[ExI] Music and (no subject)

robot at ultimax.com robot at ultimax.com
Mon Aug 3 19:41:49 UTC 2020

I disagree with the premise, Ben.  Concluding that other species don't 
have music (or specifically a sense of rhythm as you said) just because 
we have not observed them tapping their feet (some of them don't have 
feet) seems awfully anthropocentric to me.

I would not be surprised if we eventually discover that all cetaceans 
and certain songbirds and tropical avians do have music because they 
have such an impressive amount of firmware and wetware for audio signal 
processing.  If on no other grounds than that beings above a certain 
threshold of complexity seem to have a tendency to find "off label" uses 
for their capabilities.  (Hence why I cited Keith's post also.)  Felids 
have an impressive audio range (coming and going), canids even more so.  
For all we know, purring is cat music.  Any blind kitten can distinguish 
its mother's purr from a lot of background.  How about howling?  C'mon!

I would expect that communicating across great distances (relative to 
body length) or building *some* kind of community confers powerful 
advantage and would be selected for.


PS. My ancient lnyx-point Siamese perks up whenever she hears "Jammin'" 
(it's what was playing on the car radio when I brought her home from the 
pound 16-ish years ago), hence her name Marlie.

On Mon, 3 Aug 2020 18:20:52 +0100, Ben Zaiboc <ben at zaiboc.net> wrote, 
and Keith Henson posted separately:
> Why are we the only animals that seem to have a sense of rhythm? Many
> animals make noises of various kinds, sometimes even rhythmic sounds,
> but you never see a group of animals getting into a groove the way
> humans do.
> I've never seen a dog tapping its paw or nodding along to a piece of
> music, and even birds that seem to be doing this are oddities (and I
> suspect they're not really doing this at all, but just mimicking
> humans), and on their own. There's no other species that has a musical
> sense, that I know about. The odd thing is, I can't see any advantage
> that it confers, and even if it is a spandrel, as John suggests, what
> other advantageous trait could it be a result of? I can't think of
> anything. So where did it come from? Even other primates don't seem to
> have anything approaching it. Are there any documented instances of a
> bunch of chimps banging sticks on trees in a coordinated (and
> infectious) way, for instance? Anything like that? Even co-ordinated
> dancing? I've not heard of any.
> Any ideas?


> Date: Mon, 3 Aug 2020 11:42:34 -0700
> From: Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com>
> To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
> Subject: [ExI] (no subject)
> I know of no other way for the trait of being susceptible to religion
> to come about except evolutionary selection.  If you can think of any
> other way we got this trait, I would be very interested.
> Music is not hard to explain.  It seems to be a side effect of
> speaking and bilateral symmetry of the brain.
>> the most abstract of all the arts. It could
>> be that neither confers an advantage to individuals or to groups of 
>> any
>> sort, they could be evolutionary spandrels, byproducts of other traits 
>> that
>> do confirm an advantage.
> That's what I think, and I strongly suspect that the trait comes from
> the same selection that gave us the psychological mechanism for wars.
> Keith

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