Saturday, June 28, 2008

Boléro

I've probably mentioned this somewhere else before in my blog, but one of life's most underrated joys is when you finally "get" a song that you've been hearing a few times. This morning I entered into that period of infatuation for Maurice Ravel's Boléro. Continuing my recent habit of questioning the evolutionary purpose of every human characteristic, I began to wonder why we evolved into a species that likes music. What survival benefits does that afford? Here's the most satisfying answer that I've come across . We acquired the faculty of pattern recognition early on. That's what allowed us to plan a hunt, allowing us to improvise our strategies based on the position, number, and distance of the prey and on the nature of the terrain. This ability to recognize patterns has obvious benefits for the success of our species. I'm guessing this same faculty then manifested in what we now call aesthetic sense, and specifically into the appreciation of music (Exaptation they call this).

What I still haven't found an answer for is why we yield our emotions to the persuasions of a nice song. Today, for instance, I felt rapture and pathos and calm and angst all in the space of 15 minutes, while the different instruments played the same notes for dramatically different effects. Well, I think I should listen to A for once and just enjoy the experience without the noise of a million questions.
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