Biomusicology is the study of music from a biological point of view. The term was coined by Nils L. Wallin in 1991 to encompass several branches of music psychology and musicology, including evolutionary musicology, neuromusicology, and comparative musicology.[1]

Evolutionary musicology studies the "origins of music, the question of animal song, selection pressures underlying music evolution", and "music evolution and human evolution". Neuromusicology studies the "brain areas involved in music processing, neural and cognitive processes of musical processing", and "ontogeny of musical capacity and musical skill". Comparative musicology studies the "functions and uses of music, advantages and costs of music making", and "universal features of musical systems and musical behavior".[2]

Applied biomusicology "attempts to provide biological insight into such things as the therapeutic uses of music in medical and psychological treatment; widespread use of music in the audiovisual media such as film and television; the ubiquitous presence of music in public places and its role in influencing mass behavior; and the potential use of music to function as a general enhancer of learning."[2]

Whereas biomusicology refers to music among humans, zoomusicology extends the field to other species.

See also


  1. ^ Wallin, N. L. (1991): Biomusicology: Neurophysiological, Neuropsychological and Evolutionary Perspectives on the Origins and Purposes of Music, Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press.
  2. ^ a b Wallin, Nils L./Björn Merker/Steven Brown (1999): "An Introduction to Evolutionary Musicology." In: Wallin, Nils L./Björn Merker/Steven Brown (Eds., 1999): The Origins of Music, pp. 5–6. ISBN 0-262-23206-5.

Further reading

  • Arom, Simha (1999): "Prolegomena to a Biomusicology." In: Nils L. Wallin/Björn Merker/Steven Brown (Eds.), The origins of music, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, pp. 27–29.
  • Darwin, Charles (1871): The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. John Murray: London.
  • Fitch, W. Tecumseh (2006): "The biology and evolution of music: a comparative perspective". Cognition, 100(1), pp. 173–215.
  • Hauser, Marc D./Josh McDermott (2003): "The evolution of the music faculty: a comparative perspective." In: Nature Neuroscience Vol. 6, No. 7, pp. 663–668.
  • Peretz, Isabelle (2006): "The nature of music from a biological perspective." Cognition 100 (2006), pp. 1–32.
  • Wallin, Nils L./Björn Merker/Steven Brown (Eds., 1999): The Origins of Music, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-23206-5.
  • Zatorre, R./Peretz, I. (2000): The Biological Foundations of Music, New York: National Academy Press.

Aleatoricism is the incorporation of chance into the process of creation, especially the creation of art or media. The word derives from the Latin word alea, the rolling of dice. "Aleatory" should not be confused with either improvisation or indeterminacy.


Biomusic is a form of experimental music which deals with sounds created or performed by non-humans. The definition is also sometimes extended to include sounds made by humans in a directly biological way. For instance, music that is created by the brain waves of the composer can also be called biomusic as can music created by the human body without the use of tools or instruments that are not part of the body (singing or vocalizing is usually excluded from this definition).

Biomusic can be divided into two basic categories: music that is created solely by the animal (or in some cases plant), and music which is based upon animal noises but which is arranged by a human composer. Some forms of music use recorded sounds of nature as part of the music, for example new-age music uses the nature sounds as backgrounds for various musical soundscapes, and ambient music sometimes uses nature sounds modified with reverbs and delay units to make spacey versions of the nature sounds as part of the ambience.

David Monacchi

David Monacchi is an Italian sound artist, researcher and eco-acoustic composer, best known for his multidisciplinary project Fragments of Extinction, patented periphonic device, the Eco-Acoustic Theatre, and award-winning music and sound-art installations.Monacchi is internationally recognized for his pioneering work with nonprofit organizations, such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), and Ear to the Earth, to capture and preserve the unique sonic heritage of the world’s rapidly vanishing, last remaining areas of undisturbed primary equatorial rainforest; his many thousands of hours of field work dedicated to the creation and development of a growing sound bank of these remote ecosystems, which provides raw data for the scientific analysis and study of the world’s most critically endangered biodiversity hotspots; and for raising public awareness and fostering discourse on the biodiversity crisis through his musical compositions and immersive sound installations.

Divje Babe Flute

The Divje Babe Flute is a cave bear femur pierced by spaced holes that was found in 1995 at the Divje Babe archeological park located near Cerkno in northwestern Slovenia. It has been suggested that it was made by Neanderthals as a form of musical instrument, its hole spacing and alignment leading to its being labeled a "Neanderthal flute". Slovenian archeologist Mitja Brodar, however, argues that it was made by Cro-Magnons as an element of Central European Aurignacian culture. A form of flute, it is possibly the world's oldest known musical instrument. Despite alternative hypotheses suggesting it was formed by animals, the artifact remains on prominent public display in the National Museum of Slovenia in Ljubljana as a Neanderthal flute.


Entrainment may refer to:

Air entrainment, the intentional creation of tiny air bubbles in concrete

Brainwave entrainment, the practice of entraining one's brainwaves to a desired frequency

Entrainment (biomusicology), the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm

Entrainment (chronobiology), the alignment of a circadian system's period and phase to the period and phase of an external rhythm

Entrainment (engineering), the entrapment of one substance by another substance

Entrainment (hydrodynamics), the movement of one fluid by another

Entrainment (meteorology), a phenomenon of the atmosphere

Entrainment (physical geography), the process by which surface sediment is incorporated into a fluid flow

Entrainment (physics), the process whereby two interacting oscillating systems assume the same period

Lexical entrainment, the process in conversational linguistics of the subject adopting the terms of their interlocutor

Entrainment (biomusicology)

Entrainment in the biomusicological sense refers to the synchronization of organisms (only humans as a whole, with some particular instances of a particular animal) to an external perceived rhythm, such as human music and dance such as foot tapping.

Evolutionary aesthetics

Evolutionary aesthetics refers to evolutionary psychology theories in which the basic aesthetic preferences of Homo sapiens are argued to have evolved in order to enhance survival and reproductive success.Based on this theory, things like color preference, preferred mate body ratios, shapes, emotional ties with objects, and many other aspects of the aesthetic experience can be explained with reference to human evolution.

Evolutionary musicology

Evolutionary musicology is a subfield of biomusicology that grounds the psychological mechanisms of music perception and production in evolutionary theory. It covers vocal communication in non-human animal species, theories of the evolution of human music, and cross-cultural human universals in musical ability and processing.

Field recording

Field recording is the term used for an audio recording produced outside a recording studio, and the term applies to recordings of both natural and human-produced sounds.

Field recording of natural sounds, also called phonography (a term chosen to illustrate its similarities to photography), was originally developed as a documentary adjunct to research work in the field, and foley work for film. With the introduction of high-quality, portable recording equipment, it has subsequently become an evocative artform in itself. In the 1970s, both processed and natural phonographic recordings, (pioneered by Irv Teibel's Environments series), became popular.

"Field recordings" may also refer to simple monaural or stereo recordings taken of musicians in familiar and casual surroundings, such as the ethnomusicology recordings pioneered by John Lomax, Nonesuch Records, and Vanguard Records.


Lamarckism (or Lamarckian inheritance) is the hypothesis that an organism can pass on characteristics that it has acquired through use or disuse during its lifetime to its offspring. It is also known as the inheritance of acquired characteristics or soft inheritance. It is inaccurately named after the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744–1829), who incorporated the action of soft inheritance into his evolutionary theories as a supplement to his concept of orthogenesis, a drive towards complexity. The theory is cited in textbooks to contrast with Darwinism. This paints a false picture of the history of biology, as Lamarck did not originate the idea of soft inheritance, which was known from the classical era onwards, and it was not the primary focus of Lamarck's theory of evolution. Further, in On the Origin of Species (1859), Charles Darwin supported the idea of "use and disuse inheritance", though rejecting other aspects of Lamarck's theory.

Many researchers from the 1860s onwards attempted to find evidence for the theory, but these have all been explained away either by other mechanisms such as genetic contamination, or as fraud. Later, Mendelian genetics supplanted the notion of inheritance of acquired traits, eventually leading to the development of the modern synthesis, and the general abandonment of the Lamarckism in biology. Despite this, interest in Lamarckism has continued.

Studies in the field of epigenetics and somatic hypermutation have highlighted the possible inheritance of behavioral traits acquired by the previous generation. These remain controversial, not least because historians of science have asserted that it is inaccurate to describe transgenerational epigenetic inheritance as a form of Lamarckism. The inheritance of the hologenome, consisting of the genomes of all an organism's symbiotic microbes as well as its own genome, is also somewhat Lamarckian in effect, though entirely Darwinian in its mechanisms.

Music psychology

Music psychology, or the psychology of music, may be regarded as a branch of both psychology and musicology. It aims to explain and understand musical behaviour and experience, including the processes through which music is perceived, created, responded to, and incorporated into everyday life. Modern music psychology is primarily empirical; its knowledge tends to advance on the basis of interpretations of data collected by systematic observation of and interaction with human participants. Music psychology is a field of research with practical relevance for many areas, including music performance, composition, education, criticism, and therapy, as well as investigations of human attitude, skill, performance, intelligence, creativity, and social behavior.

Music psychology can shed light on non-psychological aspects of musicology and musical practice. For example, it contributes to music theory through investigations of the perception and computational modelling of musical structures such as melody, harmony, tonality, rhythm, meter, and form. Research in music history can benefit from systematic study of the history of musical syntax, or from psychological analyses of composers and compositions in relation to perceptual, affective, and social responses to their music. Ethnomusicology can benefit from psychological approaches to the study of music cognition in different cultures.

Music therapy

Music therapy is the use of music to improve health or functional outcomes. Music therapy is a creative arts therapy, consisting of a process in which a music therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients improve their physical and mental health. Music therapists primarily help clients improve their health in several domains, such as cognitive functioning, motor skills, emotional development, communication, sensory, social skills, and quality of life by using both active and receptive music experiences such as improvisation, re-creation, composition, and listening and discussion of music to achieve treatment goals. There is a wide qualitative and quantitative research literature base.

Some commonly found practices include developmental work (communication, motor skills, etc.) with individuals with special needs, songwriting and listening in reminiscence/orientation work with the elderly, processing and relaxation work, and rhythmic entrainment for physical rehabilitation in stroke victims. Music therapy is also used in some medical hospitals, cancer centers, schools, alcohol and drug recovery programs, psychiatric hospitals, and correctional facilities Music has been found to be an effective tool for music therapists through extensive research. It is beneficial for any individual, both physically and mentally, through improved heart rate, reduced anxiety, stimulation of the brain, and improved learning. Music therapists use their techniques to help their patients in many areas, ranging from stress relief before and after surgeries, to neuropathologies such as Alzheimer's disease. One study found that children who listened to music while having an IV inserted into their arms showed less distress and felt less pain than the children who did not listen to music while having an IV inserted. Studies have been carried out on patients diagnosed different mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia and there has been a visible improvement in their mental health after the therapy.Approaches used in music therapy that have emerged from the field of music education include Orff-Schulwerk (Orff), Dalcroze eurhythmics, and Kodály method. Models that developed directly out of music therapy are neurologic music therapy (NMT), Nordoff-Robbins music therapy and the Bonny method of guided imagery and music.Music therapists may work with individuals who have behavioral-emotional disorders.[2] To meet the needs of this population, music therapists have taken current psychological theories and used them as a basis for different types of music therapy. Different models include behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. The therapist has an ongoing responsibility to evaluate the extent to which the client is achieving the goals of therapy and whether the methods of therapy being used are helping or hindering the client.One therapy model based on neuroscience, called "neurologic music therapy" (NMT), is "based on a neuroscience model of music perception and production, and the influence of music on functional changes in non-musical brain and behavior functions". In other words, NMT studies how the brain is without music, how the brain is with music, measures the differences, and uses these differences to cause changes in the brain through music that will eventually affect the client non-musically. As Michael Thaut put it: "The brain that engages in music is changed by engaging in music." NMT trains motor responses (i.e. tapping foot or fingers, head movement, etc.) to better help clients develop motor skills that help "entrain the timing of muscle activation patterns".

Musical semantics

Music semantics refers to the ability of music to convey semantic meaning. Semantics are a key feature of language, and whether music shares some of the same ability to prime and convey meaning has been the subject of recent study.

Never Come Undone

Never Come Undone is an EP by La Dispute and Koji, released on May 3, 2011 through No Sleep Records. This is the second split EP for both bands. The EP features one new original song from each band, as well as a reimagining of Last Blues for Bloody Knuckles by La Dispute and a cover of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists's Biomusicology by Koji. The vinyl press was limited to 2000 copies; 500 in both a purple/black Split and in 500 purple, then 1000 in black.

Outline of music

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to music:

Music – human expression in the medium of time using the structures of sounds or tones and silence. It is expressed in terms of pitch, rhythm, harmony, and timbre.

Simha Arom

Simha Arom (born 1930) is a French-Israeli ethnomusicologist who is recognized as a world expert on the music of central Africa, especially that of the Central African Republic. His books include African Polyphony and Polyrhythm: Musical Structure and Methodology (1991) ISBN 0-521-24160-X. He also made some historical field recordings of the Aka Pygmy music.

In the 1960s, Simha Arom was sent by the Government of Israel to establish a brass band in the Central African Republic. He became fascinated by the traditional music of this country, especially the vocal polyphonies of the Aka Pygmies. He entered the CNRS in 1968 and in 1984 he received its Silver Medal. He did field work every year from 1971 to 1991, accompanied by ethnolinguists and students, to record this music to study it and preserve it.

Simha Arom was awarded a First Prize for French Horn at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique of Paris before becoming an ethnomusicologist. Using interactive experiments, he has worked on uncovering implicit musical systems and the way in which cultures build cognitive categories as attested in their music. His work is based on the postulate that, in order for it to be valid, data collected in the field must be corroborated by cognitive data specific to the holders of the culture studied.

His research topics include the temporal organization of music, musical scales, polyphonic techniques, music in the social system and the elaboration of conceptual tools for the categorization, analysis and modeling of traditional music. From a mostly descriptive discipline, he has tried to build a science in the full sense of the word, with all of its attributes: experimentation, verification, validation, modeling, conceptualization and reconstitution by means of synthesis.

He has been a Visiting Professor at many universities – particularly Montreal, UCLA, Vancouver, M.I.T., Cambridge (U.K.), Tel-Aviv, Bar-Ilan, Haifa, Basel, Zurich, Siena, and Venice, and his work has inspired contemporary composers2 such as Luciano Berio (Coro), György Ligeti, Steve Reich, Fabien Lévy and Fabian Panisello.

Simha Arom is Research Director Emeritus at the CNRS, a founding member of the Société française d'ethnomusicologie, the Société française d'analyse musicale, the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM) and the European Seminar in Ethnomusicology; he is also a member of the Société française de musicologie and the Board of directors of The Universe of Music project (UNESCO).

His sound archives were deposited in 2011 at the sound library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Systematic musicology

Systematic musicology is an umbrella term, used mainly in Central Europe, for several subdisciplines and paradigms of musicology. "Systematic musicology has traditionally been conceived of as an interdisciplinary science, whose aim it is to explore the foundations of music from different points of view, such as acoustics, physiology, psychology, anthro- pology, music theory, sociology, and aesthetics." The most important subdisciplines today are music psychology, sociomusicology (music sociology), philosophy of music (music philosophy), music acoustics (physics of music), cognitive neuroscience of music, and the computer sciences of music (including sound and music computing, music information retrieval, and computing in musicology). These subdisciplines and paradigms tend to address questions about music in general, rather than specific manifestations of music.

In the European tripartite model of musicology, musicology is regarded as a combination of three broad subdisciplines: ethnomusicology, music history (or historical musicology), and systematic musicology. Ethnomusicology and historical musicology are primarily concerned with specific manifestations of music such as performances, works, traditions, genres, and the people who produce and engage with them (musicians, composers, social groups). Systematic musicology is different in that it tends not to put these specific manifestations in the foreground, although it of course refers to them. Instead, more general questions are asked about music. These questions tend to be answered either by analysing empirical data (based on observation) or by developing theory - or better, by a combination of both. The 19th-century positivist dream of discovering "laws" of music (by analogy to "laws" in other disciplines such as physics; cf. Adler, 1885), and of defining the discipline of systematic musicology in terms of such laws, slowly evaporated. Ideological trends stemming from modernism and later post-structuralism fundamentally altered the nature of the project.

Since systematic musicology brings together several parent disciplines, it is often regarded as being intrinsically interdisciplinary, or as a system of interacting subdisciplines (hence the alternative name "systemic"). However, most systematic musicologists focus on just one or a select few of the many subdisciplines. Systematic musicologists who are oriented toward the humanities often make reference to fields such as aesthetics, philosophy, semiotics, hermeneutics, music criticism, Media studies, Cultural studies, gender studies, and (theoretic) sociology. Those who are oriented toward science tend to regard their discipline as empirical and data-oriented, and to borrow their methods and ways of thinking from psychology, acoustics, psychoacoustics, physiology, cognitive science, and (empirical) sociology.More recently emerged areas of research which at least partially are in the scope of systematic musicology comprise cognitive musicology, neuromusicology, biomusicology, and music cognition including embodied music cognition. As an academic discipline, systematic musicology is closely related to practically oriented disciplines such as music technology, music information retrieval, and musical robotics.Systematic musicology is less unified than its sister disciplines historical musicology and ethnomusicology. Its contents and methods are more diverse and tend to be more closely related to parent disciplines, both academic and practical, outside of musicology. The diversity of systematic musicology is to some extent compensated for by interdisciplinary interactions within the system of subdisciplines that make it up.

The origins of systematic musicology in Europe can be traced to ancient Greece; philosophers such as Pythagoras, Aristotle, Plato and Aristoxenus asked general questions about music. Historical musicology and ethnomusicology are much younger disciplines, and the relative importance of the three has fluctuated considerably during the past few centuries. Today, musicology's three broad subdisciplines are of approximately equal size in terms of the volume of research activity.

The Tyranny of Distance (album)

The Tyranny of Distance is the second album by American rock band Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, released in 2001 by Lookout! Records. It was the group's first album as a full band, as their previous album tej leo(?), Rx / pharmacists had been a solo effort by singer/guitarist Ted Leo. The album's title comes from a lyric in the Split Enz song "Six Months in a Leaky Boat", which the band later covered twice: first as a Leo solo on the EP Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead in 2003, and again as a full band on 2005's Sharkbite Sessions.

W. Tecumseh Fitch

William Tecumseh Sherman Fitch III (born 1963) is an American evolutionary biologist and cognitive scientist at the University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria) where he is co-founder of the Department of Cognitive Biology.

Fitch studies the biology and evolution of cognition and communication in humans and other animals, and in particular the evolution of speech, language and music. His work concentrates on comparative approaches as advocated by Charles Darwin (i.e., the study of homologous and analogous structures and processes in a wide range of species).

Fitch was born in Boston and received his B.A. (1986) in biology and his Ph.D. (1994) in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Brown University. From 1996 to 2000, he worked as a Postdoctoral fellow at MIT and Harvard University. He was a lecturer at Harvard University and a reader at the University of St Andrews, before moving to a professorship at the University of Vienna in 2009.

He bears the name of his third generation great grandfather, William Tecumseh Sherman, as did his father and grandfather before him.

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