Origins of Music

Open Access
Hughes, Andrew Isaac
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Nina G Jablonski, Thesis Supervisor
  • Timothy Michael Ryan, Honors Advisor
  • music
  • biomusicology
  • origins
  • language
  • social cohesion
  • communication
  • adaptationist
Music is a human universal with a deep history. No other creature seems to make music quite like us, yet it seems that music is inseparable from our species. That music is important is unquestionable, but why it is important is harder to explain. Even more difficult is how humans ever began making music and why it has become such an integral part of our lives. In this paper I trace the history of explanations of music’s origins from ancient mythologies to current science, and explain the two current schools of thought involved in the field, the “Non-Adaptationist” school and the “Adaptationist” school, and their arguments. I also explore the relative age of music, the relation of music to language, and, in less detail, the relation of human music to the communication systems of other species, as well as suggesting some possible directions for future research.