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The Origins of Music (OoM) Comparative evaluation of competing theories The Origins of Music (OoM) Comparative evaluation of competing theories Richard

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  • The Origins of Music (OoM) Comparative evaluation of competing theories The Origins of Music (OoM) Comparative evaluation of competing theories Richard Parncutt University of Graz, Austria International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC), Seattle USA, 23-27 August 2010 SysMus Graz
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  • Contents of talk What is a good theory? What is music? Pitfalls to avoid Selected OoM- theories Systematic evaluations Motherese
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  • A good theory is... simple parsimonious, falsifiable general accounts for range of phenomena concrete clearly defined terms, processes logical clear argument empirical observation-based, ecological seminal inspires new approaches Ockham Kuhn Popper Gibson Ockham Kuhn Popper Gibson
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  • A good theory of a complex phenomenon... focuses on striking, universal aspects (the wood) neglects specific detail (the trees) ( 0) focus on musics main 1. functions 2. emotions 3. structures Bisham (2009): musics design features (Is music a unitary phenomenon or a Western construct?)
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  • 1. Social functions of music Music is an... interpersonal framework for synchronous and group affective interaction (Bisham, 2009) Participants... share convergent intersubjective endstates Music... promotes conformity, integration, altruism promotes conformity, integration, altruism enables coordinated action and change enables coordinated action and change
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  • 2. Music and emotion Juslin & Sloboda... pleasure underlies musical motivation pleasure underlies musical motivation (Schubert, 2009; Vusst & Kringelbach, 2009) spirituality (Gabrielsson & Lindstrm Wik, 2003) spirituality (Gabrielsson & Lindstrm Wik, 2003) dissociation from earthly reality (Schubert, 2009) Music can evoke... Music can evoke... all emotions all emotions strong emotions strong emotions changed states changed states What is great about great music? It moves us emotionally!...awe-filled... sublime... biologically rooted social-emotional feelings (Panksepp, 2009)
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  • 3. Music-structural universals Melody: like speech in... Melody: like speech in... pitch range, interval sizes, tone and phrase durations Rhythm: tempo range like footsteps & heartbeats; Rhythm: tempo range like footsteps & heartbeats; movement character (multimodality); beat induction, entrainment (Honing, Patel, Merker) Form: repetition, call-response, motivic development Form: repetition, call-response, motivic development
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  • A definition of music an acoustic signal evokes recognizable patterns implies physical movement meaningful intentional accepted by a cultural group not lexical (not language) A good theory should explain all this!
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  • Constructing OoM theories: Pitfalls to avoid Arbitrary focus Western Western evolutionary evolutionary Researchers background experience experience expertise expertise
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  • Pitfall 1: Western classical focus Should we explain... major-minor tonality? Great Composers? Or rather... hunter-gatherer rituals? shamanic ceremonies? garage bands? iPod experiences?
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  • Pitfall 2: Evolutionary focus Not necessarily evolutionary! there has been curious lack of attention to the possibility that musical origins can be explained without the need to invoke music-specific genes (Livingstone & Thompson, 2009, p. 84) Function adaptation group function group survival? Just so stories in evol.psychol. with little behavioral, genetic, neuro support (Huron, Panksepp)
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  • Pitfall 3: Experience bias Climate change If I dont experience it, its a lie If I dont experience it, its a lie Personal experience of music If I perform for sex, everyone does If I perform for sex, everyone does If I am gifted, giftedness exists If I am gifted, giftedness exists
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  • Pitfall 4: Expertise bias Emphasize aspects of problem that correspond to ones own expertise e.g. I do psychoacoustics auditory scene analysis is central ASA is pleasurable ASA is origin of music
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  • Musical origins or prerequisites? Prerequisites include: physiology vocal tract, fast neural processing... vocal tract, fast neural processing... (e.g. Fitsch, Nishimura, Lieberman) psychology reflective language, theory of mind... reflective language, theory of mind... (e.g. Livingstone & Thompson, 2009) latent abilities ability to synchronize to a beat ability to synchronize to a beat (e.g. parrot Snowball Patel) An origin is a behavior similar to music mechanisms, motivations, structures
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  • Six theories of origins behaviors that are similar to music 1.Animal behaviors 2.Pleasure seeking 3.Mate attraction 4.Training 5.Socializing 6.Motherese
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  • Grades for OoM theories GradeABCDE Evaluationbrillgoodokscrapesorry Contribution to OoM largemediumsmalltinyzero Systematic evaluation of performance on various tasks final grade Weighting of tasks and final evaluation are subjective
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  • 1. Non-human animal behaviors Examples: singing (birds, whales, gibbons) territorial marking (wolves...) synchronous chorusing (chimpanzees) For: may explain unconscious drives Against: isolated, impoverished skills Can account for musics... functions: yes (but not intentionality) functions: yes (but not intentionality) emotions: yes (but not spirituality) emotions: yes (but not spirituality) structures: yes (but not their complexity) structures: yes (but not their complexity) Grade: C
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  • 2. Non-adaptive pleasure seeking (Pinker, 1997; cf. Huron, 2001-2010) Uses multiple existing neural systems: motor, ASA, language, social, aggression... motor, ASA, language, social, aggression... Counterevidence based on accident could go in the wrong direction based on accident could go in the wrong direction musicians do not get addicted and suffer withdrawal musicians do not get addicted and suffer withdrawal Accounts for musics... functions: no functions: no emotions: yes emotions: yes structures: no structures: no Grade: D
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  • 3. Mate attraction Darwin (1871), Miller (2000) Evidence: more male than female musicians more male than female musicians more creative when sexually active more creative when sexually active Counterevidence: no gender difference in music abilities no gender difference in music abilities humans are smarter than peacocks humans are smarter than peacocks Accounts for musics... functions: yes functions: yes emotions: yes emotions: yes structures: no (peacock colors are arbitrary) Grade: C structures: no (peacock colors are arbitrary) Grade: C
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  • 4. Training (Roederer, 1984) Children play with music (in times of bounty and safety) to train survival skills (in times of shortage and danger) performance, dance physical skills, coordination listening cognitive skills, language Doubts: Does this kind of training really promote survival? Is there a Mozart effect? Accounts for musics... functions: no (individual) emotions: only pleasure (not all, strong, spiritual) structures: maybe Grade: C Grade: C
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  • 5. Socializing Roederer (1984), McNeill (1995), Brown (2000) Freeman (2000), Cross (2009), Huron (2001).... Evidence: Human rituals (church, soccer...) achieve convergent emotional states, socio-affective confluence (Bisham)Human rituals (church, soccer...) achieve convergent emotional states, socio-affective confluence (Bisham) Primate grooming time increases with group size (Dunbar)Primate grooming time increases with group size (Dunbar) Accounts for musics... functions: yes functions: yes emotions emotions yes: pleasure no: spirituality, strong emotion structures: maybe structures: maybe Grade: B
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  • 6. Motherese Dissanayake (2000), Falk (2004) Larger brain + bipedalism earlier birth infant fragility = atriciality (strong evolutionary argument) more parental care survival new, complex infant-mother interaction (difficult since partners are very different) (difficult since partners are very different) Accounts for musics... functions: yes emotions: yes structures: yes Grade: A Grade: A May also account for... reflective languagereflective language theory of mindtheory of mind all artsall arts
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  • From motherese to music motherese infant memory* play**ritual**music * Long-term multimodal recognition memory for repeated, emotional patterns of sound and movement ** In play and ritual, behaviors similar to motherese evoke motherese feelings are reinforced by operant conditioning
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  • From motherese to music It is not surprising that societies all over the world have developed these nodes of culture that we call ceremonies and rituals, which do for their members what mothers naturally do for their babies: engage their interest, involve them in a shared rhythmic pulse, and thereby instill feelings of closeness and communion. The inborn propensities for imitation, reciprocity, and emotional communion in infancy have become further elaborated and used in ritualized and ceremonial forms that themselves build and reinforce feelings of unity among adults, all of which ultimately serve to hold the group together. ( Dissanayake, 2000, p. 64, cited by Davies)
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