What Makes Us Musical Animals
Posted: 08 July 2012 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]
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For you music lovers out there I read an interesting article this morning:

What Makes Us Musical Animals

ScienceDaily (July 6, 2012) — In a forthcoming issue of Topics in Cognitive Science researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) argue that at least two, seemingly trivial musical skills can be considered fundamental to the evolution of music: relative pitch—the skill to recognise a melody independent of its pitch level—and beat induction—the skill to pick up regularity (the beat) from a varying rhythm. Both are considered cognitive mechanisms that are essential to perceive, make and appreciate music, and, as such, could be argued to be conditional to the origin of music.
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Posted: 08 July 2012 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The neurobiology of musci is a fascinating subject. Oliver Sacks wrote an interesting book about it, Musicophilia.

It seems to be uniquely human, and it has a lot of the features of what SJ Gould called the evolutionary “spandrels of San Marcos,” meaning something created by evolution but without an obvious adaptive value in and of itself, something that liekly emerged as a byproduct of features of the organism that evolved in response to unrelated selective pressures.

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Posted: 08 July 2012 04:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Many years ago we had an African Gray parrot who could pretty well duplicate the sounds of a guitar cord and even replicate series of them to make a tune.  But, I guess that’s not quite the same thing.

Occam

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Posted: 08 July 2012 06:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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mckenzievmd - 08 July 2012 12:31 PM

The neurobiology of musci is a fascinating subject. Oliver Sacks wrote an interesting book about it, Musicophilia.

It seems to be uniquely human, and it has a lot of the features of what SJ Gould called the evolutionary “spandrels of San Marcos,” meaning something created by evolution but without an obvious adaptive value in and of itself, something that liekly emerged as a byproduct of features of the organism that evolved in response to unrelated selective pressures.

Oh Yea    tongue wink

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Posted: 09 July 2012 07:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Yes, interesting.

A lot of what we like in music seems to be innate -  certain drum beat measures, certain harmonic scales, and drones all have a universal appeal.

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Posted: 10 July 2012 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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this one’s for you DM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sClT0-JSvic

cheese

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Posted: 11 July 2012 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Hah!  My cat does that on my clean laundry.

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Posted: 08 March 2013 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Dead Monky - 11 July 2012 08:01 AM

Hah!  My cat does that on my clean laundry.

Yea but can your cat do this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiblYasnzWE
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Posted: 08 March 2013 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Relative pitch and beat induction are two skills that we humans have in incredible abundance compared to any other species in the world. Some others do have some level of those abilities - probably most strongly in some bird species - but the best of the birds don’t hold a candle to what we humans can do. Absolute pitch, on the other hand, is more common in animals than in people, from what I understand. But, one aspect of music that is also pretty important which this article didn’t mention: articulation. Other animals also use articulation to communicate meaning, but nowhere near as much as we humans do, both in speech and in music.

I suspect that these three aspects of music are evolutionarily tied - directly - to the development of human speech, which means that we’ve probably been speaking to each other (in some way) for a very long time, long enough for our brains to adapt to it and reinforce the behavior.

This is becoming a bit of a hobby of mine. This is one of the few things I’d go back to college to get a doctorate for if I can: studying music cognition. I understand that Northwestern has a good music cognition program, but that school’s doctoral program is rather prestigious and hard to get in to. My focus of interest has been in the relative-pitch abilities, especially as it pertains to developing more effective tools with which to create enjoyable music.

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“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

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Posted: 08 March 2013 09:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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mid atlantic - 09 July 2012 07:08 AM

Yes, interesting.

A lot of what we like in music seems to be innate -  certain drum beat measures, certain harmonic scales, and drones all have a universal appeal.

I doubt it’s innate or inborn.  I"m sure it’s experiential, though there could be some genetic tendency to music appreciation or ability in general.  Taste in music would still be dependent on what one has been exposed to, especially at a young age.

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Posted: 09 March 2013 05:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Lois - 08 March 2013 09:55 PM
mid atlantic - 09 July 2012 07:08 AM

Yes, interesting.

A lot of what we like in music seems to be innate -  certain drum beat measures, certain harmonic scales, and drones all have a universal appeal.

I doubt it’s innate or inborn.  I"m sure it’s experiential, though there could be some genetic tendency to music appreciation or ability in general.  Taste in music would still be dependent on what one has been exposed to, especially at a young age.

Lois

OK, allow me to introduce a speculation.  IMO, everything in the universe is closely connected and tuned to waves and/or frequencies of all kinds. This is innate in all things and perhaps necessary to reality itself.
Humans and many animals are especially tuned to certain wavelengths (the ones we can actually experience). All animals communicate through one or a combination of sound, color, smell.
While each species has its own adapted ability for certain waves/frequencies,  together we experience the “symphony of life”.  David Bohm called it the “Holomovement”.

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Posted: 09 March 2013 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Write4U - 09 March 2013 05:04 AM

OK, allow me to introduce a speculation.  IMO, everything in the universe is closely connected and tuned to waves and/or frequencies of all kinds. This is innate in all things and perhaps necessary to reality itself.
Humans and many animals are especially tuned to certain wavelengths (the ones we can actually experience). All animals communicate through one or a combination of sound, color, smell.
While each species has its own adapted ability for certain waves/frequencies,  together we experience the “symphony of life”.  David Bohm called it the “Holomovement”.

This seems like a big stretch to me.

First of all, it’s not true that everything in the universe interacts with everything else in the universe via waves of force or particles. The universe (from what we can imply from observation) extends beyond the horizon imposed by the speed of light, and waves spread at the speed of light. And, even discounting limits imposed by the speed of light, ‘closely connected’ does not apply in the way that people think of things being closely connected. Second of all, music does not deal with all forms of waves in the universe. It only deals with local sounds, and how our brains and bodies interpret those sounds.

[ Edited: 09 March 2013 06:42 AM by TromboneAndrew ]
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Posted: 09 March 2013 06:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 09 March 2013 06:39 AM
Write4U - 09 March 2013 05:04 AM

OK, allow me to introduce a speculation.  IMO, everything in the universe is closely connected and tuned to waves and/or frequencies of all kinds. This is innate in all things and perhaps necessary to reality itself.
Humans and many animals are especially tuned to certain wavelengths (the ones we can actually experience). All animals communicate through one or a combination of sound, color, smell.
While each species has its own adapted ability for certain waves/frequencies,  together we experience the “symphony of life”.  David Bohm called it the “Holomovement”.

This seems like a big stretch to me.

First of all, it’s not true that everything in the universe interacts with everything else in the universe via waves of force or particles. The universe (from what we can imply from observation) extends beyond the horizon imposed by the speed of light, and waves spread at the speed of light. And, even discounting limits imposed by the speed of light, ‘closely connected’ does not apply in the way that people think of things being closely connected. Second of all, music does not deal with all forms of waves in the universe. It only deals with local sounds, and how our brains and bodies interpret those sounds.

Change “closely connected” to “ultimately connected”.  The rest of your post seems to confirm the wavelike functions at various levels of expression.

The point I was trying to make is that everything in the universe exhibits wavelike forms and functions and therefore everything in the universe responds to these fundamental constants.  Everything is tuned to their own frequencies and all animals (in one way or another) make music of sorts, grunts, clicks, squeaks, squeals, chirps, etc. etc.

But of course as with our ability for abstract thought, our ability to use frequencies to make music and write symphonies, does not negate my argument that in its own way all living (and non-living) things respond to wave functions and frequencies.  Is this a controversial statement?

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Posted: 09 March 2013 11:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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No, it’s not controversial. I guess I’m just making sure that I understand what you mean. It’s easy to read what you write and (with a bit of lazy reading) see a close description of some new-age beliefs. But, of course new-age stuff posits waves that people experience that are completely unknown to science.

Concerning waves, I’ve even heard it said (convincingly) that living organisms are essentially a form of wave. How long does it take, on average, to replace virtually every molecule in our bodies? 7-8 years, maybe?

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