Music and the Other: an introduction
In the contemporary world, music has been used for an ever-growing number of purposes, a process that has followed closely the evolution of humankind itself. As apparently the most comprehensive study, at least to date, in evolutionary musicology shows us, music—from the emergence of human civilization—has been an essential component of most social behaviours: hunting, herding, story-telling, playing, washing, eating, praying, meditating, courting, marrying, healing, burying and so on. Music evolved along with humans’ neural and cognitive mechanisms, as well as with the advance of technology. Indeed, the history of humankind can be partially documented through the music it produced over the millennia, and the ways it used music for a myriad of purposes.
It is remarkable, however, how the uses of music persisted throughout human history. For example, the ancient Greeks considered Apollo a god of both medicine and music, the biblical David was said to rid King Saul of the evil spirit by playing on the harp, ‘Florence Nightingale brought music to hospitals during the Crimean War’, and, just a few years ago, Austria became the first country worldwide to officially recognize music therapy as a health profession. Similar persistence can be registered in many other instances.
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