Steve Mithin, The Music Instinct
- The Music Instinct
The Evolutionary Basis of Musicality
Steven Mithen, University of Reading, Faculty of Science, Whiteknights,
Reading, United Kingdom
Address for correspondence: Steven Mithen, University of Reading, Faculty
of Science, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AF, UK. Voice: +44 (0) 118-378-8342;
fax: +44 (0) 118-931-7586. s.j.mithen@...
Copyright © 2009 The New York Academy of Sciences
music evolution adaptation hominins sociality
Abstract The Mystery of Music The Infuriating Silence of the Past
The Biological Basis of Music The Musicality of the Earliest Hominins
Why does music pervade our lives and those of all known human beings living
today and in the recent past? Why do we feel compelled to engage in musical
activity, or at least simply enjoy listening to music even if we choose not
to actively participate? I argue that this is because
musicalitycommunication using variations in pitch, rhythm, dynamics and
timbre, by a combination of the voice, body (as in dance), and material
culturewas essential to the lives of our pre-linguistic hominin ancestors.
As a consequence we have inherited a desire to engage with music, even if
this has no adaptive benefit for us today as a species whose communication
system is dominated by spoken language. In this article I provide a summary
of the arguments to support this view.