Musilanguage - Model of Music Evolution (Steven Brown)
Thinking about musicking?
The origins, purpose, function, results and value of music
In mid 2006, our Victoria Sings program was scheduled for a large-scale evaluation. While negotiating the form this would take, the contracted experts stated that so little research had been done on the health impacts of group music-making that a significant portion of the project should be devoted to illustrating these effects.
Our Executive Officer, Jon Hawkes, demured; he opined (without really being absolutely sure) that there actually was a huge body of research, perhaps rendered invisible because it occurred across such a wide range of disciplines. His suggestion was rejected, the Victoria Sings evaluation didn't happen (but that's another story), and thus began this section of our website.
(A little diversion: turns out Jon isn't the only one who thinks the point has already been proved; the Arts and Health Working Group in the
We had never really bothered much with research before - the benefits of making music together had always seemed totally obvious to us, and our top priority was to help get it happening more widely, rather than to be able explain why it was so important.
But the world has changed: it's increasingly difficult to raise the dosh without being able to provide 'the evidence'. So, for our own needs, and as an aid to others finding themselves in a similar position, we decided to bring together what we could find of the intersections between music-making and scientific investigation and analysis.
A year and a half later, we are more than a bit overwhelmed at the amount of material we've found (nearly 2,500 entries) - and at a bit of a loss about how to make it useful. Long lists are impressive but not very accessible. Our method has been to record the bare essentials and to link each item to a web source, but even so, it's not hard to imagine the onset of scrolling overload.
We've put our findings together into six sections:
No of items
a hyperlinked glossary of concepts, disciplines, technologies and concerns that, we hope, can function as a navigational tool.
people who have made a significant contribution to our understanding of music, what they do, where they work and how they can be reached.
places where research is happening.
the vehicles of dissemination.
past and future talkfests. Papers presented at these gatherings are often the first indication of new directions. Nothing seems to focus the mind more than putting one's findings in front of one's peers.
We've confirmed the obvious: that scholars, scientists and researchers have been exploring music's biological, physiological and psychological status and effect for ever (Plato was among the early ones and it's never stopped). Of greatest interest to us is that these explorations offer insights into music's socialisation, educational and healthcare applications.
What did surprise us (but on reflection, shouldn't have) was the diversity of disciplines, both within and beyond music, in which serious scientific investigation of music has occurred. We've found ourselves steering a course through:
Music psychology (including evolutionary psychology and emotion psychology)
Music cognition and perception (including neuroscience, neurobiology, brain function and development)
Ethnomusicology (including cultural anthropology)
Musicology and music theory
Infant and early childhood development
Evolutionary biology (including the evolution of language and palaeoanthropology)
At which point, to avoid madness, we had to set ourselves some limits. We decided not to include material arising from the mass of research undertaken as to the social impact of community arts programs in general (this having been copiously documented elsewhere), and to avoid the area of social capital research (also well covered by others).
If all this remains overwhelming, you might like to browse just the most recent new research and reports that we've come across.
Or, you could check out the Music Council of Australia's Guide to Australian Research. This is a good place to find useful summaries and links.
This page contains 2,497 entries (most recently added to,