Thursday, 26 March 2015

Sounds like poetry...

A friend who aspires to intellectualism claims that music , "anthropologically" came before poetry and that writing came after music...
What I find interesting in this view is that she has supported it with the claim that anthropology actually knows which came first.
As an intellectual, a lover of ideas and a philosopher, I wonder how so many seemingly intelligent people can accept as "gospel" academic claims.
There exist numerous reasons to doubt the claims made by social scientists, even reasons to doubt the findings of "the hard sciences". I don't say this as a knee-jerk skeptic, but rather because it is through such doubt, sometimes called "peer review", that epistemology advances.

The claim that music is prior to human writing and poetry may seem true on the face of it, but if we consider that in nature animals communicate, have use of language (albeit proto-language) and engage in ritualized behaviors as a form of communication, then the order of developments seems wrong. It can be understood easily by simply watching animals go about their affairs. Even differing species can communicate , often through sound.
If we consider that music is a complex process, a phenomenon that requires certain conceptual understanding, then it hardly seems logical that music appeared before poetry. Poetry being an art form that is both sound and marks, (or writing)  dependent on repetitive structure, meter, and rhyme and an aspect of the internal play of the mind, it would naturally come before music. In fact, it would be more likely that mind games that played with sound as an aspect of communication were well established before any ritualized behavior could develop, ie; music.
It is true that we have no evidence for the argument that I propose, but that is because we consider writing to be necessary for poetry to exist, yet no such proof has ever been found either.
Consider that communication/language in whatever form was used by our ancestors likely developed out of hunting behavior. That behavior relied on clicks, pops, whistles, claps and calls. These eventually came to be used in other forms of ritualized behavior. These sounds also derived from internal ability, they required no abstracted element such as an instrument because the sounds could be made by our bodies.
Another important consideration is that necessities are fulfilled before luxuries are available. Food, shelter, security all come before free time. Free time is essential for creative activity, specifically for art. Before the ritualized behavior could be accompanied by abstracted elements/instruments it had to complete the course of survival. Communication is essential in group survival.

Our first efforts at communication were through use of our internal abilities; calls, clicks, pops, etc. This implies that our mouths were primary in the making of sounds that were useful. Music would follow poetry in this case, if only because one can be a poet without a drum.