OF ANIMALS

 

Darwin noted that in many species of birds and mammals, males vocalize (“sing”) and females don’t—or not nearly as much. Moreover, male vocalization occurs mainly in breeding season. The best singers have the best mating success. This is a form of sexual selection. The same sexual selective pressure gave rise to the capacity for music in humans.


     There are more than 9,000 species of birds, of which about 4,000 sing. In birds, songs evolved to attract mates or to repel rivals for mates. Sexual selection in birds results in females choosing males with the most elaborate and varied repertoires of songs. Once the female and male have set up house, the male stops singing (sadly). Unless, for some reason, the male loses his mate. Then he goes nuts with singing again (hurrah!).


     Male humpback whales sing competitively to attract females. Humpback whales even seem to improvise, like jazz musicians. They sing extended pieces lasting up to half an hour, anytime female humpbacks are in the neighbourhood—not only during mating season.


     To be a sexually selected adaptation, music would have to confer reproductive benefits. According to the sexual selection hypothesis, music arose as a courtship display, evident in birdsong, for example. Most animals only ever produce calls during breeding season: birds, frogs, toads, insects, and many other species. And it’s almost always males vocalizing to attract females.


     Synchronous chorusing (which is not the same as entrainment) in non-human animals may have been the precursor to human entrainment ability. Male synchronous chorusing during mating season is found in some species of frogs and insects. It’s automatic and requires no cooperation among individuals. Human synchronous music-making, by contrast, is deliberate and requires true cooperation.


     Isometric time-keeping and entrainment may have evolved for the same reason as music-making evolved in other species—to attract mates. Rhythmic singing and dancing would facilitate sexual selection: males display and females choose. The most co-ordinated and talented vocalists and dancers would become targets of female selection.


     The capacity to do music originated with primitive calls in early hominids and evolved to the point where, today, people in all cultures create extraordinarily sophisticated music. This mode of evolutionary adaptation indicates a sexually selected arms race between, as the evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller puts it, “unfulfillable sexual demands and irresistible sexual displays.”    The great British geneticist and statistician, R. A. Fisher, developed the theory of “runaway sexual selection” to describe how this happens. He cited the peacock’s fan as a classic example. It’s a flashy trait that signals a high-functioning male.

 

        Peacocks display big showy tails and peahens select the peacock with the biggest, showiest tail to mate with. The peacock’s tail indicates the male’s more-than-adequate survival resources, and, therefore, reproductive fitness.

 

        Their offspring have genes that ensure continuance of the process, creating a positive-feedback loop. (NOTE: Both sexes carry the “big showy tail” trait, but the trait is only expressed in males.)

 

        Eventually, the peacock’s tail becomes a handicap instead of a benefit, and the loop gets interrupted.


     In humans, musicianship requires a large, highly-functioning brain. Males who display musical skills signal to females that the signaller would make a high quality mate, a mate with a comparatively creative, high-functioning brain. A mate who could make life creative and interesting year after year. Experimental evidence on music preferences indicates that women prefer men who have the ability to surprise them with new songs—to keep them from getting bored with the same old tune. Homo sapiens is a neophilic species: we just love novelty. It’s what fuels the entertainment industry.


     Today, in humans, the most common theme of songs is romantic love. Geoffrey Miller, one of today’s leading champions of Darwin’s sexual selection theory as the primary driver of the evolution of music in humans, notes that:

As a tool for activating specific conceptual thoughts in other people’s heads, music is very bad and language is very good. As a tool for activating certain emotional states, however, music is much better than language. Combining the two in lyrical music such as love songs is best of all as a courtship display.

     Musical productivity in males drops off significantly after marriage.


     Only about 3% of mammals are monogamous (compared with 90% of birds). In mammal species that are monogamous, empirical evidence indicates that vocal duetting serves to strengthen pair-bonds. Female gibbons, for example, produce “great calls,” to which male gibbons then respond. Male and female bonobos also sing, and are monogamous.


     Moreover, the various monogamous primate species that duet are not closely related biologically, which means duetting and monogamy evolved several times, independently (convergence). This indicates that male-female duetting and monogamy go hand and hand. Isn’t that sweet? If you want to keep your spouse around, all you have to do is duet with him or her. Like Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. Or Tammy Wynette and George Jones (oops!).


 

“Goodbye to Love”: The Bonobo’s Song

 

In the evolutionary arms race, the human brain has become the ultimate weapon. Humans can and do use cognitive powers to smash the defences of practically all species, which cannot evolve counter-defences against humans fast enough. Consequently, wherever humans show up, species become extinct.


So it is, alas, with the peace-loving bonobo, also known as the pygmy chimp, or jungle hippie. Wild bonobos live only in the Congo. When conflict arises within a group of bonobos, they react by having sex. Lots and lots of sex, including non-vanilla sex. They’re famous for it. Unlike chimpanzees, bonobos almost never fight or kill. All they seek is peace, love (i.e., sex), and happiness.


Humans routinely hunt bonobos and eat them. Bushmeat.


Today, the bonobo population has dwindled to a mere few thousand in the wild (from perhaps 100,000 in 1980). If humans succeed in wiping out the bonobo, the jungle hippie will have the distinction of being the first great ape to suffer the fate of the passenger pigeon.

 



1.5.13

MUSIC AS AN ADAPTATION SHAPED BY SEXUAL SELECTION: DIFFERENCES IN MALE-FEMALE COGNITIVE SPECIALIZATIONS

 

Over millions of years of evolution, male and female hominids have experienced different selective pressures, resulting in sex differences in behaviour, interests, and preferences.


     Although men and women are equally intelligent, male and female brains are wired differently. Males and females are also on different drugs, males on androgens and females on estrogens.


     Empirical evidence of male-female cognitive differences contradicts the dogma that cultural and social influences account for all differences in behaviour, skills, and predispositions by sex. Contrary to wishful thinking and political correctness, differences in male-female preferences are hardwired from day one of life. For example, the stereotype that small boys prefer to play with trucks and mechanical objects whereas small girls prefer to play with dolls happens to be true. The great majority of female children, given the choice, select dolls over trucks; male children select trucks—long before they even know what sex they are.


     This also occurs in our close primate relatives. For example, young vervet monkeys have no concept of “boy-appropriate” or “girl-appropriate” toys. Yet, given a selection of toys, they show the same stereotypical differences in preferred toy choice by sex as human children show.


     Some well-documented evolved human female predispositions, skills, and interests include:

 

        Verbal communication

        Non-verbal communication (e. g., facial expression)

        Empathizing

        People-reading and social interaction

        Identification of objects

        Interest in habitat

        Nurturing

        Mathematical calculation

        Indirect, relational aggression


     Evolved human male predispositions, skills, and interests include:

 

        Tracking moving objects

        Spatial cognition

        Devising systems (“systemizing”)

        Risk-taking

        Competitiveness and status-seeking

        Figuring out how objects and events work

        Mathematical reasoning

        Con games and theft

        Direct, physical aggression


     This does not mean, “All men are more competitive than all women.” It does not mean, “All women are better at verbal communication than all men.”


It means that:

 

        If you were to select one of the above traits, such as, say, “risk-taking,” and

 

        If you were to find a quantifiable variable that would provide evidence about risk-taking by sex, such as, say, “number of race car drivers,” and collect the data,

 

        Then the theory would predict you would likely find a difference in the number of race car drivers by sex, namely, significantly more males than females; and

 

        The theory would also predict that, because of the sex-specific, genetic basis for risk-taking behaviour, you would find the same pattern when measuring “number of race car drivers,” everywhere in the world, regardless of country or culture. In other words, evidence that males have evolved brain circuitry that inclines them towards risk-taking behaviour.


     The theory would predict similar findings on measures of any of the above-listed sex-based traits (and many more). For example, to measure the trait, “aggression,” by sex, you could compare proportions of male and female prisoners incarcerated for violent crimes. If the theory has predictive value, you would find a much higher proportion of males doing prison time for violent crime (and, as it turns out, males in their late teens and twenties), again, regardless of nation or culture. (Interestingly, once pair-bonded, male criminal activity drops sharply.)


 

”Make Me Feel Like a Natural Man”

 

Here are some personal ads (found floating around on the Internet), supposedly from the Dublin News. Each ad has the potential to inspire at least one good country song lyric.

 

        Heavy drinker, 35, Cork Area. Seeks gorgeous sex addict interested in a man who loves his pints, cigarettes, Glasgow Celtic Football Club and has been known to start fights on Patrick Street at three o'clock in the morning.

 

        Bitter, disillusioned Dublin man, lately rejected by longtime fiancee, seeks decent, honest, reliable woman, if such a thing still exists in this cruel world of hatchet-faced bitches.

 

        Ginger haired Galway man, a troublemaker, gets slit-eyed and shitty after a few scoops, seeks attractive, wealthy lady for bail purposes, maybe more.

 

        Bad tempered, foul-mouthed old bastard, living in a damp cottage in the ass end of Roscommon, seeks attractive 21 year old blonde lady, with a lovely chest.

 

        Limerick man, 27, medium build, brown hair, blue eyes, seeks alibi for the night of February 27 between 8 PM and 11:30 PM.

 

        Optimistic Mayo man, 35, seeks a blonde 20 year old double-jointed super model, who owns her own brewery, and has an open-minded twin sister.



     A couple of sex-based inborn traits may partly explain the overwhelming male preoccupation with music (discussed in the next section).

 

        Males have a particular interest in, and propensity for, tracking moving things. Music is the “moving art.” It’s largely about tracking beats—“moving objects”—as they sequence through time.

 

        Males have a natural aptitude for spatial cognition (which, by the way, is associated with the hormone testosterone). As discussed in the section on brain lateralization, the right hemisphere of the brain is the location of both spatial cognition and the processing of harmony and pitch. This indicates the modules responsible for spatial cognition may handle harmony and pitch as “spatial” elements of sound.


 

The Moralistic Fallacy

 

When you turn the naturalistic fallacy on its head, you get the moralistic fallacy, sometimes called wishful thinking or political correctness. In the moralistic fallacy, “ought” = “is.” That is, you believe that what ought to be true actually is true—even though there’s no logical connection between “ought” and “is.”


A familiar example: human males and females ought to have the same brain structure and psychological constitution at birth. So (magically) ... they do! Believing otherwise means condoning sexism. And, therefore, all of the empirical evidence showing that human males and females are in fact psychologically significantly different from each other at birth, shaped in the course of evolution by sex-based differences in adaptive pressures—all that evidence must somehow be wrong (shoot the messenger).


People believe all sorts of things about wonderful human nature—people aren’t greedy, people don’t lie, people don’t cheat— merely because they ought to be true, despite evidence to the contrary.



     As in many other species, human females have evolved as mate choosers. Human females have to make enormous investments of time, energy, and sacrifice in raising offspring. In North America, for example, women with children earn about 75 cents to men’s dollar. However, childless career women earn just as much as men.


     While females have evolved as mate choosers, males have evolved to display. Human males tend to become status-and-power competitors. Where opportunities arise, females tend to choose (except in cultures where parents arrange marriages) high-achieving (i.e., displaying) male mates.


     In Palaeolithic times, men used physical power, aggressiveness, and competitive instincts to achieve status and power, and impress women. Today, men use the same inborn aggressiveness and competitiveness to achieve status and power in business, religion, politics, and justice—and impress women. As listed in Brown’s Human Universals, human males dominate the institutions of power in every culture, a fact that will not likely change any time soon, despite wishful thinking. This is a trifle unsettling for the future of H. sapiens as a species, considering human males exclusively build and control all the nuclear weapons in all the nations that have nukes.



1.5.14

MUSIC AS AN ADAPTATION SHAPED BY SEXUAL SELECTION: PROPORTIONS OF MALE AND FEMALE MUSICIANS

 

According to Darwin’s sexual selection theory, males write and perform songs to impress females, ultimately for purposes of acquiring women to mate with. Musicianship in males tends to skyrocket after puberty, crests in young adulthood, and declines after marriage.


     A male musician is not usually aware that his love of music-making probably stems from an inherently male competitive inclination to impress choosy females with a flashy display, like a peacock, that indicates survival and reproductive fitness. If runaway sexual selection began to shape the evolution of music one or two million years ago, the positive feedback loop would take the form of increasing demands for more impressive displays of musical talent, triggering ever greater cognitive functions, resulting in ever-swelling brain size. The theory would predict that, by now, a lopsided sex imbalance favouring male musicians would exist, regardless of musical genre, regardless of nation, regardless of culture.


     And that’s precisely what’s observed.


     For example, one analysis of samples from more than 7,000 albums (rock, jazz, classical) revealed that the overwhelming majority of the principal music makers (more than 90%) were male, regardless of musical genre.


     The fact of pan-cultural male dominance of music gets little media attention. Yet flip through any magazine devoted to music, and you’ll find that the great majority of composers, songwriters, and performers are male. It’s like flipping though the sports pages of any newspaper, and for similar reasons that have roots in the evolutionary history of hominids.


     Check out your own collection of recordings. Count the musicians by sex—not just the act’s headliner, but all the musicians who play on each recording. (More often than not, a female star will have an all-male or mostly-male backing band, and will co-write her songs with male songwriters.) You’ll likely find that the overwhelming majority of songwriters, vocalists, and instrumentalists in your own music collection are male, unless you make a point of deliberately searching out and collecting music composed and performed by women only.


     Apart from your own collection, another sample worth checking out for male-female proportions is the Gold Standard Song List which lists 5,000 songs written over a 100-year period, spanning 14 genres (see Appendix 1).


     All of the above notwithstanding ... just because far fewer women than men become career musicians, that does not mean women ought not to have a career in music. If you’re a woman, and you write and/or perform music, you may well have heard some variant of the naturalistic fallacy with respect to women and music: if it’s found in nature (i.e., more men than women make a living in music), then that’s the way it ought to be. Rubbish. There’s no logical connection between “is” and “ought,” which is why it’s called the naturalistic fallacy. Sadly, in some cultures, adherence to the naturalistic fallacy prevents women who want a music career from having it.


     Although the evidence clearly indicates males have a stronger drive than females to become musicians, males do not become better musicians than females who become musicians. Musical ambition does not equate with inherent musical ability.



1.5.15

WHY IS THERE SUCH A THING AS MUSIC? PROBABLY “ALL OF THE ABOVE

 

When the smoke clears, why the heck did music evolve in humans— music that’s so unlike the vocalizing of any other species?


     Summary of three of the leading suspects:

 

 

     1.  Mother-infant Communication

 

No denying the reality of motherese, nor the universality of it, nor the survival value of it. Much evidence supports Ellen Dissanayake’s hypothesis that motherese is, at its core, musical communication. Newborns and adults share many of the same musical preferences and skills.

 

The music-emotion connection originates with motherese and is linked directly with survival. In adults, this would help explain why humans have a high regard for intensely emotional music. Music competently composed and performed evokes survival-linked emotions in listeners. That’s why audiences highly value performers and composers who can actually achieve such a feat. (Not many can.)

 

 

     2.  Social Bonding

 

Skinny little hominids would not have survived on the African savannah had they not clumped together in larger and larger groups. By what mechanism did they achieve and maintain group cohesion in the absence of language? Music certainly looks like a good candidate.

 

Plenty of evidence indicates music and group dancing serve as bonding mechanisms, ways of intensifying group solidarity and coordinating emotional arousal.

 

For tens or hundreds of thousands of years, since humans acquired the music adaptation, the only way to listen to music was in a group of a minimum of two—usually more than two. The ability to listen to music in solitude did not become possible until the advent of recording technology in the late 19th Century.

 

Everywhere in the world, most music-making takes place in group contexts. Groups such as bands, choirs, orchestras, and sports crowds perform for audiences who not only listen but often participate.

 

 

     3.  Sexual Selection

 

Darwin observed musical courtship displays in many species of animals, notably monogamous bird species, mostly during mating season. Conspicuously by males. According to Darwin’s theory of sexual selection, the capacity for music in humans evolved as a sexually selected male courtship display, just as in other animals.

 

In every society, far more males than females have the urge to make music. Young males, predominantly. They say it’s for art’s sake, but they do it to get girls. It works. It’s what would be expected in a sexually-selected trait.

 

Fisher’s runaway sexual selection hypothesis, an elaboration of one aspect of Darwin’s theory, would help explain the huge discrepancy in male vs female participation in human music making. While males and females are equally competent at creating and performing music, males tend to become obsessive about it after puberty. Male fascination with music continues until pair-bonding, after which it tends to drop off.

 


     There’s no reason to suppose that the various hypotheses about why music evolved in humans mutually exclude each other. It is a fact that the capacity for music, like the capacity for language, is in the brain at birth. After the motherese phase of life, the brain circuitry for music does not go away. Music remains a powerful means of emotional communication throughout life.


     Mother-infant musical communication is inherently social, so it’s reasonable that the social nature of music would continue to resonate in adulthood. This would help explain the group bonding properties of music in adults, even if music originally evolved for infant survival.


     It would also help account for the use of music in courtship, as both emotional and social communication. As Dissanayake points out:

In humans, love songs and courtship speech use childish words and refer to childish things to create and display intimacy, for example, ... popular songs that express the [sentiment] ... “Baby, I love you.”

     When a guy sings lyrics using words such as “baby,” and “mama,” he doesn’t realize how literal the lyrics are—an adult version of motherese, the musical mother-infant communication system.


     (By the way, this has nothing to do with Freud’s weird, unsupported hypotheses. While on the mark about each person having an active unconscious mind, Freud’s bizarre theory of child psychosexual development, complete with Oedipus complex, Electra complex, phallic stage, and so on, amounts to fanciful hokum.)


     Fisher’s theory of runaway sexual selection may best explain encephalation in humans. Females select the smartest, most capable males to mate with. Their progeny, both male and female, become smarter and more capable over time. Women make ever-escalating demands for smart, capable mates. Men adapt by becoming even smarter and more capable (actually a courtship display). A feedback loop. Over a couple of million years, the cortex gets larger in both sexes.


     If this explains encephalation in humans, then the human brain is the human equivalent of the peacock’s tail, with human males responding to human females’ obsession with brilliance by evolving more ways to display mental prowess, one of those ways—a major one—being music.


*   *   *   *   *


     A final word on the “what-who-where-when-why” of music, from one of the greatest investigator-songwriters of all time ...


            In search of love and music, my whole life has been

            Illumination, corruption, and diving, diving, diving, diving

            Diving down to pick up on

            Every shiny thing

            Just like that black crow flying

            In a blue sky

                                —JONI MITCHELL (“Black Crow” from Hejira

 

~ • ~ • ~ • ~

 

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You are reading the FREE SAMPLE Chapters 1 through 6 of the acclaimed 12-Chapter book, How Music REALLY Works!, 2nd Edition. Here's what's in Chapters 7 through 12. 

 

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 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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