- Erik Dahlberg
A memetic approach to "explaining" the existance of music and why it is such an effective way of communication.
It seems to me that music is one of the most effective ways of communication that we know of, a way of transferring information to one another in some kind of "pure" way, and thus avoiding the barrier that language constitutes. But why is it so effective?
One thing that bugs me, having a musical and scientific background, is the fact that the existence of music does not seem to have any kind of scientific or even close to logical explanation. Music just "is" and the elements of music (rythm, harmony, melody) are governed by rules that almost seem to be "god-given" or "natural". From where does this almost axiomatic nature of music come?
Listening to the fascinating talks of Susan Blackmore on the creative process and Elizabeth Gilbert on memes I am wondering if music could be put into a context of memes and cultural evolution? In this perspective, musical "building blocks" or, if I may, memes of music are subject to constant mutation and recombination that form a stream of ever evolving musical expression.
This view is interesting, as it has some potential of explaining not only where music comes from, but also gives some kind of explanation to the creative process itself: we are constantly subject to millions of memes, consciously and unconsciously, and the artist, in this view, is an individual who picks up these memes, mutates them and recombines them to a piece of music.
Lastly, viewing music in a memetics context could provide some explanation to why music is such an effective means of communication. Only the successful memes can replicate, and success could for music be defined as level of communicative effectiveness.