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Prenatal “experience” and the phylogenesis and ontogenesis of music Richard Parncutt, University of Graz Music & Science, Baden bei Wien, Austria, 1-4.

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Presentation on theme: "Prenatal “experience” and the phylogenesis and ontogenesis of music Richard Parncutt, University of Graz Music & Science, Baden bei Wien, Austria, 1-4."— Presentation transcript:

1 Prenatal “experience” and the phylogenesis and ontogenesis of music Richard Parncutt, University of Graz Music & Science, Baden bei Wien, Austria, 1-4 October 2006

2 Music, the body and biology Movement and dance (Trevarthen) Identity (Janata) Melody and speech (Koelsch) Rhythm and tempo (several…) Emotion (several…) Why is music like this?

3 Origins and definitions of music A definition is necessary –to analytically explain origins Every definition and theory of origins –assumes universals –is ethnocentric

4 Music: A definition (a)an acoustic signal that (b)evokes recognizable patterns of sound, (c)implies physical movement, (d)is perceived as segmented and structured, (e)is meaningful, (f)is intentional wrt (b), (c), (d) or (e), and (g)is accepted by a cultural group

5 Further musical universals Exists in all known cultures Has dedicated brain structures (Peretz) Functions –social (communication, group, identity) –emotional (share/influence states) –religious (gods, spirits)

6 Widespread musical structures  Themes and forms  call-answer (antecedent-consequent)  development (repetition, variation)  Melody  pitch and interval distributions (M2, P8, P5 etc.)  rise-fall phrases  Rhythm  pulse perception/production, entrainment  tempo distributions

7 Origins of music Some theories Extended vocalisation –from speech (Spencer, 1890) –"tumbling strains" (Sachs, 1962) –primate vocalisations (Wallin, 2000) Imitation –Child’s drive to play –Movement, gesture, mimesis (Tolbert, 2001) –Environmental sounds (Cazden, 1951) Survival –mating (Darwin) –training (Roederer) –group survival long-distance communication (Stumpf, 1911) rhythmic work (Bücher, 1896; Hornbostel, 1912)

8 Origins of music Theoretical problems Evolutionary adaptation vs “parasite” Strong emotionality; spirituality, identity Biological basis of structures –rhythm and walking/heartbeat –melody and speech Roles of men vs women What actually happened and why?

9 Origins of music a new scenario 1. Fetus a) environmental sounds and movements b) perception c) classical conditioning d) communication with mother 2. Infant a) transnatal memory b) protomusical sensitivity c) communication with mother / adults d) operant conditioning 3. Child and adult reflective consciousness and culture

10 1. Fetus a) Environmental sounds, movements Internal to mother’s body vocalizations and breathing heartbeat body movements and footfalls digestion All these sounds are repetitive depend on mother’s (emotional) state are muffled (low-pass to about 2 kHz) External sounds Only loud, mid-frequency sound

11 1. Fetus b) Perception Functioning cochlea and vestibule –from weeks –both sound and motion Myelinization of auditory pathways –from weeks –improved neural transmission

12 1. Fetus c) Classical conditioning Pavlov’s dog Parncutt’s fetus Both are examples of perceptual learning (Gibson) without reflective awareness

13 Classical conditioning Pavlov‘s dog neutral stimulusfootsteps unconditioned stimulusfood unconditioned responsesaliva many repetitions conditioned stimulusfootsteps conditioned responsesaliva

14 Classical conditioning of fetus (Spelt 1948; Hepper 1996) neutral stimulusvibration or tone unconditioned stimulusloud noise unconditioned responsefetal movement repetitions conditioned stimulusvibration or tone conditioned responsefetal movement

15 Classical conditioning Parncutt‘s fetus neutral stimulusauditory, tactile, kinesthetic unconditioned stimulusbiochemical unconditioned responseemotional many repetitions conditioned stimulusauditory, tactile, kinesthetic conditioned responseemotional

16 Biochemical correlates of emotion Examples fear –corticosteroids, e.g. glucocorticoids, e.g. cortisol anger –high cortisol, adrenaline –low dopamine, serotonin bonding –oxytocin

17 Placental filtering passes –nutrients and oxygen toward fetus –wastes and carbon dioxide away –fetal steroids since highly lipophilic partly filters out –bacteria, viruses, toxins, drugs –chemicals like alcohol, nicotine, cocaine

18 Brain-blood barrier Protects brain from infection Passes lipid-soluble molecules –O 2, CO 2, ethanol, steroid hormones Steroid hormones include –glucocorticoids incl. cortisol –mineralocorticoids incl. aldosterone –sex steroids androgens estrogens progestagens

19 1.Fetus d) “Communication” with mother Emotion, physical state Physiological and behavioural Survival value: bonding after birth

20 2. Infant a) Transnatal “memory” Babies “recognize” “melodies” heard repeatedly before birth (e.g. Hepper) This is not “memory” but ontogenetic adaptation to prenatal environment phylogenetic exaptation (Buss) –parasitic on prenatal audition/bonding Duration of “memory”: Hepper: a few weeks Lamont: one year?

21 2. Infant b) Protomusical sensitivity Infants are: 1.sensitive to musical structure 2.sensitive to musical emotion 3.more interested in singing than speech Trehub & Nakata (2001) Prenatal perceptual learning model: 1.heart/feet  rhythm, voice  melody 2.sound patterns depend on emotion 3.muffling emphasizes pitch contour

22 2. Infant c) Communication with adults Infant-adult vocal play (motherese) is universal promotes speech acquisition involves meaningful gestures (Papousek) may underlie (musical) ritual (Dissanayake) projects prenatal learning into childhood

23 2. Infant d) Operant conditioning Skinner’s rat Parncutt’s baby Both are examples of perceptual learning (Gibson) without reflective awareness

24 Operant conditioning Skinner: positive reinforcement quasi-random behavior accidentally push lever rewardreceive sugar  increase in frequency of behavior Why does the rat push the lever?

25 Operant conditioning: Motherese quasi-random behavior accidentally create prenatally “familiar” sound patterns rewardemotion  increase in frequency of behavior Why do mother and baby exchange physical/vocal gestures?

26 3. Child and adult Reflective consciousness „Cultural explosion“ (Mithen) kya “conscious” use of symbols –painting, body decoration social organisation –migration, ritual (e.g. burial)  Music as deliberate creation of emotional sound patterns

27 The origins of music 3 stages A = adaptation, E = exaptation (parasite) 1. Fetus: Emotionality of pitch-time patterns A: Prenatal bonding and preparation for language E: Classical conditioning (sound-movement-emotion) 2. Infant: Motherese as protomusic A: Postnatal bonding and preparation for language E: Operant conditioning (sound-movement-emotion) 3. Children and adults: Music as we know it A: Reflective language and consciousness E: Music as deliberate emotional manipulation

28 Thesis Music is exaptive –a parasite on pre- and postnatal bonding preparation for language Music may also be adaptive –trains individual cognitive and motor abilities –promotes social coherence

29 If music has prenatal origins… Implications Music and the body –The body is music’s origin Music and biology –Biology underlies musical structures Music, identity, spirituality –Music is a cultural elaboration of cognitive representation of mother as perceived by fetus


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