Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 77 (8905 total)
Current session began: 
Page Loaded: 04-26-2019 6:28 AM
17 online now:
PaulK, vimesey (2 members, 15 visitors)
Chatting now:  Chat room empty
Newest Member: WookieeB
Post Volume:
Total: 850,246 Year: 5,283/19,786 Month: 1,405/873 Week: 301/460 Day: 1/52 Hour: 0/0


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Prev1
2
Author Topic:   Evolution of Music Appreciation
arrogantape
Member (Idle past 2752 days)
Posts: 87
Joined: 09-26-2008


Message 16 of 28 (515426)
07-17-2009 8:17 PM


Since I love music, and have my house filled with it nearly all the time, I have given this thought. I really like the idea of pattern recognition. Sexual dimorphism also accounts for pleasing sound selection.

There is more, I believe. Thousands of species sing, and beat rhythmically. What's more, we humans admire the musicality that pervades the animal kingdom.

dissolved into the lowest denominator, our electrons operate in wave form. I think brain systems, with their ionic charges and electrical impulses meld smoothly with external rhythmical wave devices, and voices. It feels, "Right." Analog rules!

I have frozen wild deer in their tracks as I walk by, singing or whistling. I don't hunt. So much the pity.


    
Databed
Junior Member (Idle past 3414 days)
Posts: 7
From: Chattanooga, TN, USA
Joined: 09-10-2009


Message 17 of 28 (524654)
09-18-2009 12:00 AM


I can't believe nobody has hit on the idea that music = intelligence. I admit that I did skim a little, so if I missed it, I apologize.

It is known that women and men are attracted to intelligence just as they are attracted to a good physique. It is also very apparent that to be skilled in music requires not only good coordination but also an intelligence in music that correlates with general intelligence. In Africa, life probably became a little mundane and very easy at times for humans. There wasn't much in the way of expressing one's intelligence when everyone already knew the best way to kill an elephant, trap a zebra or find some fruit. It is easy to speculate that the guy who could hit the drum the best, thus demonstrating his intelligence, was getting all the ladies. Its also very easy to see, with the curiosity of man that was needed to generate innovation, that the sound a drum makes would be interesting in the first place. This could be true for art as well.


  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19819
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 18 of 28 (541627)
01-04-2010 7:11 PM


Bump for Deryn
Message 1 proposed new topic

I have listened to music and played various musical instruments during my 52 years. I can be moved by music, I like certain types of music, I dislike certain types of music.

Are there scientific reasons why I have certain preferences or is it more to do with my social upbringing?

DERYN

Yes.

Enjoy


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by DERYN, posted 01-05-2010 5:20 AM RAZD has acknowledged this reply

  
DERYN
Junior Member (Idle past 3288 days)
Posts: 4
Joined: 01-04-2010


Message 19 of 28 (541669)
01-05-2010 5:20 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by RAZD
01-04-2010 7:11 PM


Re: Bump for Deryn
Hi everyone, a very interesting thread that goes some way towards answering my question regarding the appreciation of music.
I am intrigued that if we listen to a scale or a piece of music and suddenly a note that doesn't belong to that scale or to that piece of music is played, we wince ! Is this a universal trait or is it part of our social upbringing ?

DERYN


This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by RAZD, posted 01-04-2010 7:11 PM RAZD has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by Stile, posted 01-05-2010 8:41 AM DERYN has not yet responded

    
Stile
Member
Posts: 3439
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 20 of 28 (541677)
01-05-2010 8:41 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by DERYN
01-05-2010 5:20 AM


Subjective Sounds of Music
DEYRN writes:

I am intrigued that if we listen to a scale or a piece of music and suddenly a note that doesn't belong to that scale or to that piece of music is played, we wince ! Is this a universal trait or is it part of our social upbringing?

I don't think such a thing would be a universal trait. But neither can it be attributed only to a social upbringing. I think it will likely be one of those unsatisfying "a bit of both" answers.

Appreciation of music is a subjective thing. I'm sure there's plenty of music that you wince at that thrives as someone elses favourite, and vice versa. In this sense, I can understand that there would never be any "universal" judgment on any piece of music being good or bad.

Of course, there certainly is the pattern-recognition side of things. Pretty much everyone knows of the Happy Birthday song, and I agree that pretty much everyone would wince at a wrong note during such a song. Such wincing would be a part of our social upbringing and what we have been taught. But everyone? Universally? I hesitiate to make such an all-encompasing claim on something as subjective as music appreciation.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by DERYN, posted 01-05-2010 5:20 AM DERYN has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by Peepul, posted 01-05-2010 8:59 AM Stile has acknowledged this reply

    
Peepul
Member (Idle past 3129 days)
Posts: 206
Joined: 03-13-2009


Message 21 of 28 (541680)
01-05-2010 8:59 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by Stile
01-05-2010 8:41 AM


Re: Subjective Sounds of Music
quote:
I am intrigued that if we listen to a scale or a piece of music and suddenly a note that doesn't belong to that scale or to that piece of music is played, we wince ! Is this a universal trait or is it part of our social upbringing?

I agree it's probably a mixture. For sure a lot is cultural. Most westeners cannot identify quarter tones for example.

Also the tuning we use (equal temperament) is a compromise designed to make it possible to use keyboards to play music in any key. It is not in line with the pure tunings we would use if we played music in one key only. The difference is subtle but it is noticeable.

I remember seeing a Paul Simon documentary in which he explained how he wanted Ladyship Black Mambazo to sing backings - but they would not sing what he had written (a minor chord) in one place because it did not fit their harmonic universe and in the end he let them sing a major chord there instead.

Something I've not seen covered in posts so far is the extreme emotional effect music can have on people. One explanation for this - my own, no evidence - is that it is some kind of abstraction of the pitch, tone and volume components of speech, which convey most of the emotional content of what we say. So, we are keying into the same emotional centres through music as we are through emotional speech.

I've always had the idea that music and dance developed as part of human mating rituals.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by Stile, posted 01-05-2010 8:41 AM Stile has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by DERYN, posted 01-05-2010 3:08 PM Peepul has not yet responded

    
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 22 of 28 (541685)
01-05-2010 10:41 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Lokins
06-01-2009 1:27 AM


Unintended Consequence?
Wouldn't it have to have evolved for some reason, though? Come from somewhere?

I used to think that...

Take a look at this video:

When they selected the foxes for tameness, other things came along with it (like coat patterns and barking).

My point being that sometimes when one thing gets selected for, other traits just come along for the ride. So selection for intellegence could have brought an appreciation for music with it.

Not every little trait we see has to have selective pressure for it specifically.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Lokins, posted 06-01-2009 1:27 AM Lokins has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 23 by RAZD, posted 01-05-2010 2:13 PM New Cat's Eye has not yet responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19819
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 23 of 28 (541699)
01-05-2010 2:13 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by New Cat's Eye
01-05-2010 10:41 AM


Re: Unintended Consequence?
Hi Catholic Scientist,

So selection for intellegence could have brought an appreciation for music with it.

Assuming that we were selected for intelligence rather than music ability ... or (more likely, imho), selection for music (dance and art) under sexual selection lets intelligence come along for the ride.

Which came first eh?

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-05-2010 10:41 AM New Cat's Eye has not yet responded

  
DERYN
Junior Member (Idle past 3288 days)
Posts: 4
Joined: 01-04-2010


Message 24 of 28 (541700)
01-05-2010 3:08 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Peepul
01-05-2010 8:59 AM


emotional effects to music ?
It is quite interesting watching peoples responses to different types of music. As a teacher of young children I always enjoyed watching pupils respond to different types of music. Fast music, pupils would run around pretending to be cars, slow music, pupils would hold their arms out and fly around slowly like birds. Other music would result in pupils laying down, hopping, dancing. All reactions were predictable and probably socially learned. But even into adulthood music provokes different responses. There is a piece of music by Barber I think that has to be one of the saddest sounding pieces of music ever ! why ? As a musician myself I know music in minor chords definitely provoke different responses to music in major chords. why ?

DERYN


This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by Peepul, posted 01-05-2010 8:59 AM Peepul has not yet responded

    
dwise1
Member
Posts: 3409
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 8.3


(1)
Message 25 of 28 (541701)
01-05-2010 3:23 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Lokins
05-31-2009 1:32 AM


I couldn't help but notice that most responses are concentrating on individual benefits, even though one did mention that individuals don't evolve, but rather populations do.

Consider this the next time you're sitting around a campfire having a sing-a-long:
We are social animals, which is arguably the greatest survival trait that we have acquired. Other traits we may develop that promote or support social cohesion should be selected for and those that endanger social cohesion should be selected against.

Music, singing, and dancing are social activities that promote social cohesion and a sense of being a part of the group. The same goes for engaging in any kind of ritual, which becomes apparent in religious and military rituals.

I would suspect that music appreciation, including sexual selection based thereupon, developed later. Again, just observing most group sing-a-longs should show that music appreciation very rarely comes into play there, rather it's the group activity and the resultant cameraderie.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Lokins, posted 05-31-2009 1:32 AM Lokins has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee, posted 01-21-2010 4:47 AM dwise1 has not yet responded

    
websnarf
Junior Member (Idle past 3277 days)
Posts: 9
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 11-30-2009


Message 26 of 28 (543817)
01-20-2010 10:29 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Lokins
05-31-2009 1:32 AM


quote:

One of the things that I have an interest for is thinking of any human trait (very often psychological), and then wondering why that trait evolved to be the way it is. One trait that I've found it very hard to find an evolutionary explanation for is our appreciation for music. Why is it that it pleases us to listen to music?

Appreciation for music doesn't seem at first glance to be directly beneficial to our survival. One thing that my friend suggested is that it could be a sort of side-effect of another trait that we developed. I have trouble thinking of what this trait might be.


Dr. Alison Wray has put forward a theory that, in fact, music is a by product of communication behavior from our ancestors that predates language. Dr. Stephen J. Mithen has analyzed this theory very extensively in his book "The Singing Neanderthals" and I have to say that I am very sympathetic to his analysis.

The idea is that some very rudimentary forms of communication evolved as a substitution for grooming (originally Robin Dunbar's theory, but for language instead of singing; grooming is an extremely important behavior for all social apes that we appear to have "lost" but which Dunbar points out that really we have just substituted with language). This would includes gestures and call signs (much like other apes and birds use.) As our brains got more sophisticated, our call sign vocabulary got larger, and our ability to distinguish pitch and tempo got better until musical patterns became a natural dimension to exploit.

Music provided a very limited ability to encode any vocabulary, but the vocabulary we needed was commensurate with the sophistication of our behavior. The levels of behavior can be distinctly broken down to 1) Oldowan tools, 2) Fire + Acheluen tools, 3) Fire + Acheluen tools + wooden spears, 4) Fire + Harpoons + Arrow heads + poison + cave painting + water caches + etc.

Mithen's version of the theory states that musical based communication corresponds to stage 3) which is what heidelbergensis, neanderthal and the very early archaic H. sapiens achieved. He suggests that a precursor to music may have developed by 2) (later Homo ergaster) for the purposes of making the "grandmother hypothesis" work. I.e., women were living longer (past menopause) and would help take care of other people's babies (which were becoming high maintenance, especially since we lost our hair which babies could now no longer grasp), while mothers were obtaining food. So women learned some kind of "baby talk" as a means of keeping their babies calm and helping them develop.

Stage 4) required language and Mithen suggests that this developed only in the last 70-50K years because that's when we see evidence for this complex behavior. However recent archaeological finds suggest that this needs to be pushed back possibly as far as 164K years ago (that's in the idaltu time frame and *before* the Skhul Cave finds). Apparently some "small tools" have been found that date this early. (However, this complicates a personal theory of mine that I am not yet ready to share with the world; especially now that it seems I need to rework it.)

Stage 1) in case you were curious is just the Homo habilis stage, which provided the first postive feedback mechanism for growing more sophisticated brains, turning this into a selected trait.

Mithen supports his analysis fairly well. The icing on the cake, I think, is a cave he refers to (I can't remember the name of it) which has truly awesome acoustics. It is clear that Neanderthals hung around in that cave from a hearth that was build there as well as certain boundaries outlined in the ground. There are no animal or fossils or cave paintings or tools anywhere in that cave and the carbon remnants predate the appearance of "Cromagnon" in europe. But there are stactites and stalagmites there. So what the hell were they doing in there? Banging on the rock formations in the cave makes it clear -- they made music there; it was a paleolithic night club.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Lokins, posted 05-31-2009 1:32 AM Lokins has not yet responded

    
Jumped Up Chimpanzee
Member (Idle past 3053 days)
Posts: 572
From: UK
Joined: 10-22-2009


(1)
Message 27 of 28 (543822)
01-21-2010 4:47 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by dwise1
01-05-2010 3:23 PM


Consider this the next time you're sitting around a campfire having a sing-a-long:
We are social animals, which is arguably the greatest survival trait that we have acquired. Other traits we may develop that promote or support social cohesion should be selected for and those that endanger social cohesion should be selected against.

Music, singing, and dancing are social activities that promote social cohesion and a sense of being a part of the group. The same goes for engaging in any kind of ritual, which becomes apparent in religious and military rituals.

I think this social cohesion must be a major factor. It's quite easy to imagine that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would develop rhythmic chants while out looking for food. It would help them feel cohesive, it would help identify them to other groups, it would help ward off other groups or dangerous animals, and also it would be a signal to or from their village/camp as they returned home.

Another thing that I don't think anyone has mentioned in this discussion is the idea that babies like to be held against their mother's heart, as it is safe and comforting, and maybe even reminds them of their time in the womb. I heard someone say that even left handed people will usually instinctively hold a baby to the left side of their chest. I don't know if anyone can verify that fact. Small children also enjoy being rhthmically jigged up and down on someone's knee. So do adults if we can persuade anyone to do it! It's not hard to see how the same comforting feeling of nurturing could be gained from foot tapping or beating a stick.

None of that explains why I have absolutely no sense of rhthym at all, though.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHT: I've often wondered why such a big deal is made about the music charts. Why do the public care so much about which pop song is number one? Why do bands have supporters in a similar way to sports teams? If you like a particular song or a particular band's style of music, what difference does it make whether or not anyone else shares your opinion? Why care? The answer would seem to come very neatly from the idea that music was originally developed as a kind of tribal identity.

Edited by Jumped Up Chimpanzee, : ADDITIONAL THOUGHT


This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by dwise1, posted 01-05-2010 3:23 PM dwise1 has not yet responded

  
paulmarkj
Junior Member (Idle past 3030 days)
Posts: 1
Joined: 08-17-2010


Message 28 of 28 (574726)
08-17-2010 1:22 PM


You brain on music music
I would recommend the book "This is Your Brain on Music: Understanding a Human Obsession" by Daniel J. Levitin.

This doesn't answer directly the OP question, but it explains what music is to humans and how our brains respond.

In short, there is no music centre of the brain like there is with language or sight but instead, music stimulates all parts of the brain, so the cortex responds to music in 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 but the language parts of the brain take over for 7/8.

It describes some bizarre and innovative experiments to show how animal brains respond to music and perhaps most importantly, Levitin's experiments show how brains respond to the whole musical sound not just each part, eg: that the beat, the pulse, the melody cannot be separated to show how the brain responds to each, the brain must here all parts: the melody may stimulate the language part of the brain and the pulse stimulate the cortex - but when both are heard together, both stimulations work together.

And my favourite: the loudness does affect how we perceive the music: music DOES sound better when played louder.

Levitin started his career in music industry, working with prominent artists and moved on to university and is now (according to wiki) a cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist.

Edited by paulmarkj, : No reason given.

Edited by paulmarkj, : No reason given.


    
Prev1
2
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2018 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2019