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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2006 :  14:43:26  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
This Reuters article from CNN.com tells of an archeologist's admittedly difficult quest to reconstruct the alleged music and dance of our ancient Neanderthal cousins.




An artist's impression of a Neanderthal
quote:
Cave raves may link music and speech

Tuesday, May 30, 2006; Posted: 11:49 p.m. EDT (03:49 GMT)

READING, England (Reuters) -- It was a dark and stormy night, and in a cave in what is now southern France, Neanderthals were singing, dancing and tapping on stalagmites with their fingernails to pass the time.

Did this Ice-Age rave-up happen, perhaps 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, on a cold night in the Pleistocene Epoch? Or is it purely a figment of the imagination of Steven Mithen, professor of early prehistory at the University of Reading in England?

Impossible to know, Mithen, 45, readily admits, but in his book, "The Singing Neanderthals", he has built a strong case that our hominid ancestors had a musical culture, and a rudimentary form of communication that went with it, that has left traces deeply embedded in modern mankind.

Why else, for example, would music have universal appeal and such a strong pull on the human psyche? Why, when we hear music, do we feel the need to tap our feet, or dance?

Why do we think some passages of music paint pictures, or instruments have "conversations" with each other? Why indeed.

In the book, published last year in Britain and this year in the United States, Mithen attempts to re-create -- against all odds -- a "soundscape" of pre-history and plug what he thinks is a huge gap in human knowledge -- the link between language and music.

"Obviously, I'm trying to address a sort of impossible topic. I mean, how stupid for an archaeologist to write about music because you can't hear anything in the past," Mithen, who is also involved in more conventional projects like digs in Scotland, said in an interview at his university office.

"So I'm trying to draw on as many sources of evidence as possible and some are more tenuous and more controversial than others, but you put them together and you make an argument about how music and language evolved."

He rose to the challenge, he writes in his preface, because "the propensity to make music is the most mysterious, wonderful and neglected feature of mankind".

Mithen is not the first to tackle the musical nature of prehistoric man, and music's links to language, but he's one of the most industrious. He spent two years thinking about the book, nine months writing it and his end notes run to 80-plus pages.

To make his case, he draws on everything from scans of the human brain, studies of music and language ability in people who have suffered brain damage, skeletal remains of prehistoric hominids -- and his own imagination.

He argues that Neanderthals, as well as some other, early hominids, developed a form of communication he refers to by the acronym "HMMMMM" -- standing for "holistic, manipulative, multi-modal, musical and mimetic".

In brief, it means prehistoric man or woman used phrases, a modern example of which is the almost universal expression of distaste "yuck", to communicate simple suggestions or commands, such as "let's go hunt" or "food to share". The "multi-modal" part refers to the use of body language, which Mithen says hominids were much more attuned to than we are today.

This wasn't language as we know it, in which words are assembled to convey meaning, but was more like a phrase of music. The individual notes mean nothing, but the sound as a whole can touch us to the quick. Or, in the case of Neanderthals, sing everyone to come to supper.

It's a bit of a leap to ask modern readers to accept that our ancestors uttered "holistic" phrases, all traces of which have long since vanished into the ether.

However, Mithen says we still resort to something like this, most notably when mothers talk to babies. It is the cooing and reassuring sounds she makes that count, not the language, since infants at first don't know Chinese from Hungarian from English.

He also remarks on the prosody, rhythm and pitch of modern language, and points out that hominids have shared ancestors millions of years ago, with each other and with apes and other primates, whose grunts and pants also have musical qualities.

A little wistfully, he notes that Neanderthals, despite having a brain even larger than homo sapiens -- the rumbler from the jungles of Africa who would eventually supplant them -- and vocal tracts and larynxes suited to singing or talking, did not make the leap to modern language and became extinct.

. . .





Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.

pleco
SFN Addict

USA
2998 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2006 :  14:51:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
If anything, they country-line danced. Seems logical to me.

by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
Edited by - pleco on 05/31/2006 14:51:56
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Randy
SFN Regular

USA
1990 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2006 :  14:56:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Randy a Private Message
Come on baby l-i-ight my fire.....

"We are all connected; to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, to the rest of the universe atomically."

"So you're made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?"
-Neil DeGrasse Tyson
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Chippewa
SFN Regular

USA
1496 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2006 :  15:52:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Chippewa's Homepage Send Chippewa a Private Message
Toot Whistle Plunk Boom!
quote:
A little wistfully...(Professor Mithen)...notes that Neanderthals, despite having a brain even larger than homo sapiens...and vocal tracts and larynxes suited to singing or talking, did not make the leap to modern language and became extinct.

They were probably doing OK until they voted in Republicans.

Diversity, independence, innovation and imagination are progressive concepts ultimately alien to the conservative mind.

"TAX AND SPEND" IS GOOD! (TAX: Wealthy corporations who won't go poor even after taxes. SPEND: On public works programs, education, the environment, improvements.)
Edited by - Chippewa on 05/31/2006 19:18:40
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pleco
SFN Addict

USA
2998 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2006 :  16:06:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
Even if they could, there was no way they could create this. It is obvious how true evolution is just by the existence of that piece of art/music.

by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2006 :  16:06:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message

Uno dos, one two tres quatro
Hey, Wooly Bully! Watch it now! Watch it!
Yeah it comes! Yeah it comes!
Watch it now or it gets ya!

Matty called Hatty about a thing she saw
Had two big horns and a wooly jaw
Wooly Bully! Wooly Bully! That's right!
Wooly Bully! Wooly Bully! Wooly Bully!

Hatty told Matty
Let's don't take no chance
Let's not be L seven
Come and learn to dance
Wooly Bully! Wooly Bully!
Wooly Bully! Wooly Bully! Wooly Bully!

Watch it now! Watch! Watch! Watch!
Hey! Hey! Right! Right! Right!

Matty told Hatty
It's the thing to do
Get you someone really
Pull the wool with you
Wooly Bully! Wooly Bully!
Wooly Bully! Wooly Bully! Wooly Bully!

Watch it now! Watch! Here it comes!
You got it! You got it!




Wooly Bully

Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2006 :  16:41:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
The Evolution of Dance.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 05/31/2006 16:41:56
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2006 :  17:22:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Sure, why not? The Neandertal Flute:



A musician's take on it:
quote:
INTRODUCTION
and SUMMARY of ESSAY

An ancient bone flute segment, estimated at about 43,ooo up to 82,ooo years old, was found recently at a Neanderthal campsite by Dr. Ivan Turk, a paleontologist at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences in Ljubljana. It's the first flute ever to be associated with Neanderthals and its confirmed age makes it the oldest known musical instrument.

The find is also important for its implications regarding the evolution of musical scales. It's to this latter issue my analysis in this article is addressed. (See full "ESSAY" below.)

And if we have a flute, percussion instruments are easily hypothesized. And perhaps even..... a violin?



Apache Single-String Violin.





"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 06/01/2006 :  11:57:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by pleco

Even if they could, there was no way they could create this. It is obvious how true evolution is just by the existence of that piece of art/music.


I almost clicked that link again. Badger badger badger badger...

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/01/2006 :  12:51:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
I've got to admit that I kept watching the "Badger" animation, waiting to see the end. If you send that link to someone, be sure to tell them to wait for the thrilling conclusion. That's what I did when I sent it to my daughter. She wrote back, "That was cold, Dad!"




Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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