The evolving animal orchestra: In Search of What Makes Us Musical

December 18, 2019Paradiso (Main Hall) Amsterdam
In search of what makes us musical
Doors open: 19:30
Start programme: 19:45
Paradiso (Main Hall)
Weteringschans 6-8
Amsterdam

What is musicality? Are we the only musical species? What do you need to know in order to be musical? Do birds sing with a melody in mind? Why do animals sing the perfect pitch? Is our musical predisposition unique, like our linguistic ability?

Even those of us who can't play a musical instrument or lack a sense of rhythm can perceive and enjoy music. Research shows that all humans possess the trait of musicality. In this talk, following his latest book, 'The Evolving Animal Orchestra', Professor in Music Cognition, Henkjan Honing, embarks upon a quest to discover if humans share the trait of musicality with other animals.

Departing from Darwin’s belief that all animals -human and nonhuman- possess the biologically inherent capacity of musicality, Honing observed several animals’ responses to music, using a variety of research methods; such as an EEG scan to test beat perception among rhesus monkeys, listening experiments with zebra finches. He will introduce you to Snowball, the dancing Cockatoo, and Ronan, the sealion, moving her head to the beat.

He reports on the unforeseen twists and turns, doubts, and oversights that are a part of any scientific research—and which point to as many questions as answers. But, as he shows us, science is closing in on the biological and evolutionary source of our musicality.

In search of what makes us musical thumbnail

Henkjan Honing

The evolving animal orchestra: In Search of What Makes Us Musical

What is musicality? Are we the only musical species? What do you need to know in order to be musical? Do birds sing with a melody in mind? Why do animals sing the perfect pitch? Is our musical predisposition unique, like our linguistic ability?

Talk by

Henkjan Honing

Henkjan Honing is a professor of Music Cognition at both the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam. He studies what musicality is or can be and to what extent human beings share musicality with other animals. His aim is to define the cognitive and biological mechanisms that underpin musicality. In addition to a research agenda (The Origins of Musicality, 2018, MIT Press), Honing has published several books for the general public, including the English-language publications 'Musical Cognition' and 'The Evolving Animal Orchestra'. Honing’s books and lectures are popular with a broad audience and are appreciated both inside and outside the scientific world.

Henkjan Honing

Music by

Meetsysteem

Meetsysteem is a young producer from Amsterdam, who spent most of his youth in the basement of his parent's house making music. Stylistically moving through tech house, beat and rap, he finally found his voice in the Dutch pop song. His 2019 debut album 'Geen Signaal' on the Rotterdam-based label Nous'Klaer goes down countless musical paths and creates an immersive world of oddball poppy electronica.

Meetsysteem