Music: Brains or Biology?

Researchers debate whether music is a biological necessity or a human invention.(Photo: Brandon Giesbrecht (Flickr))
Researchers debate whether music is a biological necessity or a human invention.(Photo: Brandon Giesbrecht (Flickr))

Did our brains invent music, or did our biology evolve us into musical beings?

Two psychologists grappled with these questions in a conversation published recently in The Atlantic.

Gary Marcus, professor of psychology at New York University and the author of Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning, argues that music isn’t “wired into our genome,” but rather is something humans have crafted, a “cultural product.” Geoffrey Miller, professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico and author of The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature, argues that humans share a natural affinity for music that has been biologically selected for through the ages.

What do you think? Are we biologically wired for music, or did human beings produce it, among other products, from the context of and stimulated by the cultures in which we’ve lived?

Read more: Did Humans Invent Music? (Atlantic)

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