What Makes Us Musical Animals
Source: Science Daily
In a forthcoming issue of Topics in Cognitive Science researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) argue that at least two, seemingly trivial musical skills can be considered fundamental to the evolution of music: relative pitch -- the skill to recognise a melody independent of its pitch level -- and beat induction -- the skill to pick up regularity (the beat) from a varying rhythm. Both are considered cognitive mechanisms that are essential to perceive, make and appreciate music, and, as such, could be argued to be conditional to the origin of music.
While it recently became quite popular to address the study of the origins of music from an evolutionary perspective, there is still little agreement on the idea that music is in fact an adaptation, that it influenced our survival, or that it made us sexually more attractive. Music appears to be of little use. It doesn't quell our hunger, nor do we live a day longer because of it. So why argue that music is an adaptation? There are even researchers who claim that studying the evolution of cognition is virtually impossible (Lewontin, 1998; Bolhuis & Wynne, 2009).
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