Why do we like to sing
Why does man sing?
One sings in the shower, the other in public on a stage, and still others do it in a group. Many scientists, philosophers and other bright minds have pondered the question of why we sing. Nevertheless, researchers are still divided to this day. Planet Wissen introduces some of the theories about the origin of singing.
Singing drives away predators
Theories about the origin of sung and spoken sounds by humans were already proposed in ancient times. The Greek philosopher Plato (427 to 347 BC) also developed a thesis on this: It is feelings such as aggression or the need for social harmony that make people sing.
What is certain is that song played a central role even in the early hours of mankind: to deter predators, to compete within species and to strengthen cohesion in society with fellow human beings - for example when one was working or sitting around the campfire .
Singing still plays this central role today. It is not without reason that even in small towns and communities there are often different choir groups in which people come together to sing together. Singing together is simply fun!
Singing strengthens the sense of community
The US music researcher David Huron from Ohio State University believes that people started singing in the first place for social reasons. People are particularly dependent on social relationships and want to feel part of a group.
According to Huron, the music was probably created to promote group cohesion. He substantiates this theory with the example of the Brazilian Mekranoti Indians who still live in the Amazon today.
These Indians are hunters and gatherers. Singing is an integral part of their everyday life. The women sing for one to two hours every morning and evening, and the men even start singing at 4:30 in the morning. The Mekranoti define themselves as a group through their singing.
From bird to human - the evolution of song
The evolutionary researcher Charles Darwin (1809-1882) assumed that the origin of the song goes back to the advertising calls of the birds during the mating season.
He observed that in the birds the good singers had clear advantages over their less talented conspecifics when choosing a partner. He then suspected that it must have been similar with the early humans.
According to Darwin, primeval men began to sing in order to be more comfortable with their wives and consequently to ensure their reproduction - and all of this before they even began to speak.
From speaking to singing
The philosopher and psychologist Carl Stumpf (1848 to 1936) countered this theory by Darwin by stating that the oldest known chants - namely those of the indigenous and indigenous peoples - were rarely love songs, but mostly warlike, healing or religious chants.
Also, in contrast to Darwin, Stumpf was of the opinion that the song arose from the melodic movements of the language and that people were speaking before they even began to sing. Stumpf assumed that lingering on a note while speaking was once the first step in singing.
The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), the poet Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), the writer Friedrich Melchior Grimm (1723-1807) and the English sociologist Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) were also convinced that singing could only arise from verbal language.
Rousseau, for example, believed that human singing evolved from passionate, excited speech.
Which came first
It turns out that the question of the connection between song and language is similar to the question of which came first: the egg or the chicken. So what existed first, verbal language or singing?
Some theories in research after the beginnings of singing suggest that humans first sang and only then began to communicate with their fellow species through verbal language.
However, other research approaches are based on the exact opposite, namely that song could only arise from language in the first place.
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