Music as Our Soul’s Own Speech

  • Music origin:
    • It is debated whether music is a precursor or epi-phenomenon of language but it’s species specificity and cross-cultural universality in humans is clear and rivaled only by language
    • Evolution of language begets co-evolution of music. “Spandrel” theory: refers to the space accompanying an arch, but I modify it to be like the space created by a staircase, the case is language and the space music; the staircase is the primary structure that naturally makes a secondary structure, each are useful in their own way but require each other to exist. I’d say structure/music and the space/music are both founded on human cognitive complexity and designed in the style of social mammals.
      • The logic is reversible if you prefer music-first approaches.
    • Music evolved then diverged into language from a prior musical communication form. Biological tendency to minimize energy expense should have selected either languange or music; specializing one rather than both. But biological evolution is dynamic and it optimizes as a function of all significant variables, (so the previous sentence is naively stated). and thus anomalous despite long-term tendency. Pure natural selection could yield a consolidating or co-evolving route to what we see today.
      • Music naturally comes from body language and grunts. It is a vestige of proto-language that has re-adapted or co-evolved into a complex cognitive mode and socially functional tool (rather than remain a truevestige)
    • We can logically see how language was for obvious reasons maintained and given resources that let it develop as a distinct and critical survival tool. Less logically, music is pervasive and integrally practiced in it’s own distinguished way despite obvious reasons it be diminished away by cultural or genetic filters as a survival burden.
    • Music must have been favored by natural selection; indirectly or directly (latent influence):
      • Language out-competes music as a tool for efficient and accurate communication between members of a species. This comparison and categorization leave out factors and functions that merit music’s selection. Music must be favored for what it does that language cannot, and in ways that overcome it’s expense (such as enhancing social functions).
      • Music, similar to language, gives pleasure in it’s patterns and rules, as mutually understood by unit members. Where language is loose in pattern and infinite in combinations and information, music is more bound and templated in a way it’s relative redundancy and limitation is what makes music a tool of it’s own. This contrasts with how language requires one expression from one to another to be effective. Language is a variable interaction that individuals unidirectionally perform between moments of individual interpretation in words individually compiled and so has no longevity beyond the moment and only continues as indiosyncratic forms. Accurate reproduction of concepts (for survival or ritual) requires a communication style simplified, redundant, ambi-directional, mutually interpreted and experienced; and so with a consistency only provided by utilizing music. Music and language are more contrasted by communication functions than similar. As societies evolve, music would find more applications and embed permanently in the social dynamics . This is another case for complimentary use of each with no place for music other than as a functional social constituent.
    • Music may have been preserved and maintained by higher order selection processes; indirect but no less powerful. The cognition and sociality of the animals capable of this music-language crossroad may have “unnaturally selected” the evolution for language, music, and their independence with such ease of compatibility. This is an instance where biochemistry becomes evolutionarily unconventional as it becomes so complex it can form a new realm of possibilities (social animals are one thing but when they can arbitrarily behave in ways transcending their base survival strategy, like it’s a safeguard to dabble in exploits of culture). So, human traits were made so complex they interfered with their animal trajectory to transcend biological evolution into cultural evolution.
  • Music and cognition

    • Music is associated with brain regions active during uses of language, but it’s not clear how much is just multi-purposing or a necessary similarity of form and function. The modularity of the brain suggests unique neural systems can be embedded in others.

    • Emotional regions can activate from one measure of music that sentences can’t match in complexity or rate. What else can give pure emotional shivers with little conscious effort, other than music; and I don’t count nails-on-chalkboard. Perhaps, music is a human-animal (or spirit realm) level language we gutturally bellow as humanity’s universal speech.

    • Creativity can be strong in both or just one with language deficits held by composers or literary masters that are tone deaf or musically unaffected. Language and music seem popular ground for savants and dual masters. It’s notable that each needs the same neural suppression (of the brain region associated to inhibition and forethought) to properly improvise music, speak in tongues or make linguistic gibberish, or move sporadically in false spasm;

      • Think about the trance state of shamans (or anyone susceptible) achieved through rhythmic music, chant, and dance. Multiple modes overlap as music and language expand and a visionary state results. Perhaps a higher level of selection favored variance in populations for humans able to defy trance so they can induce trance and use it to arbitrate their basic survival methods.

    • Music can bypass linguistic brain damage, such as in regions involving prosody (stuttering goes smooth if singing) and even memory (ability to pronounce or recall words through song despite linguistic memory loss or motor skill loss), showing possibly a music-language connection neurologically; and in brain functions overlapping or bordered as they live complimentary.

    • Musical therapy is a viable method of psychological and/or somatic alleviation with potential to heal. Vibrational resonance, attentive listening, meditative chants and resonating bowls, the ancient biological and cultural roots of music have potential in therapy. The methods tend to be undeveloped or mystical but they have physical and mental components very real. Perhaps serendipity, wise practitioners, and forms specified to pathology can optimize musical therapy.

    • Since language is primarily how we process human experience, many conscious processes use language modes, so music necessarily does at this minimum. The average person is musical to some degree so I think it’s fair to say music is integrated into the human experience in ways pure to functional as well as fun.

  • Music as human nature:
    • Regardless of any attempts to distinguish and define, music and language are a luxury and super-adaptive tool that distinguishes and defines humans. To say humans are musical and linguistic animals tells us necessarily humans are social creatures(individuals survive relative to the group) with sophisticated brain adaptations ( magnifying individual brains with inter-subjective based sonic manipulations; i.e. talking) influential to their species’ evolution and transcendent of survival norms; likewise making future forms unpredictable and the possible behaviors uncountable before factoring all songs improvise-able, concepts thinkable, thoughts speak-able, meanings decipherable, in forms more or less musical or linguistic.


To summarize:

A journey of chemicals in evolutionary circumstances has transcended both biochemistry and sentience to some higher order realm of complexity where physical law can support avantgarde tangents like musical-linguistic functionality which evolved orderly by means of existential necessity now with applications unnecessary it’s permanence certain as it’s progression uncertain behold the essential luxuries  we utilize with mastery but know with mystery. characteristics not imaginary nor biological fallacy Music and Language are marvels too odd to ignore but too odd to explore.

So odd, so help me God, I’ll bore you with one more then I’ll lock this in a drawer: Neural circuitry based on heredity modifies music and language generationally to evolve it culturally far more than biologically as that is, presently, it’s distinguished place historically and on into be a classic novelty it’s the music-language mystery.


  1. While listening to a random radio station on the drive home from Flagstaff last night, my wife and I found ourselves singing to 1970s songs and remembering special aspects about each song. Individually and together, our memories brought where, when, how, who and with whom each song was special, or not special. Music brings out memories and is like photographs, stored in the brain forever and ready to be brought out at a moment’s notice whether it is planned or hearing it in the background while shopping. Music is the Master of calm for the soul.


  2. I agree with you “music is integrated into the human experience in ways pure to functional as well as fun”. What is more wonderful than listening to music and doing whatever you like doing? It is a great post. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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