A Brief Email Exchange on the Origins of Music

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2014

In anticipation of our first meeting, on October 16, 2014 (which will focus on prehistory), Christopher kindly emailed to the group the following video clip — amazingly preserved from the Neolithic era!

*

This prompted Sasha to share with the group a book she had read that more seriously discusses the origins of music. She wrote:

….according to the book “The Great Animal Orchestra” by Bernie Kraus (Mills Music Grad),
human music originated from the sounds of animals.

So too language. Considering birds appeared well over 100 million years ago, and squirrels (they are chatty too), 50 million, seems like a likely theory. We were relatively silent in comparison to our nonhuman neighbors.

Ahh, how far we’ve come.

~Sasha P

I answered this with another email:

In David Abram’s book “Becoming Animal” he has an extended meditation on how closely tied we primates are — evolutionarily — to birdsong.

Think of how important it was to hear nearby birds fall silent when a predator approached. Or to know the differences between their courtship songs or call-and-response songs or warnings or distress.

It’s good to think of us feeling that, on some level, when we listen to, say, the harmonica break in “Love Me Do” — “Ahh, that’s a courtship song, ok to relax…”

So much happening to us all the time that comes from our relationship with nature.

 

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