Music plays a big part in everyday life, but what is it exactly? When does sound become music, how does it relate to language and what might be its evolutionary function? For their upcoming concert Jens Maurits Orchestra is in search of all the triggers and thresholds that had to be overcome for music to arise. This blog is an archive for this research.
Feel free to dive in!
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Some years ago a video in which a cockatoo named Snowball dances to the Backstreet Boys injected new life into discussions about music, dance and what separates man from other animals. In reaction to the video Professor A. D. Patel said to the New York Times that "his jaw hit the floor" because for him it was like seeing "a dog reading out loud."
This got us thinking: Isn't the animal kingdom full of dance and music? In what way is Snowball's 'dancing for fun' different from that of a paradise bird? What separates the gorilla's drumming on the chest from what Jens does behind his drums?
Scientists define the capacity for music as at least including what they call beat induction: the ability to respond to music (from an external source) in the form of synchronized movements. Beat induction was long supposed to be a uniquely human attribute, an asset that, together with language and consciousness, separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, but seeing Snowball dance seemed to contradict this hypothesis.
We found out that there are many different ideas on what role music played in evolution, and just like the debate about whether Snowball was really dancing or not, we continued searching, so far without an end in sight.
We decided that for our new concert we wanted to investigate different theories on music and how it relates language, memory and consciousness. With the help of philosopher Caszimir Cleutjens, Zoologist Jolle Jolles and other scientists, philosophers or troubled minds, we will use this blog to keep you updated with our findings.
The posts are classified under five categories and their matching colours:
subjects that crusade history from the Big Bang to the funkiest of primates
physical processes, underlying or necessary for us to be, not to be - to hear, not to hear - to shake, to break
subjects questioning the abscence of musical talent or interest of other (social) species
psychological issues that would involve our musical needs & deeds
any of the previous translated to something new, bizarre & possibly addictive