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selection pressure underlying scaled/measured music

Dear all,

It was observed by ethnomusicologists that music tends to be either scaled or measured - or both. Percussion music may be not based on musical scales, but it is always subject to an isochronous temporal pulse. On the other hand, nonmeasured music is usually based on musical scales. In my experience, very few percussion pieces that are neither scaled nor measured can be found in Chinese music.

The question is: why are scales and measures (or beats) necessary? Animal acoustic communication appears to differ from music in these two features. What is the selection pressure underlying scaled/measured music of humans?

It is my feeling that scaled/measured music was not selected by humans (whereas golden fishes were selected by humans). Human cultures that did not use music or used nonscaled/nonmeasured music might be unable to survive, because nonscaled/nonmeasured music poses difficulty in synchronous chorusing, which plays a key role in social bonding.
This hypothesis 'co-evolution of human society and music', is similar to the hypothesis 'co-evolution of human brain and language' (Deacon 1997). I guess my idea is not new and perhaps someone can help me to find relevant papers. Thanks in advance.

Deacon, T. W. (1997) The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton.


Tsai, Chen-Gia
Post-doc. fellow
Institute of Applied Mechanics, National Taiwan
University, Taipei, Taiwan

Ph.D., Musikwissenschaft
Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany
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