Friday, December 19, 2008

If Music be the Food of Love... on, give me excess of it.

A fascinating article in The Economist about the speculative evolutionary roots of music.

Some comments:
Today, people are so surrounded by other people’s music that they take it for granted, but as little as 100 years ago singsongs at home, the choir in the church and fiddlers in the pub were all that most people heard.
My father's family was very musical. Old tintypes of them show them at family reunions looking like a small orchestra. Occasionally, when he was disgusted at popular culture, he would talk about how the entire town of Roff, Oklahoma would meet and everybody was expected to to have something, such as a song or recitation, to entertain the others.

Of course, I find that the hypothosis fails in this regard:

Another reason to believe the food-of-love [evolutionary] hypothesis is that music fulfils the main criterion of a sexually selected feature: it is an honest signal of underlying fitness. Just as unfit peacocks cannot grow splendid tails, so unfit people cannot sing well, dance well (for singing and dancing go together, as it were, like a horse and carriage) or play music well. All of these activities require physical fitness and dexterity. Composing music requires creativity and mental agility. Put all of these things together and you have a desirable mate.
I offer this in rebuttal:

No comments:

Blog List



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution2.5 License.