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Language, Music, and the BrainA Mysterious Relationship$
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Michael A. Arbib

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262018104

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262018104.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 24 June 2022

Culture and Evolution

Culture and Evolution

(p.541) 21 Culture and Evolution
Language, Music, and the Brain

W. Ian Cross

Tecumseh Fitch

Francisco Aboitiz

Atsushi Iriki

Erich D. Jarvis

Jerome Lewis

Katja Liebal

Bjorn Merker

Dietrich Stout

Sandra E. Trehub

The MIT Press

This chapter captures extensive discussions between people with different forms of expertise and viewpoints. It explores the relationships between language and music in evolutionary and cultural context. Rather than trying to essentialize either, they are characterized pragmatically in terms of features that appear to distinguish them (such as language’s compositional propositionality as opposed to music’s foregrounding of isochronicity), and those that they evidently share. Factors are considered that constitute proximate motivations for humans to communicate through language and music, ranging from language’s practical value in the organization of collective behavior to music’s significant role in eliciting and managing prosocial attitudes. Possible distal motivations are reviewed for music and language, in terms of the potentially adaptive functions of human communication systems, and an assessment is made of the advantages which might accrue to flexible communicators in the light of ethological and archaeological evidence concerning the landscape of selection. Subsequently, the possible evolutionary relationships between music and language are explored within a framework supplied by six possible models of their emergence. Issues of the roles of culture and of biology in the evolution of communication systems are then addressed within the framework of triadic niche construction, and the chapter concludes by surveying available comparative and phylogenetic issues that might inform the debate. Published in the Strungmann Forum Reports Series.

Keywords:   language–music relations in the brain, evolution of communication systems, evolution of music, evolution of language, propositionality, isochronicity, triadic niche construction

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