Date published:

Pitch Syntax as an Evolutionary Prelingual Innovation

Piotr Podlipniak: Pitch Syntax as an Evolutionary Prelingual Innovation, Musicae Scientiae ()() () pp. 102986492094155-

This article is devoted to the evolutionary origin of pitch syntax as a prelingual innovation. The aim of this paper is to indicate that the recognition of pitch structure in music may be a separate ability, rather than merely being part of general syntactic processing. It is also proposed that pitch syntax has evolved as a specific tool for social bonding in which subtle emotions of tension and resolution are indications of mutual trust. From this perspective, it is considered that musical pitch started to act as a medium of communication by the means of spectral synchronization between the brains of hominins. Pitch syntax facilitated spectral synchronization between performers of a well-established, enduring, communal ritual and in this way increased social cohesion. This process led to the evolution of new cortico-subcortical pathways that enabled the implicit learning of pitch hierarchy and the intuitive use of pitch structure in music before language, as we know it now, began.