Saturday, April 21, 2012

Is music a result of sexual selection?

Illustration from the article cited.
Yesterday, Tecumseh Fitch — presenting at the SMART Lecture Series of the University of Amsterdam — discussed the likelihood of the sexual selection hypothesis; Darwin’s first guess of why we might have music. Fitch argued that virtually all the available empirical evidence is against that hypothesis, including a recent study by his own group that will come out in PLoS One. And I simply agree (see earlier blogs).

Nevertheless, Geoffrey Miller, author of The Mating Mind, took up Darwin's first guess* and argued that music is one of the things humans successfully use to impress the other. This week Gary Marcus (New York University) and Geoffrey Miller (University of New Mexico) had a discussion on this issue in The Atlantic. You can read it here.

* Darwin had one other suggestion in the 11 pages he wrote on the possible origins of music, but that's a story for another blog. Blute, M. (2003). [Book Review: The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature] The Quarterly Review of Biology, 78 (1), 129-130 DOI: 10.1086/377917

ResearchBlogging.orgDarwin, G. (1871) The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex.London: Murray (p. 878).

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