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Most of us are involved daily with music in some form, whether we make it ourselves, hear others making it, or are invigorated or oppressed according to taste by its mechanical reproduction in public places. But nobody knows why the human species is in general so attached to music or why it should be such a powerful invoker of mood and memory. Researchers have in various ways been searching for answers to these questions for many years, but it is only recently that they have begun to regard their work as a sub-discipline within the study of music which they have named biomusicology. For example, the Foundation for Biomusicology and Acoustic Ethology was established in Sweden only two years ago. Biomusicologists search for the origins of music in human beings, try to tease out what evolutionary advantage it gave us, study the many kinds of music made by societies world-wide, investigate the ways human communities use music in ritual and in their cultural and social lives, and research how music is perceived in the human brain. It is one of the most cross-disciplinary of topics, and one that is beginning to show some results, as delegates heard during the first international workshop on biomusicology held in Italy in May this year.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.

Page created 21 Jun 1997