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The Evolving Animal Orchestra : In Search of What Makes Us Musical, Hardback Book

The Evolving Animal Orchestra : In Search of What Makes Us Musical Hardback

Part of the The MIT Press series


A music researcher's quest to discover other musical species. Even those of us who can't play a musical instrument or lack a sense of rhythm can perceive and enjoy music.

Research shows that all humans possess the trait of musicality.

We are a musical species-but are we the only musical species?

Is our musical predisposition unique, like our linguistic ability?

In The Evolving Animal Orchestra, Henkjan Honing embarks upon a quest to discover if humans share the trait of musicality with other animals. Charles Darwin believed that musicality was a capacity of all animals, human and nonhuman, with a clear biological basis.

Taking this as his starting point, Honing-a music cognition researcher-visits a series of biological research centers to observe the ways that animals respond to music.

He has studied scientists' accounts of Snowball, the cockatoo who could dance to a musical beat, and of Ronan, the sea lion, who was trained to move her head to a beat.

Now Honing will be able to make his own observations. Honing tests a rhesus monkey for beat perception via an EEG; performs a listening experiment with zebra finches; considers why birds sing, and if they intend their songs to be musical; explains why many animals have perfect pitch; and watches marine mammals respond to sounds.

He reports on the unforeseen twists and turns, doubts, and oversights that are a part of any scientific research-and which point to as many questions as answers.

But, as he shows us, science is closing in on the biological and evolutionary source of our musicality.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 160 pages, 9 b&w illus.; 18 Illustrations, unspecified
  • Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Music
  • ISBN: 9780262039321



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