[LAU] re Subconscious Affecting Music

Ken Restivo ken at restivo.org
Thu Sep 9 21:41:17 UTC 2010

On Thu, Sep 09, 2010 at 11:37:07AM -0500, Brent Busby wrote:
> On Wed, 8 Sep 2010, Rustom Mody wrote:
>> Cannot help noticing the irony that this comment is on this mailing list [?]
>> I believe that Darwin had great difficulty dealing with music in
>> evolutionary terms:
>> Not the original but what google produces: darwinism cant explain
> [...]
> While I think we're still subject to Darwinian selection, I think humans  
> kind of veered off the map a little bit when we developed our level of  
> sentience and facility for seeing certain things as symbols for other  
> things.  We're probably been at the point for some time now where the  
> reason for our own traits is as much because of past cultural and social  
> things as from natural selection.  Because of that, there will be all  
> kinds of things about humans that Darwinism can't explain.

We have a uniquely weird feedback loop, since, thanks to consciousness, symbol-manipulatiion, and technology, we now direct our own evolution (often for the worse). And now there's memetics, which explain a lot as well.

As for music, even though I'm somewhere between a Daoist and a hard-core atheist, and I don't buy the idea of any kind of anthropomorphic supreme-being gods, I can see a pretty clear evolutionary-musicology explanation why why Bach made such consistently fantastic music.

Whereas other motivations such as professionalism, love of beauty, feelings of inadequacy, greed, great joyful moments, poverty and misery, a need to show off or express oneself, or a deep pain in the soul (the Romantic motivation), might cause one to make outstanding music, and even memetic propagation, they also ebb and wane. There's nothing like the consistent, sustainable dedication that one would obtain by believing that your work is done for the benefit of an all-powerful god. Again, I think that'd pretty clearly explain why Bach's work was so consistently technically perfect. It's not like there not like there was anywhere to hide the flaws that the customer wouldn't be able to see them. In that scenario, you'd have to bring your "A" game every time.  Nothing less would do.


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