Mar 29, 2009

Music: A gift to move and soothe us

Heard a short piece today on the Science Pod from the AAAS. Music seems to have an evolutionary component and may not be "auditory cheesecake" as Stephen Pinker described. Music might be ingrained in our psyche to provide group benefit of some sort. 

Three different pieces of music were played to the Maffa people from Cameron. They were able to distinguish "happy" or "sad" music despite never having been exposed to outside music forms or influences. The researchers concluded an evolutionary component to musical understanding.

Music is a gift that can soothe our nerves, move our tushes an inform our needs. Early music may have been used to alert or describe. It may have helped tell a story or build rapport with new friends. We all make music whenever we open our mouths. You may not find your child's requests or demands for attention melodious but you're hearing music of human interaction. 

I suspect that after hundreds of thousands of years we've really refined our sense and ear for music. Listen to rap, hip hop, rock, soul, ragtime, R&B, juju, reggae, tango, waltz, rondo, no, butoh, raga, folk, calypso, or any of hundreds of other forms of music, now mixed, remixed and mashed. You will quickly hear similarities and differences. Structure, time signature, scale construction, instrumentation, rhythm and language all participate in our sharing of music.

As our species spread across the planet we turned most materials we found into food, toys, tools, garments, and musical instruments. We've learned a variety of systems to record music to share with others and to teach it to our young.

I expect to have more to say about music in the future. I had to write about it today because, after hearing the new evidence from Science, I'm sure music is vital to our brains' growth and balance.

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