Book and Theory Background
My basic paraphrasing of the concept is this. All the songs in the world could be fit into at least one of six categories providing an evolutionary benefit to humanity, often ultimately tied to our social nature.
I have written about each category individually in separate posts, with song examples, listed below with links if you want to know more. However, here is how author Daniel Levitin has summarized the songs:
Friendship songs centre around group cohesion, whether it be for war, or the bonding of different cliques in high school. For example, in prehistoric warfare, attackers would sometimes ambush another tribe using loud instruments (especially drums) to surprise the targets while they were still sleeping. Countertactics employing the use of singing may also have been used as a signal that the group was awake. These songs serve to protect a tribe/group or succeed in the takeover of another. In the context of social groups, they provide a sense of community and belonging, bringing people together.
Joy songs are associated with celebration, moments that inspire people to sing, jump, dance and shout. It has been shown that singing releases oxytocin (the hormone released during orgasm), and music listening releases serotonin (a mood-regulating neurotransmitter commonly used in antidepressants). The positive effect of singing or listening to music has also been found to have a positive effect on the immune system, which creates an evolutionary advantage.
This category of song provides comfort in times of loneliness, stress or heartbreak, along with the classic comfort song, the lullaby. Music written about loneliness and stress can provide us with comfort by assuring us we are not alone in our grief or misery, aiding the recovery process. Lullabies mutually calm mother and child, and may release prolactin, while at the same time providing a bond between the two, which is beneficial for the child.
Historically, songs have been used to transmit various information such as religious texts, survival and life lessons, and even the ABCs. Studies have shown information set to song is memorized more reliably than when simple rote memory is used. Increasing the reliability of transmitted information provides the next generation with valuable information.
Religious ceremonies and ritual go hand in hand, with music frequently accompanying a ritual. Music acts as a retrieval mechanism to guide the movements and words of a particular ritual, and ritual can allow people to stop worrying and focus on the task at hand. Music is also tied to religious ceremonies such as weddings and funerals where acts can be performed as a community, providing social bonding.
Love songs serve as an expression of emotion, commitment, and honesty. They play a role in mating and bonding. Love provides an evolutionary advantage because it is altruistic, and corresponds with commitment, which leads to better care of children, which is an obvious fitness advantage. With altruism, the greater good comes before the individual, strengthening infrastructure.
The Challenge: Name or Write Six Songs for the World
If you are not a songwriter, your challenge is to name one song you can think of for as many categories as you can.
- Please leave your answers as a comment if you so choose. Of course, you could always become a songwriter and take the other version below.
If you are a songwriter, your challenge is to write at least one song for each category in your career, because songs in some categories are not that easy to write if they serve the purposes required of songs in that category. I highly recommend you read either my posts or the book for more details on each type of song before writing some songs for each category because song classifications can be misleading to someone briefly familiar with the theory. For example, the Oral Torah that is all about the sacred text of Judaism is a song of knowledge, not religion, because it preserved knowledge, not associated with rituals.
- If you have written songs, you will have songs which you can populate into some categories already. If you have them online, you are more than welcomed to leave a link in the Comments to share. Please identify the song and the category because most people have their recordings online in bunches, with with MySpace, where there are many songs per web page link. As you write others, you can add new comments until you get your six songs for the world.
- Or just leave a comment with your name, website or whatever, to indicate you are committing to it.
I AM !!!
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 11.7