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A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity by Gary Tomlinson

By Gary Tomlinson

What is the beginning of tune? within the previous couple of many years this centuries-old puzzle has been reinvigorated via new archaeological proof and advancements within the fields of cognitive technology, linguistics, and evolutionary idea. during this path-breaking booklet, popular musicologist Gary Tomlinson attracts from those parts to build a brand new narrative for the emergence of human tune. beginning at a interval of human prehistory lengthy earlier than Homo sapiens or tune existed, Tomlinson describes the incremental attainments that, via altering the communique and society of prehumen species, laid the root for musical behaviors in additional fresh instances. He lines in Neandertals and early sapiens the buildup and improvement of those capacities, and he information their coalescence into sleek musical habit around the final hundred millennia.

But A Million Years of song is no longer approximately tune on my own. Tomlinson builds a version of human evolution that revises our knowing of the interplay of biology and tradition throughout evolutionary time-scales, hard and enriching present versions of our deep historical past. As he tells his tale, he attracts in different rising human qualities: language, symbolism, a metaphysical mind's eye and the ritual it supplies upward thrust to, advanced social constitution, and using complex applied sciences. Tomlinson's version of evolution permits him to account for far of what makes us a special species on the earth at the present time and offers a brand new method of figuring out the looks of humanity in its sleek form.

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It makes little sense to specify a single selective environment, however complex, for a behavior that, like musicking, involves many cognitive functions bespeaking long, varied, and piecemeal development. As the emergence of the vertebrate eye needs to be understood as a series of evolutionary events rather than a single adaptation selected for the purpose of seeing, so it is at best implausible that the overwhelming intricacies of musical neural networks could result from one selective episode.

Richerson and Boyd’s social information is conceived differently by coevolutionists Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb. They discern four types of information in the biosphere, genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, and symbolic, each with its own mechanisms of transmission. indd 37 12/15/14 5:04 PM A MILLION YEARS OF MUSIC learning of social animals and the intergenerational transmission that for Boyd and Richerson defines culture. Behavioral information can alter selective landscapes, entering into coevolutionary interaction with the genome, its epigenetic alteration, and — in humans — symbolic culture.

The first is that they result from “mental templates” held by the knappers and reflect shared cultural norms. The second is that their shapes were an unintended result of a knapping procedure and the use life of the artifact and have no implications for culture or cognition. . Neither of these stances appears tenable. 5 To trace the history of this gathering uncertainty among archaeologists is to entertain some of the most provocative conceptions of pre-sapient hominins to emerge over the last twenty years.

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