Abstract: What can experiments reveal about the origins of music?

What can experiments reveal about the origins of music?

J H McDermott

Published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol.18(3), pp. 164-168, 2009.

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  • The origins of music have intrigued scholars for thousands of years. In this article I discuss the role of experiments in discussions of these issues. I argue that potentially useful kinds of evidence are those that address the innateness and the specificity of different components of musical behavior. At present there is some evidence for innate influences on music, but little evidence for capacities that are clearly specific to music. Although future experiments could potentially alter this picture, there is currently little unambiguous support for the notion that music is an adaptation.
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