Music Came Before Language
One of the benefits of individual study is that, after a while it become self-reinforcing: what you learn in one area is reinforced by what you learn in another.
I am reading two books now: The Master and his Emissary and The Sounds of Poetry. The first is mainly about right-hemisphere vs left-hemisphere differences – but it is also about how people in general have degenerated because of increasing left-hemisphere dominance.
One thing you read about frequently in scientific literature is the question “Why is music so important, what hereditary advantage did it have?” His reply is basically “What a dumb question! Its usefulness is perfectly obvious. It just seems baffling to left-hemisphere people.”
I can remember vividly a family night of music in my Grandmother’s house before they had electricity. Kerosene lamps provided the illumination. Everybody took their turns performing. Grandmother played the piano – she had supported herself for many years giving piano lessons. Dad sang, and as I recall he had a fine voice – and also took voice lessons from a local teacher. Grandfather played his harmonica, a skill he was proud of – and he was a very proud man.
When electricity came, the radio came also – and we became passive consumers of music. Prior to this, people always made up their own entertainment. A favorite was ice-skating on the river – which they were very good at. The overall trend was frightening: they were becoming more and more passive.
My other book, The Sounds of Poetry, makes the same point: poetry is a form of music – and originally it was always a performing art. It isn’t hard to see that music and language have common origins. And it isn’t hard to see why it is no longer popular – people have lost interest in something so sophisticated, and only want simple, immediate forms of gratification.
I can take this even further. Our family were Missouri Mormons and originally speaking in tongues Glossolalia was a common event. This was usually followed by someone interpreting the speech for the rest. No one doubted either one.
Glossolalic speech does resemble human language in some respects. The speaker uses accent, rhythm, intonation and pauses to break up the speech into distinct units.
This likely the type of language first used – before the vocabulary and syntax became standardized.
Babies first use this type of language, and mothers automatically change their way of speaking to accommodate them.