27 November 2005

Origins of music on the Tree of Life

this Tree of Life
is just the branching worldline
of that first DNA molecule

swaddled in RNA, protein, and phospholipids

accumulating encoded behaviors
triggerable by
environmental changes

coordinating these behaviors via
and a nerve net

each environmental trigger
and each behavior
to the rest of the nerve-net
a characteristic aspect
symbolised in neural rhythms

rhythms of alarm
of heightened alert
of desire
of contentment

simpler desires at the root of the Tree

becoming subtler as we rise

and when a pattern like alertness
needed to be maintained even when
all external triggers were hidden
(in the underbrush, in the dark)

a sort of neural
to keep your mood focused
would be invaluable

causing that characteristic aspect
to keep repeating
like a rhythmic phrase

from earliest times
among the trigger-patterns of behaviors
were mechanical/acoustic vibrations

varying in frequency and volume

with the ear emerging as
the primary detector

sifting specific triggers
from the welter

and routing them, ASAP
into responsible behavior

abstracting key sonic features
for disambiguation

laying the groundwork for a mapping
from sounds to feelings

among the ear's assignments
detecting others of the same species
was essential for mating purposes

and the sounds those others made
must have corresponded to similar sounds
made by the listener
under comparable circumstances

so variations in these sounds
corresponded to variations
in their shared repertoire
of inner states
(eg thrashing around when frustrated)

which made
projecting yourself into the other's shoes
by mapping their actions onto
your past feelings

and then choosing to make sounds
that the other will interpret
in a specific way

to frighten a competitor
or charm a potential mate

and these sounds also shape
the inner 'tune' you 'whistle'

and if your species
shows mutual assistance
the inner voice you hear
might be the projected voice
of a helpful other

(cf julian jaynes' theory
that ancient humans
heard in their inner ear
their god-boss's voice
urging them against laziness)