Musical Animals

in The Music between Us

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780226333281
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226333274 | DOI:
Musical Animals

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According to Aristotle, human beings are essentially rational animals, but he also acknowledged the importance of music in human life. Although Aristotle did not elaborate how musical other species are, his inclusion of some animals among the musical raises the question of how universal music might be. Can musical universality be extended to animals? This chapter considers the extent to which musical universality, in the sense of music's ubiquity, might extend not only to all human beings but also to some species of animals. It argues that some animal sounds might be music, including the sounds made by whales, songbirds, and gibbons, first looking at the creationist debate over music, which concerned the question of whether or not music was part of humanity's original endowment from God. The chapter then discusses examples showing the musicality and musical creativity of animals such as dogs. Many criteria of human musicality, such as melody, scales, capacity for musical experience, intelligent design, aesthetic pleasure, involvement, and expressiveness, are also applicable to animals.

Keywords: Aristotle; music; animals; humans; animal sounds; animal music; musicality; musical creativity; intelligent design; melody

Chapter.  8303 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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