Steven Jan

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Page Range

pp. 391–472

5 Animal “Musicality” and Animal “Music”

  • Steven Jan (author)
Chapter 5: examines the extent to which certain animals might be understood to possess musicality and music. After a general discussion of creativity in the light of Margaret Boden’s (and others’) ideas, the vocalisations of a number of animal species – certain primates, birds, and cetaceans – are considered in terms of their evolutionary origins, adaptive function, and relation-ship to human music and language. It is argued that the vocalisations of certain birds and certain whales are memetic/musilinguistic in the way that the vocalisations of early humans may have been – there are indeed striking structural correspondences between bird and whale song and human music – and thus these animal species appear to be at the threshold of the music-language bifurcation that occurred in our own species. The implications of this for thought and consciousness in those species are also considered here, revisiting an issue first discussed in Chapter 3 in the context of the relationship between human language and thought.


Steven Jan