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Studies Show Even More: The Emerging Science of Evolutionary Neuro-Musicology

"Mounting evidence suggests that human beings are hardwired to appreciate music." And it may be that the harmonization required for communal music-making "works as a sort of rehearsal for the teamwork required for high stakes endeavors such as hunting and common defense." Jimi Hendrix, it appears, exploited his musical status to relentlessly spread his genes, although he was thwarted to some extent by the unnatural barrier of birth control. But Pinker throws cold water on all such speculation with his suggestion that it’s very possible that our species’ musical capabilities are just a "useless byproduct" of the evolutionary process through which we acquired language.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Man, this is SUCH dismal stuff. You could be reading Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Bloom, Scruton, on music generally; Barzun on Berlioz, Nietzsche on Wagner, Murray on Ellington or Hendrix, or Geoffery O’Brien on Brian Wilson. (Music-heads: after Martha Bayles’ HOLE IN OUR SOUL, the book on pop you gotta get is O’Brien’s literary but very wise SONATA FOR JUKEBOX) but instead we get Daniel Levitin ``This is Your Brain on Music," `who thinks that "To ask a question about a basic, omnipresent human ability is to implicitly ask questions about evolution." Well, sure, but aren’t there a whole lot of other questions too? Not to these guys, apparently. The article’s author even says "And yet it’s unclear what purpose it [music] serves." A very hillarious sentence.

Hey, I like speculatin’ about what cave men did or didn’t do as much as the next fellow, and particularly liked the way James Q. Wilson did it in the MORAL SENSE, but they way these evolutionary-psychologist-neuroscientist DWEEBS prattle on w/ not a single reference to the entire history of philosophic/literary thought on the matter is truly pathetic, not to mention unscientific.

And is it any coincidence that the author of such a peice, enamored as he is of reducing humans to animals, would proceed straight to the hoariest of racialist/animalistic mythologies of rock music, that is, the super-virility of James Hendrix, and its connection with, nay, inspiration of, his musical ability? Of course not. Hey, let’s not talk about Hendrix’ artistry, about all culture, all the old songs, that went into him to allow those fantastic solos to come out, no, let’s count off how many chicks he scored, like he was some alpha-male in a gorilla-pack. Put it on a chart somewhere!

whenever I ask where’s the outrage, Carl shows up...and with really, really smart outrage...He could make the big money doing a study that shows that evolutionary neuro-studies about people rarely show much of everything.

Dear Carl,
what’s wrong with speculation? That music has an evolutionary function, that it is not a gift of god, that it serves a biological function, are to me sesible speculative points; we are after all questioning animals, are we not?
To ridicule an idea which you ideologically (religiously?) disagree with is narrow. Can I gleen from your rancour that you are a creationist? If so I wouldn’t trumpet science and inquirey too loudly. We understand inquirey and the furtherance of inquirey to be the very antithesis of ’god botherers’.
Ridicule if you must, but at least ridicule by providing your own theory, and not just christian historic perspectives; get some evidence lad, give us a theory. And when you have done that provide decades of supporting evidence and argument, this being done we might take your non-sensical spiel more seriously.
Don’t hate science because it disagrees with you,or contradicts your shabby long held beliefs, love it because it disagrees with you. Lovers of knowledge are never afraid to say, "you are right, I am wrong, and I am happy to be thusly educated".

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