December 13, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Monkeys Have No Ear for Music

Consonance and dissonance have no meaning to monkeys, studies have shown.  Nature Science Update reported on experiments on cotton-top tamarins showing that, unlike humans, they do not find consonant tones more pleasing than dissonant ones.

“If you want to look at the evolution of music it’s important to do these types of studies,” says Laurel Trainor, a neuroscientist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. She adds that this research supports the idea that humans have a special preference for consonance, one of the most basic structural elements of music.  This could account for the fact that as far as we know, only humans produce songs simply for enjoyment, she says.

How this accounts for the dissonance in pop music among humans was not explained, but the report suggests that “musicality may be restricted to humans alone.”

   Cotton-top tamarins may resemble some youth of today, but without literature, semantic language, music or art, it looks like their monkey culture is pretty undeveloped.  They might relate to rap, which is more on their level, but even the Monkees seems too highfalutin for their taste.
    Listen to a symphony orchestra, or watch any group of talented musicians play finely-crafted instruments or sing, and ask yourself where is any evidence that music evolved from our primate ancestors.  Trainor should have said, “If you want to disprove the evolution of music, it’s important to do these types of studies.”  Only humans make true concordant music and only humans appreciate it.  Music is one of those things that humans don’t need for survival, but just enjoy.  It is a gift of God.  Let every heart prepare Him room, and heav’n and nature sing.

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Categories: Human Body, Mammals

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