The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body
The propensity to make music is the most mysterious, wonderful, and neglected feature of humankind: this is where Steven Mithen began, drawing together strands from archaeology, anthropology, psychology, neuroscience--and, of course, musicology--to explain why we are so compelled to make and hear music. But music could not be explained without addressing language, and could not be accounted for without understanding the evolution of the human body and mind. Thus Mithen arrived at the wildly ambitious project that unfolds in this book: an exploration of music as a fundamental aspect of the human condition, encoded into the human genome during the evolutionary history of our species.
Music is the language of emotion, common wisdom tells us. In The Singing Neanderthals, Mithen introduces us to the science that might support such popular notions. With equal parts scientific rigor and charm, he marshals current evidence about social organization, tool and weapon technologies, hunting and scavenging strategies, habits and brain capacity of all our hominid ancestors, from australopithecines to Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis and Neanderthals to Homo sapiens--and comes up with a scenario for a shared musical and linguistic heritage. Along the way he weaves a tapestry of cognitive and expressive worlds--alive with vocalized sound, communal mimicry, sexual display, and rhythmic movement--of various species.
The result is a fascinating work--and a succinct riposte to those, like Steven Pinker, who have dismissed music as a functionless evolutionary byproduct.
What people are saying - Write a review
Review: The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and BodyUser Review - Clemens Lode - Goodreads
Excellent book about music and language, lots of new ideas :) It makes sense when looking at music as a second seperate branch *besides* language. But I still have to ask the author about the origin ... Read full review
Review: The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and BodyUser Review - Kariann Marti - Goodreads
This was an easy read with enough information to pique one's interest in various linguistic disciplines, but in layman's terms. A fun read. Read full review
The mystery of music The need for an evolutionary history of music
More than cheesecake? The similarities and differences between music and language
Music without language The brain aphasia and musical savants
Language without music Acquired and congenital amusia
The modularity of music and language Music processing within the brain
Talking and singing to baby Brain maturation language learning and perfect pitch
Music hath charms and can heal Music emotion medicine and intelligence
Grunts barks and gestures Communication by monkeys and apes
Singing for sex Is music a product of sexual selection?
The demands of parenthood Human life history and emotional development
Making music together The significance of cooperation and social bonding
Neanderthals in love Hmmmmm communication by Homo neanderthalensis
The origin of language The origin of Homo sapiens and the segmentation of Hmmmmm
A mystery explained but not diminished Modern human dispersal communicating with the gods and the remnants of Hmmmmm