The Musical Arms Race

If music affects the brain, it can be used to influence human behaviour. We all know about the reproductive success of musicians, from troubadours to rock bands, about girls tossing their wet panties onto the stage and so forth. Evolutionary theory would suggest that, as with other forms of neural subversion, there will be an arms race between genetically-coded abilities to practice such subversion and genetically-coded abilities to resist it. From this it would seem to follow that our music must be much more effective than it was, but that our countervailing resistance will also be more effective. This suggests in turn that if a modern travelled back in time, the music of ancient ages would have little influence on him, whereas if anyone from those days could travel to the present, even elevator music might reduce him to tears.

Posted on December 28, 2011 at 10:51 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Cause and Effect Of Brain Damage

2 Responses

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  1. Written by urban
    on December 28, 2011 at 20:55

    Not buying this, Hugo. One of the things that drew me to music in the first place was it’s ability to transcend time and space and communicate across centuries and between disparate cultures.

    Before my voice changed I had already fallen in love with the music of both Duke Ellington and J.S. Bach. As different as they are from each other, yes, both. By your reckoning that shouldn’t have happened. Indeed I had discovered Bach through the Cantatas, a sublime body of deeply religious music sung in a language this secular boy didn’t understand then and doesn’t understand now. A couple years later as an adolescent I first encountered Josquin, another milestone in my musical development, and even further removed in time and social context.

    Is mine a freak experience? A mountain of anecdote suggests not. Not everyone listens deeply to music, of course, but among those who do, experiences like mine of a universality in some pieces of music that exists outside of the particulars of their times and places, are commonplace, routine.

  2. Written by Hugo Grinebiter
    on December 28, 2011 at 23:15

    I was thinking of spans of millennia. Bach was yesterday.

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