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Evolution of Emotional CommunicationFrom Sounds in Nonhuman Mammals to Speech and Music in Man$
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Eckart Altenmüller, Sabine Schmidt, and Elke Zimmermann

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199583560

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583560.001.0001

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Emotional communication in monkeys: Music to their ears?

Emotional communication in monkeys: Music to their ears?

Chapter:
(p.133) Chapter 9 Emotional communication in monkeys: Music to their ears?
Source:
Evolution of Emotional Communication
Author(s):

Charles T. Snowdon

David Teie

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583560.003.0009

Results are equivocal on whether nonhuman animals can appreciate music. Although human music is unique to humans, we argue that the emotional components of music have an evolutionary history. We present a theory of emotional origins of music and show that music/emotional features are found in vocalizations of cotton-top tamarins, a small New World monkey. We composed music comprising our hypothesized emotional features in the frequency range and tempos of tamarin vocalizations. These compositions induced calming and arousing emotional states in the monkeys, although human-based music with similar features had little effect. Other species may incorporate similar emotional features into their calls as we use to induce emotions in music Animal calls not only communicate a caller’s emotional state but may also induce emotional responses in listeners. Attempts to play human-based music to other species as enrichment are likely to be misguided, with human-based music being irritating or merely ineffective.

Keywords:   emotion-induction, emotional communication, species-specific music, evolution of music, cotton-top tamarins, calming, arousal, vocalizations

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