Community CoCo / U-Topian Rhizome PARTICIPATORY PROMPT: on the co-evolution of language/music
In which we reach out to our community to engage in the making of Collaborative Content beyond our Topic (place-bound) limitations, to invite you to participate Rhizomatically in the conversation/dialogue that happens here on site. Responses will be catalogued and posted in a follow up feature, and potentially (if you are speedy) read from at the event itself.
Please email all responses to firstname.lastname@example.org or respond in the comment section below. Thanks for playing!
What makes human communication different from that of animals? Where does music fit in? How can our poetic or other verbal creation be representative of a more essential form of human communication, reminding us of our linguistic origins?
Tonight, in Brooklyn, Exit Strata and Home Audio are co-hosting a terrific event in which writers, musicians, and a willing, creative audience will address and participate in the “INFINITE COMBINITORIALITY” where human language, animal communication, and music meet.
The description for the event tonight is this:
“We can never run out of new combinations of words to say whatever we want, right (infinite combinatoriality)? Whereas animals are limited to sounding the equivalent of a few words, like monkeys who produce different vocal alarms for different predators such as BIRD! vs SNAKE! (Ok, unless you’re a dolphin, but they’re aliens anyway so that’s a separate debate.)”
“Where does music fit in? Is music closer to animal communication because musical sounds don’t [strictly] convey meaning? What does this imply about the evolution of music? Did it predate language? ”
to which I’d like to add a little more:
In his *incredible* book, Harnessed, cognitive scientist Mark Changizi demonstrates that human speech has been very specifically “designed” to harness the sounds of nature, sounds we’ve evolved over millions of years to readily understand. Long before humans evolved, mammals have learned to interpret the sounds of nature to understand both threats and opportunities. Our speech—regardless of language—is very clearly based on the sounds of nature.
Changizi argues that the most fundamental pillars of humankind are thoroughly infused with signs of the ancestral world… and that those pillars are language and music. Cultural evolution over time has led to language and music designed as a simulacra of nature, so that they can be nearly effortlessly utilized by our ancient brains. Languages have evolved so that words look like natural objects when written and sound like natural events when spoken. And music has come to have the signature auditory patterns of people moving in one’s midst.
Furthermore, he suggests that “if the key to our human specialness rests upon powers likely found in our non-linguistic hominid ancestors, then it suggests we are our non-linguistic hominid ancestors. Our thawed ancestors [might] do just fine here because our language would harness their brain as well. Rather than jumping into a freezer, our long-lost relative may choose instead to enter engineering school and invent the next generation of refrigerator. The origins of language and music may be attributable not to brains having evolved language or music instincts, but, rather, to language and music having culturally evolved brain instincts. Language and music shaped themselves over many thousands of years to be tailored for our brains, and because our brains were cut for nature, language and music mimicked nature. …transforming ape to man.”
Music itself, according to Harnessed, is based on natural sounds. Music—seemingly one of the most human of inventions—is literally built on sounds and patterns of sound that have existed since the beginning of time. …so it’s not surprising how powerfully it effects us. On a… dare I say … super-verbal, pre-verbal, gutteral level? Choose your adjective.
YOUR TASK: write/create poetry/words/a response that is/that are ORIGIN-al or write words that respond to language’s evolution. consider animal sounds, human biological/genomic evolution from and among animals, and consider the evolution of words themselves. if you are so inspired to include or address the glyphic or sonorous/musical nature of that evolution, upload those as well (or you can send them to me via email and I’ll upload them for you.)
ONWARD! We’re excited to see what you come up with.