Saturday, November 19, 2011

Musilanguage hypothesis

There is a theory called the Musilanguage hypothesis that states that music and language first developed as one and then separated. Many critics oppose, but to my mind it makes sense in some aspects. Neanderthals may have started with what ever vocal productions they could make and then once they were distinguished as communication sounds and emotive sounds, language and music grew from there.
Let us look at a couple of different aspects of speech that relate to music:
Inflection/intonation: When most people speak, they fluctuate in pitch (unless they are monotone). The most common example in English is that we go up in pitch at the end of a sentence when we are asking a question, and down in pitch when we are saying a statement. This is also reflected in music as well.
Tone: Like they saying goes, "if doesn't matter what you say it's how you say it." Tone of voice can change a sentence from being serious to sarcastic, funny to stupid, etc. Emotion and dramatics could also be in this category and are definitely prominent in music and language.
Yet, there are some aspects of speech like semantics, pragmatics (things that differ beyond their literal meaning, for example: Do you have the time?), and syntax (grammatical rules) that do not have a direct relation to music. How did we acquire these if music and language were formed together? Perhaps that is the reason for their split.
Question: Do you think the Musilanguage hypothesis is valid? Why or why not?

Re: Peter Unconscious rhythm

In his latest post Peter, asked if rhythm is unconscious.
I would say that rhythm is unconscious to an extent. When it comes to intentionally writing a piece of music, rhythm would be conscious. Yet, the unconscious would still play a role. Like Peter pointed out, we had to get those ideas from somewhere. Yet, you are consciously accepting or rejecting the thoughts and ideas that come into your mind. Also, you may have unconsiously altered the the unconscious source of rhythm.
Yes, walking and typing is rhythmic, in fact when students first learned how to use a typewriter (back in the day) they did so to music. Yet, I'll argue that rhythm, whether it be unconscious or from a voluntary thought process, all goes back to organization. In music, rhythm holds everything together and distinguishes the meter. We do not like atonal music because it is not organized. In our daily actions, our brain may very well be rhythmic because that is its way of being organized. Our muscle movements are rhythmic because of the signals they get from the brain and due to the refractory periods between synapses (period before a signal can fire again). That is why we can only move our arms so fast.
To add in a little developmental psychology, rhythmicity is a type of temperament. Temperaments are personality traits that we have starting from birth that are carried out through the rest of our lives (although they may change). A rhythmic infant would be one that gets hungry the same time everyday, has the same nap schedule, and same diaper changing schedule as well. When we get older this tempernment translates to eatting, showering, using the restroom, sleeping around the same time everyday, and scheduling as well. Our daily events are even rhythmic, we make schedules to keep ourselves organized and this also may be due to memory, it is easier to remember to do something if we do it everyday. We even have patterns with in our rhymic activites like the order we do things in. You may brush your teeth before you shower for example. Since rhythm is a temperament this is evidence to the fact that these rhythmic components are at least somewhat innate.
Our biology, machines, and even the revolution of the earth and solar system are rhythmic. Yet what would it be like if they were not? I cannot even imagine. Perhaps we have evolved to be rhythmic in our thoughts, actions, and creations because of the earth's rhythm. Questions: Is that idea farfetched? What events or objects in life are not rhythmic?