Why Do People Sing? Music in Human Evolution

 
9789941401862: Why Do People Sing? Music in Human Evolution

This book is dedicated to the research of the evolutionary origins of human music. The book consists of four chapters. The first chapter, Singing Alone and Singing Together: Monophony and Polyphony is a concise, country-to-country, region-to-region review of the world s musical cultures, including both solo and choral singing traditions. The second chapter, Singing in Human Cultural History, is dedicated to the methodology of the comparative study of several singing styles and the search for the stable and mobile elements of musical language. The general conclusion is that choral singing is a very ancient phenomenon which is gradually disappearing all over the World. The third chapter, Music and War, is dedicated to the search for the evolutionary function of music in human and hominid prehistory. After a detailed review of the existing models of the music origins from the ancient times until today, a new model of the origin of music is then suggested. The new hypothesis is based on the model of Audio-Visual Intimidating Display to defend hominids from ground predators, to assist them in scavenging and also in confrontations with competing hominid groups. Special attention is paid to the factor of environmental change (from arboreal to terrestrial life) in terms of the origins of human singing behavior. The ability of synchronous group rhythmic singing to transfer humans into the altered state of consciousness, a neurologically induced specific state, a Battle Trance, where humans do not feel pain and fear, is discussed. The transformation of individual humans into a unit of warriors religiously dedicated to a common goal is suggested as the primary evolutionary function of music. The formation of human morphological and behavioral features in light of the suggested model is analyzed. Apart from singing, such universal human behaviors as humming, body painting and dancing are also discussed. The fourth chapter, Singing and Thinking, discusses the links of human singing behavior with cognitive processes (intelligence, language, speech). The ability of asking questions is suggested to be the defining element of human intelligence (as none of the trained apes in human-led experiments ever asked questions). Unlike a popular view of considering asking questions as a syntactic structure, the author suggests it is primarily a cognitive phenomenon. Such widespread human conditions as stuttering and dyslexia are also discussed in the light of the suggested model. The altered state of consciousness induced by rhythmic music and movements is discussed in the light of the human ability to go into hypnosis, and having two personalities in one brain is seen as an evolutionarily useful phenomenon. In Conclusions and Perspectives the aposematic (warning display) model, suggested in this book, is compared to the sexual selection model of human origins, and the phenomenon of ritual confrontation in humans and the animal kingdom in order to avoid direct violence and confrontation is analyzed (including discussion on the alternative function of the peacock tail). The book also contains 16 color photos, representing groups of singers from several regions of the World. The book was written on request from a Japanese publisher ARC Publishing, after hearing the presentation made by Joseph Jordania during the award ceremony of the Fumio Koizumi Prize, which Joseph Jordania was awarded for the recognition of his contribution to systematic analysis of folk polyphonies of the world, proposing a new model for the origins of traditional choral singing in the broad context of human evolution. Japanese publisher gave Joseph Jordania exclusive rights to publish this book in any other languages. The Japanese version is coming out in 2011. Now there are discussions about Russian version as well.

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About the Author:

Joseph Jordania is an Australian-Georgian award-winning ethnomusicologist and evolutionary musicologist. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Music at the University of Melbourne, Professor, Head of the Foreign Department of the International Research Centre for Traditional Polyphony at Tbilisi State Conservatory, and is known for his model of the origins of human choral singing in the wide context of human evolution. He is one of founders of the International Research Centre for Traditional Polyphony in Georgia in 2003. Born in Georgia in 1954, he received PhD in 1982 (from Tbilisi State Conservatory) and Doctor of Music in 1991 (from Kiev State Conservatory). In 1991-1995 he was a Professor of Tbilisi State Conservatory, and in 1988-1995, the Head of the Musical Section of the Centre for Mediterranean Research at Tbilisi State University. From 1995 he resides in Melbourne, Australia, maintaining close professional contacts with his native Georgia and the polyphonic centre. He is a member of ICTM, ESEM, participant (and organizer) of numerous international conferences, the author of four books and over 100 research publications in English, French, Spanish, Georgian, Russian, Finnish, Chinese, Arabian, Bulgarian languages. Jordania s academic interests include the study of worldwide distribution of choral polyphonic traditions, origins of choral singing, origins of rhythm, origins of human morphology and behaviour, cross-cultural prevalence of stuttering, dyslexia and acquisition of the phonological system in children, and the study of the cognitive threshold between animal and human cognitive abilities. His primary expertise is Georgian and Caucasian traditional music and vocal polyphony. From the middle of the 1980s he has performed cross-cultural comparative study of the phenomenon of vocal polyphony and came to the conclusion that polyphony is not a late cultural invention, but rather an extremely ancient phenomenon, designed by the forces of natural selection as part of the defense system for early hominids on the African Savannah. He advocates that natural selection, not sexual selection, was the central force in human evolution, including the evolution of human musical abilities. His 1989 technical book Georgian Traditional Polyphony in an International Context of Polyphonic Cultures (published in Russian) was dedicated to the comparative study of world distribution of vocal polyphonic traditions. His 2006 book Who Asked the First Question? The Origins of Human Choral Singing, Intelligence, Language and Speech was dedicated to the origins of human intelligence and language, articulated speech, stuttering and dyslexia. Jordania also studied the evolutionary function of humming, and the distribution of singing behaviour in animal species in different natural environments. In 2009 Joseph Jordania was awarded the Fumio Koizumi Prize in Ethnomusicology.

Review:

Joseph Jordania s book is a masterpiece of comparative musicology by a person with an amazing knowledge base, and is perhaps the first true work of comparative musicology to emerge for almost 40 years. Having identified where polyphonic singing exists throughout the world, Jordania uses this information this map to create a story of human migrations that not only explains this pattern but enlightens the origins of language. There is not a single book that I know of that covers even a small part of the terrain of this monumental book. In addition, the argumentation is strong and the book is thoroughly interesting to read. As a co-editor of the book The Origins of Music (2000), I am thrilled to finally see a true work of comparative musicology appear after many decades of neglect. This is the kind of material that people, from psychology to evolutionary biology, need to ponder in order to incorporate music into the emerging picture of human evolution. --Steven Brown, Simon Fraser University, Canada

This book is a great synthesis, that was urgently needed. I totally agree with the main idea of Joseph Jordania about the ancient origins of choral singing and its gradual disappearance. I can testify that even in Africa, arguably the most polyphonic continent of our planet, there are plenty of places where polyphony is either disappearing or becoming a secondary archaism. To my opinion also, there is no evolution from monophonic to polyphonic singing, and I was glad to see that the argumentation of this idea is so strong and logic. --Simha Arom, Emeritus Director of Research, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris, France

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