The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body

The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body

by Steven Mithen
     
 

ISBN-10: 0674025598

ISBN-13: 9780674025592

Pub. Date: 10/15/2007

Publisher: Harvard

The propensity to make music is the most mysterious, wonderful, and neglected feature of humankind: this is where Steven Mithen began, drawing together strands from archaeology, anthropology, psychology, neuroscience--and, of course, musicology--to explain why we are so compelled to make and hear music. But music could not be explained without addressing

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Overview

The propensity to make music is the most mysterious, wonderful, and neglected feature of humankind: this is where Steven Mithen began, drawing together strands from archaeology, anthropology, psychology, neuroscience--and, of course, musicology--to explain why we are so compelled to make and hear music. But music could not be explained without addressing language, and could not be accounted for without understanding the evolution of the human body and mind. Thus Mithen arrived at the wildly ambitious project that unfolds in this book: an exploration of music as a fundamental aspect of the human condition, encoded into the human genome during the evolutionary history of our species.

Music is the language of emotion, common wisdom tells us. In The Singing Neanderthals, Mithen introduces us to the science that might support such popular notions. With equal parts scientific rigor and charm, he marshals current evidence about social organization, tool and weapon technologies, hunting and scavenging strategies, habits and brain capacity of all our hominid ancestors, from australopithecines to Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis and Neanderthals to Homo sapiens--and comes up with a scenario for a shared musical and linguistic heritage. Along the way he weaves a tapestry of cognitive and expressive worlds--alive with vocalized sound, communal mimicry, sexual display, and rhythmic movement--of various species.

The result is a fascinating work--and a succinct riposte to those, like Steven Pinker, who have dismissed music as a functionless evolutionary byproduct.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674025592
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
10/15/2007
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
207,940
Product dimensions:
(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

1The mystery of music1
2More than cheesecake?11
3Music without language28
4Language without music46
5The modularity of music and language62
6Talking and singing to baby69
7Music hath charms and can heal85
8Grunts, barks and gestures105
9Songs on the savannah122
10Getting into rhythm139
11Imitating nature160
12Singing for sex176
13The demands of parenthood192
14Making music together205
15Neanderthals in love221
16The origin of language246
17A mystery explained, but not diminished266

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