Thursday, November 17, 2011

First Song

I believe in evolution.  I particularly believe in the way living things change to take best advantage of their physical circumstances.  Read Jonathon Weiner's "The Beak of the Finch: a Story of Evolution in our Time" for a quick immersion course in opportunistic adaptation.  I follow with enthusiasm the continuing drama of new discoveries showing the evolutionary path followed by earliest man.  I stare at images of cave art. 

But what of cave song?  If they took the time to draw, surely they took the time to sing.  What early purpose favored individuals with the lung, larynx and head cavities necessary to song?  What evolutionary turn taught the mind to tune the voice-as-instrument without an external pitch fork?  What lullaby did the cave woman sing to her swaddled babe?  What triumphal aria did the early hunter offer as he carried home his prey?  What deep bass voice looked out at the clouds and forecast rain?  For surely they sang.  Surely they learned the joy of singing together, the power of unison and rhythm.  In my dreams I will hear these early songs.

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