Posted in biology, communication and networking, education, medical imaging, Optics

The evolutionary impacts of song

To add more fuel to the “who owns music” fire, I’ve been collecting some tidbits on just how important music is to all animals.

Singing and music has been around since as long as we can determine. Some Neanderthal artifacts found can best be described as flutes or music makers.

Frogs, mice, and other animals, will sing to try and win a mate (whales do so with different regional dialects). Frogs can also tune their ears to ultrasonic frequencies to listen for different songs.

But singing and rhythm are not just things used to impress the ladies. Songs with a strong beat have been used by soldiers to march in step together and sailors to pull ropes in unison, or whatever else they needed to do at the same time. According to one survey, 90% of humans can sing, i.e. they are not completely tone deaf , and of the 10% who are, many of them recognize the right notes but just can’t quite create them. It is also easier for humans to remember things if they rhyme or have a rhythm or pattern to them.

Music soothes, agitates, or depresses people. Music is pretty powerful stuff.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.