Popular and academic studies of music frequently claim that human musicality arose from the so-called ‘natural world’ of non-human species. And amid the anxieties produced by the Anthropocene, it is thought that the possibility of reconnecting with the natural world through a renewed appreciation of music’s links with nature may usher in a new era of posthuman environmental consciousness, offering repair and redemption. To critique these claims, we trace how notions of ‘musicality’ have been applied to or denied from non-human entities across diverse disciplines since the late nineteenth century. We conclude that such debates reinforce the separation that they seek to overcome. Indeed, this separation is itself rooted in the history of the study of music in nature. This, we show, has often relied upon an epistemology of origins-listening in which attention to the acoustic is used to formulate implicit evolutionary hierarchies, organized along an axis of similarity and difference among species. While who or what is placed within these categories and the relative value of musicality thus derived may have changed over time, this axis of comparison remains in place. As a corrective, we provoke a new epistemology of listening, in which musicality and species are situated becomings.
Yamin, Tyler and Rudge, Alice. "“Sounds Like” Redemption? On the Musicality of Species and the Species of Musicality." (2024) .
Biological and Physical Anthropology Commons, Environmental Studies Commons, Ethnomusicology Commons, History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Commons, Musicology Commons, Social and Cultural Anthropology Commons