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Chaos & Complex Systems Seminar
The evolution of music from emotional signals
Date: Tuesday, November 17th
Time: 12:05 pm - 1:00 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin (refreshments will be served)
Speaker: Charles T. Snowdon, UW Department of Psychology
Abstract: There have been many attempts to explain the evolutionary origins of music. I will review theories of music origins and take the perspective that music is originally derived from emotional signals in both humans and animals. An evolutionary approach has two components: First, is music adaptive? How does it improve reproductive success? Second, what, if any, are the phylogenetic origins of music? Can we find evidence of music in other species? I will show that music has adaptive value through emotional contagion, social cohesion and improved well-being. I will trace the roots of music through the emotional signals of other species suggesting that the emotional aspects of music have a long evolutionary history. I will show how music and speech are closely interlinked with the musical aspects of speech serving to convey emotional information. I will describe acoustic structures that communicate emotion in music and present evidence that these acoustic structures are widespread among different human cultures and also that similar strictures function to induce emotions in animals. Similar acoustic structures are present in the emotional signals of nonhuman animals. I will conclude with a discussion of music designed specifically to induce emotional states in animals, both cotton top tamarin monkeys and domestic cats.
Host: Sprott
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