Music, mind and evolution


The re-emergence of an evolutionary perspective on the human mind over the last decade has resulted in the production of a range of different theories about music's evolutionary origins. Some writers have suggested that music has its evolutionary roots in animal "song", while others have proposed that music is a uniquely human behaviour. Some have argued that music is an evolutionary "by-product", an accident of nature that is inessential to human survival, while others envisage music as central in the evolution of the modem human mind. This paper briefly surveys these competing views and suggests that a proper consideration of the relation between music and evolution can only emerge from an understanding of music's identity in cultural context and its manifestations in early childhood and development; it concludes by reflecting on the nature of evidence for musical behaviours in the archaeological record. © 2001 by the Society for Research in Psychology of Music and Music Education.