The Prehistory of Music: Human Evolution, Archaeology, and the Origins of Musicality

ISBN : 9780199234080

Iain Morley
464 Pages
163 x 237 mm
Pub date
Oct 2013
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Music is possessed by all human cultures, and archaeological evidence for musical activities pre-dates even the earliest-known cave art. Music has been the subject of keen investigation across a great diversity of fields, from neuroscience and psychology to ethnography, archaeology, and its own dedicated field, musicology. Despite the great contributions that these studies have made towards understanding musical behaviours, much remains mysterious about this ubiquitous human phenomenon - not least, its origins. In a ground-breaking study, this volume brings together evidence from these fields, and more, in investigating the evolutionary origins of our musical abilities, the nature of music, and the earliest archaeological evidence for musical activities amongst our ancestors. Seeking to understand the true relationship between our unique musical capabilities and the development of the remarkable social, emotional, and communicative abilities of our species, it will be essential reading for anyone interested in music and human physical and cultural evolution.


1. Conceiving Music in Prehistory
2. Implications of Music in Hunter-Gatherer Societies
3. Palaeolithic Music Archaeology 1: Pipes
4. Palaeolithic Music Archaeology 2: Other Sound Producers
5. The Palaeoanthropology of Vocalisation 1: Vocal Anatomy
6. The Palaeoanthropology of Vocalisation 2: The Brain and Hearing
7. Neurological Relationships Between Music and Speech
8. Vocal Versatility and Complexity in an Evolutionary Context
9. Vocal Control and Corporeal Control - Vocalisation, Gesture, Rhythm, Movement and Emotion
10. Emotion and Communication in Music
11. Rationales for Music in Evolution
12. Conclusions

About the author: 

Dr Iain Morley is Lecturer in Palaeoanthropology and Human Sciences at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of St Hugh's College. He teaches human evolution and the evolution of human cognition. Particular areas of interest include the emergence of ritual and religion, Palaeolithic imagery, and the evolutionary origins and archaeology of music.

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