“The generic human need to make and listen to music, for instance, might be explained at the level of evolutionary psychology, but the emergence of the classical symphony certainly cannot. In fact, the insistence on finding explanations of cultural difference in terms of biological evolution exactly misses the point of the great evolutionary innovation represented by Homo sapiens, the massive development of non-genetic learning.”
— Bernard Williams
, English moral philosopher, described by The Times as the “most brilliant and most important British moral philosopher of his time.” (1929-2003), Truth and Truthfulness
, Princeton University Press, 2002, p. 28.
“What if we’re not, in fact, meant to have language and music? (…) The reason we have such a head for language and music is not that we evolved for them, but, rather, that language and music evolved—culturally evolved over millennia—for us. Our brains aren’t shaped for these pinnacles of humankind. (…) These pinnacles of humankind are shaped to be good for our brains. (…)
They’d have to possess the auditory structure of…nature. That is, we have auditory systems which have evolved to be brilliantly capable at processing the sounds from nature, and language and music would need to mimic those sorts of sounds in order to harness—to “nature-harness,” as I call it—our brain. (…) Human speech sounds like solid objects events, and music sounds like human behavior. (…)
Being human today is quite a different thing than being the original Homo sapiens. (…) Unlike Homo sapiens, we’re grown in a radically different petri dish. Our habitat is filled with cultural artifacts—the two heavyweights being language and music—designed to harness our brains’ ancient capabilities and transform them into new ones.
Humans are more than Homo sapiens. Humans are Homo sapiens who have been nature-harnessed into an altogether novel creature, one designed in part via natural selection, but also in part via cultural evolution.”
“Q: One of my favorite definitions of time is that time is what stops everything happening at once. I wonder if music is what stops noise happening all at once? (…)
I’m sure when the first abstract paintings appeared, people said, “No figure, no structure,” etc… The point about melody and beat and lyric is that they exist to engage you in a very particular way. They want to occupy your attention.
I wanted to hear a music that could create an atmosphere that would support your attention but still let you decide where it was directed.”
— Brian Eno
, English musician, composer, record producer, singer and visual artist, known as one of the principal innovators of ambient music, in conversation with the novelist David Mitchell, Brian Eno: Success ruins artists
, Salon.com, Oct 1, 2011
Don Campbell on Music
“Music is a holy place, a cathedral so majestic that we can sense the magnificence of the universe, and also a hovel so simple and private that none of us can plumb its deepest secrets. (…)
Yet it is more than all of these things. It is the sounds of earth and sky, of tides and storms. It is the echo of a train in the distance, the pounding reverberations of a carpenter at work. From the first cry of life to the last sigh of death, from the beating of our hearts to the soaring of our imaginations, we are enveloped by sound and vibration every moment of our lives. It is the primal breath of creation itself, the speech of angels and atoms, the stuff of which life and dreams, souls and stars, are ultimately fashioned.”
“Mozart tells us what it’s like to be human, Beethoven tells us what it’s like to be Beethoven and Bach tells us what it’s like to be the universe.”