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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. Contents of talk. What is a “good” theory? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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

  • The Origins of Music (OoM) Comparative evaluation of competing theoriesRichard ParncuttUniversity of Graz, Austria

    International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC), Seattle USA, 23-27 August 2010SysMus Graz

  • Contents of talk What is a good theory?What is music? Pitfalls to avoidSelected OoM- theoriesSystematic evaluationsMotherese

  • A good theory is...simple parsimonious, falsifiablegeneral accounts for range of phenomenaconcrete clearly defined terms, processeslogical clear argumentempirical observation-based, ecologicalseminal inspires new approaches

    Ockham Kuhn Popper Gibson

  • A good theory of a complex phenomenon...focuses on striking, universal aspects (the wood)neglects specific detail (the trees) ( 0)

    focus on musics mainfunctionsemotionsstructuresBisham (2009): musics design features(Is music a unitary phenomenon or a Western construct?)

  • 1. Social functions of musicMusic is an...interpersonal framework for synchronous and group affective interaction (Bisham, 2009)

    Participants...share convergent intersubjective endstates

    Music...promotes conformity, integration, altruismenables coordinated action and change

  • 2. Music and emotion Juslin & Sloboda...pleasure underlies musical motivation (Schubert, 2009; Vusst & Kringelbach, 2009)

    spirituality (Gabrielsson & Lindstrm Wik, 2003) dissociation from earthly reality (Schubert, 2009)

    Music can evoke...all emotions strong emotions changed states

    What is great about great music? It moves us emotionally! ...awe-filled... sublime... biologically rooted social-emotional feelings (Panksepp, 2009)

  • 3. Music-structural universalsMelody: like speech in...pitch range, interval sizes, tone and phrase durations

    Rhythm: tempo range like footsteps & heartbeats;movement character (multimodality);beat induction, entrainment (Honing, Patel, Merker)

    Form: repetition, call-response, motivic development

  • A definition of musican acoustic signalevokes recognizable patternsimplies physical movementmeaningfulintentionalaccepted by a cultural group not lexical (not language)A good theory should explain all this!

  • Constructing OoM theories:Pitfalls to avoid Arbitrary focusWesternevolutionary

    Researchers backgroundexperienceexpertise

  • Pitfall 1: Western classical focusShould we explain... major-minor tonality?Great Composers?

    Or rather...hunter-gatherer rituals?shamanic ceremonies?garage bands?iPod experiences?

  • Pitfall 2: Evolutionary focusNot 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 adaptationgroup function group survival?

    Just so stories in evol.psychol.with little behavioral, genetic, neuro support (Huron, Panksepp)

  • Pitfall 3: Experience biasClimate changeIf I dont experience it, its a lie

    Personal experience of music If I perform for sex, everyone doesIf I am gifted, giftedness exists

  • Pitfall 4: Expertise biasEmphasize aspects of problem that correspond to ones own expertise

    e.g. I do psychoacoustics auditory scene analysis is centralASA is pleasurableASA is origin of music

  • Musical origins or prerequisites?Prerequisites include:physiologyvocal tract, fast neural processing...(e.g. Fitsch, Nishimura, Lieberman)psychologyreflective language, theory of mind...(e.g. Livingstone & Thompson, 2009)latent abilitiesability to synchronize to a beat(e.g. parrot Snowball Patel)

    An origin is a behavior similar to music mechanisms, motivations, structures

  • Six theories of originsbehaviors that are similar to musicAnimal behaviorsPleasure seekingMate attractionTraining SocializingMotherese

  • Grades for OoM theoriesSystematic evaluation of performance on various tasks final grade

    Weighting of tasks and final evaluation are subjective

    GradeABCDEEvaluation brillgoodokscrapesorryContribution to OoMlargemediumsmalltinyzero

  • 1. Non-human animal behaviorsExamples:singing (birds, whales, gibbons) territorial marking (wolves...)synchronous chorusing (chimpanzees)

    For: may explain unconscious drivesAgainst: isolated, impoverished skills

    Can account for musics...functions: yes (but not intentionality)emotions: yes (but not spirituality)structures: yes (but not their complexity)

    Grade: C

  • 2. Non-adaptive pleasure seeking(Pinker, 1997; cf. Huron, 2001-2010)Uses multiple existing neural systems: motor, ASA, language, social, aggression...

    Counterevidencebased on accident could go in the wrong directionmusicians do not get addicted and suffer withdrawal

    Accounts for musics...functions: noemotions: yesstructures: noGrade: D

  • 3. Mate attractionDarwin (1871), Miller (2000)Evidence: more male than female musiciansmore creative when sexually active

    Counterevidence: no gender difference in music abilitieshumans are smarter than peacocks

    Accounts for musics...functions: yesemotions: yesstructures: no (peacock colors are arbitrary) Grade: C

  • 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, coordinationlistening 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

  • 5. SocializingRoederer (1984), McNeill (1995), Brown (2000)Freeman (2000), Cross (2009), Huron (2001)....Evidence:Human rituals (church, soccer...) achieve convergent emotional states, socio-affective confluence (Bisham)Primate grooming time increases with group size (Dunbar)

    Accounts for musics...functions: yesemotionsyes: pleasureno: spirituality, strong emotionstructures: maybeGrade: B

  • 6. MothereseDissanayake (2000), Falk (2004)Larger brain + bipedalism earlier birthinfant fragility = atriciality (strong evolutionary argument)more parental care survivalnew, complex infant-mother interaction (difficult since partners are very different)

    Accounts for musics...functions: yesemotions: yesstructures: yes

    Grade: A

    May also account for...reflective languagetheory of mindall arts

  • From motherese to 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

  • From motherese to musicIt 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)

  • Infant musicalitye.g. many studies by Trehub and collaboratorsSensitivity to...melodic contour; relative pitch/durationspecific musical intervals (e.g. fifths)changes in unequal scales/rhythms+ pulse (Winkler et al., 2009; Phillips-Silver & Trainor, 2005)

    These are predispositionsevident in infancy, before they have obvious utility(Trehub, 2001)

  • Utility of infant musicality(Parncutt, 2009, 2010)Adaptations: prenatal audition, motherese1 million years = 50,000 generations

    Byproduct: music100,000 years = 5,000 generations

  • Origins of infant musicalitytwo possibilitiesGenetic (Trehub)selection for music (mate attraction, training, social glue, motherese)

    Learned (Parncutt)prenatal exposure to changing maternal sound, movement and hormone levels

  • Why is motherese not accepted as an OoM?Motherese is not musicno practice-based expertiseno audience (private, active)

    Link to music is not...evolutionary (out of fashion!)documented (no data!)

    (but competing theories have similar problems!)

    Portrays women as musically activeContradicts a pervasive cultural stereotype

  • Is OoM research sexist?an academic question not moral, ethnical or politicalEvidence: 1. Popularity of mate attraction hypothesis (Darwin)...although male & female music abilities do not differ!

    2. Neglect of motherese hypothesis (Dissanayake) ...although no other theory satisfies all major criteria!

  • In efficient hunter-gatherer societies, men and women have different roles in reproduction and survival

    sexism is naturalwe are all sexistSexism and evolutionary theory

  • Sexism and social psychologyBearman et al. (2009)Study of conversations: 45 pairs of female friends

    Analysis by categories of internalized sexism:assertions of incompetence (powerlessness)competition between womenconstruction of women as objectsinvalidation or derogation of women

    Result: On average, one such statement per minute

    both men and women are sexist

  • Great music was composed by white malesPhilosophical explanation (Kant): The female mind comprehends...beauty: small, curved, soft, gentle, delicatebut not sublimity:

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