Workshop: Anthropological Views on Early Musicality

Session B April 14, 2020

EVOLANG XIII - Workshop - April 14, 2020 - Session B: Anthropological Views on Early Musicality

Send abstract submissions or questions to tedbayne@comcast.net

List of Speakers:

Jerome Lewis, Reader UCL Anthropology. Sub-Saharan Hunter-Gatherer Musicality: A Semiotic Continuum.

Ian Cross, Professor of Music and Science, University of Cambridge. Music in the Human Communicative Toolkit.

Chris Knight, Senior Research Fellow UCL Anthropology. Humour, Wit and Costly Signalling.

Victor Grauer, Ethnomusicologist. Music and Language in Deep History. (via Skype)

Richard Widdess, Professor of Musicology, Department of Music, School of Arts, SOAS University of London. Recursion in music and language: insight from India.

Ted Bayne, Music Evolution: Growth of the Multi-Modal View & the Importance of Field Work

Workshop Description

Scientific consensus favoring the multimodal origin of language is growing. Multi-modal musical forms in extant hunter-gatherer societies (sub-Saharan) are embedded in ritual practice. These practices make moral assertions for the group or address the group’s relation to the natural world, e.g. gender politics or the hunt. Human musicality is quite ancient and because it binds to survival-related culture, it has remarkable persistence. The semiotic relationship between ritual articulation (energetically expensive, virtual, & playful) and individual speech (pragmatic & easy) is an important thread to follow here. Ritual musicality is key to how social memory is preserved and replayed. Musical performance structures show a creative balance between the “We” of rhythmic entrainment and the weaving of “My” autonomous melodic voice into the mix. Group song-dance forms can have a symbolic efficacy at a distance on hunted animals or on pesky spirits that must be beckoned or banished.