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Evolutionary purpose of music.

 
 
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 07:53 am
It's an interesting topic and im only giving an opinion here.
But i definatly think that music can be related to instincts, i think the main purpose of music is for the social aspect.
If you take a group of teenagers from this modern era, they are typically all going to like the same music, no matter how bad it is, and not only will they like it, but instinctively they will like it, they will feel something good in the pit of there stomach when they hear it. BUT, if you take the same group of teenagers from this era, and showed them all music from the 70's chances are they won't like it. Even though, if you took a group of teenagers from that era, they would have liked it.
But i think theres a lot more too music as well. My dad for example, he is a great musician and he loves playing the piano (and many other insterments) .
He plays in bars and hotels sometimes, but he only ever plays the music that he likes, the music that makes him feel good. So thats generally a problem because other people don't like it that much, but it doesn't stop my dad. He wont change his style to impress others even though he easily could with his talent.
So in that example we can defiantly see that music serves another purpose, that doesn't quite fit into evolution. Although maybe you could say its there to increase happiness, and motivation, therefore increasing work ethic etc.

Please give any opinions Smile
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Type: Discussion • Score: 11 • Views: 13,753 • Replies: 20
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plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 08:52 am
Interestingly, some friends and I have had an on-going discussion as to the possibility that music, in the form of tone, preceded language, that is, words. Some of these friends are musicians.
Ceili
 
  2  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 09:04 am
I'd agree with that POM. Music has always been with us from the buzzing of bees, the drone, to birds chirping and rhythms of the sea or a woodpecker... I believe language mimicked these sounds evolved from there.
As for teens agreeing on music... I disagree. When I was a teen, hair bands were big, I couldn't stand metal or hard rock. I remember arguments held over favourite bands, types and songs. I hear my kids having the same disagreements with their friends. Some kids are huge Beatles, Pink Floyd or Doors fans and other think anything older than the most recent hit sucks. People will, regardless of age, have personal preferences and always will.
Music isn't static, it will always evolve and change too. What becomes popular will undoubtable come to define a bubble in time but will not be on the tops of the charts forever.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 09:15 am
I really don't like the phrase "evolutionary purpose". There is no "evolutionary purpose" for anything. Evolution is an undirected process based on random mutations (many of which are selected for survival value). But "purpose" is a rather bad word for something that is basically a product of random mistakes.

I think the term "survival value" is a better way to phrase the question (as in what is the survival value of music). However, not every trait that comes about through evolution has to have a survival value.

My conjecture is that humans rely on symbolic thinking which had survival value-- helping us form cohesive societies, develop language and develop technology (all of which made helped us flourish as a species). I think music is a side effect of the parts of the brain that that are responsible for language and symbolic thought-- the music doesn't help us survive by itself, but it the parts of the brain that make us like music sure does.
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 09:51 am
@Ceili,
Thanks, Ceili, a woman with a musical nom d'email!

While there are different social conventions for whether or raise or lower the voice at the end of a sentence, when one sees a movie made in a language one does not understand, the tones the actors use can clue the viewer to what is happening.

My own experience as a teenager was like yours, only mine was during the 1960s, when The Beatles were there in the original. Some kids liked folk music, others liked Motown and still others liked Acid Rock or Art Rock.

I think that recorded sound has done a great deal to change music and to push it forward because musicians everywhere in the world do not have "reinvent the wheel." For many years, British rock, folk and blues musicians (sometimes, the same person is all three) have said that they were inspired by American records. These people did not have to "invent" the blues. They could listen to recordings by the likes of Robert Johnson or Sonny Terry or Bessie Smith and imitate them, then go on from there.
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Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 10:26 am
@jackattack,
Music could be related to instincts, though How that is I can't figure.

It does seem to have a near-universal effect on people; and yes, emotion does figure in somehow (probably via associated engrams). I've noticed that for me, music tends to evoke feelings of memories (rather than specific memories themselves). If this is at all widespread (this "tied to emotional-memory aspect" ) then it could explain your father's sticking to his style only. I know lots of folks who are similar: Almost as if they're stuck in time, only being able to relate to their own "grown-up with" music.

And I don't think it has a purpose per say; only that its effects seem to have a profound and tenacious effect on our memories, intellect and emotions.

Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 10:27 am
@plainoldme,
plainoldme wrote:

Interestingly, some friends and I have had an on-going discussion as to the possibility that music, in the form of tone, preceded language, that is, words. Some of these friends are musicians.


This is very likely, great point
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 10:33 am
How does it tie in that animals also get into music?
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 10:35 am
@Khethil,
Odd, I think that I have a genetic memory about music. I know songs that I shouldn't know. Perhaps it is because I come from a musical family on both sides of my family. I don't know about "the evolutioary purpose", so I'll have to pass on that.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 10:38 am
music has fascinated me all my life, my father would sing songs (some real, some made up, some a twisted version of the original) when he was driving, the music in the house growing up was a varied selection, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (thank you for my love of punk), original broadway cast recordings, Sweet Charity, South Pacfic and The Sound Of Music being faves (thank you for my love of the concept album, and oddly my hatred for musical theater) and Allan Sherman, the Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh guy, for his musical parodies (thank you for my love of the mashup)

all this music combined with a lack of listening to Top 40 radio (grew up on the CBC) really helped me to develop my own concept of music i liked, not a program directors
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 05:01 pm
@Khethil,
Thanks.
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 05:03 pm
@djjd62,
Allan Sherman probably had more influence on people than he would have thought possible.
0 Replies
 
Jackofalltrades phil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jun, 2010 12:19 am
The word evolution drew me into this thread. I am not a great music enthusiast, although i love listening music mostly of melodious tunes. I am also a bird-watcher, and we do listen to bird calls and songs very carefully.

Just would like to share a few thoughts on evolution of music. Music, if it is an orderly succesive event of sounds, than surely the mind or our brain at the least like the orderliness and/or tolerates the patterns of sounds emanating from the source.

The pattern from an external source should correspond to the inner patterns of expectation. The inner acceptance of patterns may be called the aesthetics appeal of the person (in terms of musical sounds). Thus we see that it all depends upon individuals (subjective experiences). Since the experience changes - not just the individuals internal thought processes and patterns registered in th ebrain, but experiences of the external world - the milieu or environment an individual finds himslef or herself. This may include the experiences from the surrounding physical, social and psychological spheres of influences on a given mind. Since the social and psychological environment changes randomly or sometimes rapidly this makes the tunes in our mind change the aesthetic value to particular tunes or notes.

In short, music reflects the mood of the times, generally speaking.

Although the change of tunes reflects in a sense the evolutionary processes of aesthetic processes, one may also factor the subtle physical changes in brain cells under the same evolitionary theory.

Now, on instincts - a bird of a particular specie's sings according to the general scale and pattern of its parents. It is natural that a receptive sensory mind will sing the tune of the nearest sound patterns heard often and purposefully. Instinct and education both helps to be discrete about musical sounds and its usage later.

To sum up, music is just like all arts, it is everchanging and ever shall be.
0 Replies
 
Eorl
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Jun, 2010 08:14 am
Music performance, composition, dance, even interpretation, are all demonstrations of a well functioning organism, worthy of mating with.
Drummers are the exception that prove the rule obviously.
0 Replies
 
salima
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 07:20 pm
i agree that music is most likely prelinguistic...begins with the drums, resounds with the heartbeat.

i see it as an expression the same as poetry or any other creative pastime...art in other words, wherever it is found. no purpose per se but loaded with meaning. music has uses also-medical, social, psychological, ethical, etc.

i dont think it would have been a chosen evolutionary trait...though for my own life i would choose it at the top of the list of what makes life meaningful. but it seems to me that is would be more of a result of evolution...
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 07:29 pm
@salima,
You don't think someone who plays the piano beautifully is more attractive? You don't think it demonstrates a variety of attractive skills and traits?
0 Replies
 
CarbonSystem
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 08:54 am
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

How does it tie in that animals also get into music?


They're on many recordings. Many animal sounds inspire songs by musicians. Perhaps a bird's song was one of the first things to inspire an early human to do the same. In that case it ties in directly, in my opinion.
CarbonSystem
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 09:00 am
As for age-groups, generations and their musical preference, I must disagree with the original thread poster. But I feel the game has changed. Back in the day, there was a very limited way of getting music. The record stores were, however, more numerous that today.
Now, we have the internet. The possibilites are endless. Many generation gaps don't even count anymore.

Speaking from personal experience, I love music from the 60's, some 70's, and before with jazz and blues. I also love certain music from the 90's - present. I don't at all jive with what the record companies who are enormous want you to listen to: Nickelback, new big nashville country sound, kid rock, etc.

So I've experienced music from different decades bring generations together far more than apart. Me and a friend played in a band with a guy who is 40+ and 50+, which, for a couple 20 year olds is rather uncommon. But I meet lots of older folks who like new music, and younger folk who like old music.

The line has seriously been blurred, and is maybe even disappearing.
CarbonSystem
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 09:04 am
@CarbonSystem,
Just remembered, another quick example:

At a bonfire the other day, about 15 people I'd say, all within 20-24 yrs of age. I would say that certainly a vast majority of the music played was at least 40 years old. The other part of it seemed to be new bands who sound great alongside old, and vice versa. Good music is good music. But new generation music lovers, not neccesarily teens who wouldn't say they love music, seem to look at music from many angles. I really enjoy the way it's going. Lot's of influences drawn from the music of our fathers and grandfathers.
0 Replies
 
melonkali
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Jul, 2010 10:38 pm
@CarbonSystem,
CarbonSystem wrote:

edgarblythe wrote:

How does it tie in that animals also get into music?


They're on many recordings. Many animal sounds inspire songs by musicians. Perhaps a bird's song was one of the first things to inspire an early human to do the same. In that case it ties in directly, in my opinion.


I'm not proposing an absolute rule here, but... Recently I realized that much of the music I'm drawn to has a "horse" rhythm; even without obvious percussion additions, you can feel the hoof-beats. Not surprisingly, much of this is Cossack music or music from regions of the Caucasus with a long tradition of horsemanship. Also not surprisingly, I chose to spend a large part of my own adult life around horses. Coincidence?

Here's an example: I took a video of a Cossack riding (apparently in some type of competition) and put two back-to-back versions of the same Cossack song against it: a traditional arrangement sung by a Cossack group, then a "bluegrass" arrangement by a "Russian bluegrass group" (Kukuruza), which (thankfully) did not accelerate the tempo to the typical bluegrass "machine-gun" pace, but still maintained a suitable "horse rhythm".

Note: since this vid's at Vimeo, you have to hit the "play" arrow to start it.

http://vimeo.com/12299529

rebecca
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