Topics in Musical Universals/Actualités des Universaux Musicaux pages:29-42
Music is a universal phenomenon. There is music of some form in every human culture, but what is universal in the musics of the world? Should we conceive of universals of music that are embedded in the structure of the music or do they refer to universals of processing by the listener? There is empirical evidence for both claims, but this contribution will focus primarily on the latter with as major question what it means to hear a piece of music. There are cognitive structures that can be constructed in response to the music and which determine the listener’s understanding of the music (Jackendoff & Lerdahl, 2006). There are, however, some relatively unchanging biological processes of aural perception in discovering patterns of sound which are more universal. Taking full advantage of current developments in Darwinian anthropology (Durham, 1991), evolutionary psychology (Barkow, Cosmides & Tooby, 1992) and gene-culture coevolutionary theory (Feldman & Laland, 1996, Lumsden & Wilson, 1981), it is shown that at least some mechanisms of musical sense-making rely on genetics rather than on culture.