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The Or Defining music as a step toward explaining its origin The OrDefining Music as a Step Toward Explaining its Origin Defining music as a step toward.

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Presentation on theme: "The Or Defining music as a step toward explaining its origin The OrDefining Music as a Step Toward Explaining its Origin Defining music as a step toward."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Or Defining music as a step toward explaining its origin The OrDefining Music as a Step Toward Explaining its Origin Defining music as a step toward explaining its origin Richard Parncutt University of Graz, Austria Society for Music Perception and Cognition Eastman School of Music, Rochester NY August 2011 SysMus Graz

2 Abstract: Since the breakdown of tonality (Wagner to Schoenberg) and the emergence of ethnomusicology, musicologists have been reluctant to define music, since definitions always depend on historical, cultural, and academic context. But these historical developments merely showed that music need not be tonal and that the distinguishing features of Western music should be absent from a general definition. They also drew attention to the different meanings of “music” and its translations in different cultures and periods. Today’s theories of the origin(s) of music differ in part because researchers still have different implicit definitions of music. The problem can be solved by specifying exactly what music is assumed to be – which incidentally also allows “musicology” to be defined. A definition might run as follows. Both music and language are acoustic, meaningful, gestural, rhythmic/melodic, syntactic, social, emotional, and intentional; music and language differ in that music is less lexical, more repetitive, more spiritual, less socially essential, and more expertise based. Of course all the terms in these lists need to be explained and if possible operationalized, and individual claims supported. Given the paucity of reliable information about the behavior of early humans that could have influenced music’s development, we need to explore new approaches to evaluating theories of its origin. One approach is to evaluate the extent to which each theory can parsimoniously account for or predict the listed features. Another is to evaluate the quantity and quality of relevant empirical studies that are consistent with the specific processes posited in the theory. I will present details of this systematic approach and briefly show how it can be used to evaluate theories such as those based on mate selection, social cohesion, and motherese.

3 Centre for Systematic Musicology Uni Graz, Austria Bernd Brabec Ethnomusicology Erica Bisesi Expression in piano music Daniela Prem Timbre in Jazz Michaela Schwarz Secretary Martin Winter Music and minorities Fabio Kaiser History of music cognition

4 Contents   My personal biases   What is “music”?   Theories of its origin   Comparative evaluation

5 My bias: Own research Theory of bonding/care, motherese and prenatal experience as origin of music Musicae Scientiae (2009) Oxford handbook of music psychology (2009) Adaptations: prenatal audition infant-mother bonding motherese Byproduct: music

6 My bias: Favorite authors Patel (2008). Music, language and the brain Ability to acquire language: more likely adaptation than music music acquisition takes longer music acquisition takes longer more differences in music ability more differences in music ability amusia has more social & biological cost amusia has more social & biological cost Thompson (2009). Music, thought and feeling several theories have pros and cons, could be valid several theories have pros and cons, could be valid different origins for different components different origins for different componentsBoth clear text for non-specialists  clarity for experts, big pictureclear text for non-specialists  clarity for experts, big picture

7 Bias: Parsimony, ecology, learning Patel (2009, p. 356): “from a scientific perspective it is better (because it assumes less) to take the null hypothesis that the trait in question has not been a direct target of selection. One can then ask if there is enough evidence to reject this hypothesis” Livingstone & Thompson (2009, p. 84) “there has been curious lack of attention to the possibility that musical origins can be explained without the need to invoke music-specific genes” Justus & Hutsler (2005, p. 1) “Pinker’s description of music as ‘auditory cheesecake’ has motivated many researchers within the music cognition community to respond with a renewed drive to ‘legitimize’ music as a cognitive domain worthy of study by establishing its biological and evolutionary bases”

8 Assumed knowledge (?) Physiology o large brain  early birth, more parental care o music modules not necessarily “genetic” (neuroplasticity!) o low larynx  size exaggeration, diversity of sounds Behavior o musilanguage (Brown) until: o phylogeny: c. 100(0) 000 years ago o ontogeny: c. 1 year old o separation of music from language in ritual o make language special  music, reflection (Dissanayake) Evolution o music uses many non-musical adaptations, e.g. auditory scene analysis, motor control, emotion systems o cognitive adaptations vs exaptations, and biological vs cultural aspects, are hard to separate (Fitch, Trainor)

9 Western history of defining “music” Pythagoras  Boethius: 3 kinds of musica   mundana (cosmos), instrumentalis (music), humana (health) 19 th Century musicology: ethnocentric   ratios, tonality, meter Post-Wagner, post-Schoenberg; ethnomusicology   “music” = complex, culture-specific holistic concept   definition depends on historical, cultural, academic context Today’s music psychology   list of universals from a Western perspective   prerequisite for scientific discussion (cf. hermeneutics in humanities)

10 Years agoRelevance for humanityRelevance for music animalsacoustic communication primatessonic social coordination hominids, tools large brain, social cognitionlang.-music separation sapiens, Neaderthal; low larynx reflection, theory of mind, affective engagement speech: complex vocab & syntax cultural explosion: art, religion instruments scales, metre complex ritual agriculture, villages, writing hierarchical social structures pentatonic/diatonic rich oral traditions 1 000Europe: religious dominationpolyphony, notation 100modern democracy electrical technologies new tonalities sound recording Music at the birth of humanity Music at the birth of humanity the “music” that I want to explain

11 Language and music universal features from a Western perspective Language & musicMusic vs language 1.primarily acoustic 2.primarily vocal 3.meaningful 4.multimodal 5.categorical 6.structured 7.syntactic 8.complex 9.social 10.emotional 11.intentional 12.flexible 1.less lexical 2.more repetitive 3.more polyphonic 4.more pleasurable 5.more spiritual 6.less socially essential 7.more expertise based NOT octaves, simple ratios, unequal scale steps, tonal hierarchies…

12 Three theories of music’s origin 1.Mate attraction 2.Social glue 3. Motherese Not considered here: 4. Cognitive training (Roederer, Cross) 5. Continuism, animal calls (Merker, McDermott) 6. Non-adaptive pleasure seeking (Pinker, Huron)

13 1. MATE: Sexual attraction Darwin (1871), Miller (2000), Levitin (2006) Evidence music is universal  adaptation? music is universal  adaptation? song and dance reflect fitness song and dance reflect fitness more male than female musicians more male than female musicians being in love = strong emotion being in love = strong emotion period of creativity = sexually activity period of creativity = sexually activityScenario ritualised displays of music (Darwin) and dance (Dean et al.) ritualised displays of music (Darwin) and dance (Dean et al.) girl chooses boy (?) girl chooses boy (?)

14 2. TRIBE: Social glue Brown (2000), Freeman (2000), Cross (2009), Dunbar (xxx), Huron (2001), McNeill (1995), Roederer (1984) Evidence o music fosters groups identity o motivates participants to support group o shared emotions  political control o promotes group survival in famine, war? Scenario o ritual  social organisation  music- speech separation “tribe“ = c. 100 hunter-gatherers

15 3. BABY: Mother-infant bond Dissanayake (2000), Falk (2004), Parncutt (2009) Evidence o Prenatal sound patterns are music-like similar to melody and rhythmsimilar to melody and rhythm depend on mother’s emotional statedepend on mother’s emotional state o Motherese is music-like gestural, emotional, meaningfulgestural, emotional, meaningful o Babies have music-like skills like adult non-musicians (Trehub)like adult non-musicians (Trehub)Scenario Larger brain  earlier birth  altriciality  motherese

16 How can theories of the origin of music be evaluated? Insurmountable problems Little evidence of ancient musical behavior Little evidence of ancient musical behavior Early “music” may have been quite different Early “music” may have been quite different Emergent scenarios cannot be evaluated Emergent scenarios cannot be evaluated Predictions can no longer be tested Predictions can no longer be tested Given the transitory nature of musical performance, we are extremely unlikely to ever know what kind of musical behavior our hominid ancestors engaged in (Fitch, 2006, p. 85) Practical solution: Analyse how each theory explains today’s music Analyse how each theory explains today’s music

17 Systematic evaluation procedure Three theories MATE, TRIBE, BABY Many features …of musilanguage AND of music after splitting from language Three questions How consistent is each theory with each feature? How well does each theory explain each feature? For which theory do we have empirical evidence? Point scores: 2 = good, 1 = ok, 0 = poor Based on known evidence and assumed scenario Preliminary, subjective

18 1. Primarily acoustic Both language and music are 1. Primarily acoustic physical vibrations of voice, instruments, air, ear... Physical limitations:  physiology of voice and ear  size  resonances of vocal tract  f 0 range of music ≈ 100 – 1000 Hz Evaluation: MATE 1, TRIBE 1, BABY 1 All three scenarios are acoustic but could also happen without sound

19 2. Primarily vocal Both language and music are 2. Primarily vocal Speech is more fundamental (older) than writing Vocal music is more fundamental (older) than instrumental (Lehmann et al., 2009); instrumental melodies have vocal character, lie in vocal range Evaluation: MATE 1, TRIBE 1, BABY 2 BABY is purely vocal, MATE and TRIBE could involve instruments

20 3. Meaningful Both language and music are 3. Meaningful They communicate information language: obvious music: mysterious philosophical & psychological issues Evaluation: MATE 2, TRIBE 2, BABY 2 All 3 scenarios communicate information

21 4. Multimodal Both language and music are 4. Multimodal primarily acoustic - but also corporal/gestural and visual Language role of sign and gesture role of sign and gestureMusic dance, conducting, musicians’ gestures dance, conducting, musicians’ gestures we talk about “rising pitch”, “fast tempo” we talk about “rising pitch”, “fast tempo” Evaluation: MATE 1, TRIBE 1, BABY 2 Motherese is clearly multimodal, the others not necessarily

22 5. Categorical Both language and music are 5. Categorical in pitch and time Speech: timing + intonation = prosody Categorical perception of phonemes by duration and pitch Music: rhythm + contour = melody Categorical perception of tones by metric position and scale step (more categories, more hierarchical). Western music: harmony Difference: a consequence of repetition? Evaluation: MATE 1, TRIBE 1, BABY 1 All three scenarios are repetitive but connection is unclear

23 6. Structured, organised Both language and music are 6. Structured, organised in pitch and time; universals in anatomy, physiology, cognition Melody: like speech in... Melody: like speech in... pitch/interval distributions, tone/phrase durations, arch shape Rhythm: tempo range like footsteps & heartbeats; Rhythm: tempo range like footsteps & heartbeats; movement character (multimodal); beat induction, entrainment Form: repetition, call-response, motivic development Form: repetition, call-response, motivic development Evaluation: MATE 2, TRIBE 1, BABY 2 For TRIBE the connection to human anatomy is less clear

24 7. Syntactic Both language and music are 7. Syntactic based on structural elements and principles Language nouns, verbs, subjects etc. nouns, verbs, subjects etc.Music motives, scale steps, beats etc. motives, scale steps, beats etc.Both contextual probabilities contextual probabilities hierarchical structures hierarchical structures ambiguities (esp. music) ambiguities (esp. music) Evaluation: MATE 1, TRIBE 1, BABY 1 All three scenarios have syntax - but simpler than today‘s music

25 8. Complex Both language and music are 8. Complex comprising many elements and patterns Quasi-infinite elaboration of finite elements language  complex semantics language  complex semantics music  complex pitch-time patterns music  complex pitch-time patterns  creativity, novelty, diversity Evaluation: MATE 1, TRIBE 1, BABY 2 We have empirical data only for the complexity of motherese

26 Language and music give groups and participants identity enable & motivate coordinated action 9. Social Both language and music are 9. Social promoting group cohesion Evaluation: MATE 1, TRIBE 2, BABY 2 Flirting is less altruistic

27 10. Emotional Both language and music are 10. Emotional motivating action Similar acoustic cues e.g. sadness (separation distress) = soft, slow, monotonous Strong and weak emotion music performance, theatre In music, emotion is “special” Evaluation: MATE 2, TRIBE 1, BABY 2 Lovers and babies are more emotional than ritual participants

28 11. Intentional Both language and music are 11. Intentional created intentionally and motivating people (not) to act  reviewing, planning  theory of mind, affective engagement  music as virtual person  intention, deliberate action  language: lying  music: emotional manipulation Evaluation: MATE 2, TRIBE 1, BABY 2 intentionality is clearer in one-to-one interactions

29 12. Flexible Both language and music are 12. Flexible with many different functions and meanings (Thompson)  social  emotional  medical  political  economic Generative:  variety  creativity Evaluation: MATE 1, TRIBE 2, BABY 1 specific goal of interaction limits range of meanings

30 Differences Music – as compared to language 1less lexical, more timbral 2more repetitive, formal, poetic 3more polyphonic 4more pleasurable 5more spiritual 6less socially essential 7more expertise based

31 1. Music: less lexical, more timbral  less like words in a dictionary ( Leitmotiv?)  less referential  more mysterious than other arts (e.g. for extraterrestrials)  more sound-, timbre-, consonance-oriented You can’t order a pizza with a violin, right? You can’t order a pizza with a violin, right? Evaluation: MATE 0, TRIBE 0, BABY 2 only BABY is prelinguistic; and caring adults have consonant voices

32 2. Music is more repetitive Musical themes can be endlessly repeated  more formal, more poetic than speech  childplay, learning  entrainment, shared intentionality I must not talk in class Evaluation: MATE 1, TRIBE 1, BABY 2 We have empirical data on repetitiveness only for motherese Babies need repetition to learn

33 3. Music is more polyphonic o Indonesian Gamelan o Central African pigmy songs o Tuvan overtone singing o “Northwest Asian court music” Evaluation: MATE 0, TRIBE 2, BABY 1

34 4. Music is more pleasurable Schubert, Becker  creates a positive atmosphere which motivates even more music making which motivates even more music making  reduces stress e.g. fear e.g. of strangers e.g. fear e.g. of strangers  more often emotional than speech even if not intrinsically more emotional even if not intrinsically more emotional Evaluation: MATE 2, TRIBE 1, BABY 2 Tribal meetings might also involve conflict resolution

35 5. Music is more spiritual transcendent, connecting, life-changing Gabrielsson & Lindström Wik (2003) Extraordinary experiences trance, flow, ecstacy; loss of awareness of self, body, time, space trance, flow, ecstacy; loss of awareness of self, body, time, space being surrounded, enclosed; oneness, wholeness being surrounded, enclosed; oneness, wholeness intimacy, divine communication intimacy, divine communication other dimensions, worlds, heaven, afterlife other dimensions, worlds, heaven, afterlife meaning of life, meaning of everything, totality meaning of life, meaning of everything, totality Special emotions wonder, transcendence, tenderness, nostalgia, peace, power, joy, tension, sadness (Zentner et al, 2008)wonder, transcendence, tenderness, nostalgia, peace, power, joy, tension, sadness (Zentner et al, 2008) Evaluation: MATE 0, TRIBE 0, BABY 2

36 6. Music is less socially essential  People with aphasia conspicuous conspicuous serious social difficulties serious social difficulties  People with amusia relatively inconspicuous relatively inconspicuous Evaluation: not possible for a negative feature

37 7. Music is more expertise based  Speaking everyone is expected to do it everyone is expected to do it everyone practices constantly everyone practices constantly  Playing music experts are admired experts are admired only experts practice regularly only experts practice regularly Evaluation: MATE 2, TRIBE 0, BABY 1

38 Points for MATE, TRIBE, BABY Lang & muspointsMusic vs languagepoints 1.prim.acoustic 2.prim. vocal 3.meaningful 4.multimodal 5.categorical 6.structured 7.syntactic 8.complex 9.social 10.emotional 11.intentional 12.flexible TOTAL 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 2 2, 2, 2 1, 1, 2 1, 1, 1 2, 1, 2 1, 1, 1 1, 1, 2 1, 2, 2 2, 1, 2 1, 2, 1 16, 15, 20 1.less lexical, more timbral 2.more repetitive 3.more polyphonic 4.more pleasurable 5.more spiritual 6.less socially essential 7.more expertise based TOTAL GRAND TOTAL: 0, 0, 2 1, 1, 2 0, 2, 1 2, 1, 2 0, 0, 2 - 2, 0, 1 5, 4, 10 21, 19, 30

39 Conclusion BABY best predicts multiple musical features All three (MATE, TRIBE & BABY) may have contributed to ancient emergence and development of music Any theory can be evaluated by this method


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