The Origins of Music in Mimesis, Rhythms and Numbers
Giannis Kugiumutzakis and Colleagues - University of Crete
In this talk I describe the results of experimental and naturalistic studies of our research team, which show that mimesis, rhythm and a sense of number, function, during the first year of human life, and from the beginning.
If a sense of harmony in music implies an awareness of the relations among numbers, then human infants come to birth with a rudimentary, but experimentally detectable, numerical acuity. This is shown by one experimental research of our team. If rhythm is the basic element of music, then human infants come to this world endowed with appreciation of music, demonstrated in a sense of rhythm in their expressions and an ability to coordinate kinetically and phonetically with the rhythm of music they hear. This is proved by another study of our research team. If kinetic and phonetic mimesis are fundamental elements of musical participation, then musicality is present in human infants, for, as soon as they are born, they can imitate kinetic and phonetic rhythmic models. This we have demonstrated in several experimental and naturalistic studies, which I shall review. Emotions that motivate and accompany not only the mimetic and rhythmic episodes, but also the perception of numerical correspondences, are also detectable, in the form of emotional expressions, from the very beginning of life.
The above studies, especially those employing naturalistic observation, indicate that life begins with a rich sharing of impulses for an active life – in mimesis and rhythm, adults and infants share movements, sounds, spontaneous e-motions, implicit intentions, intuitive expectations, obvious goals, awareness of time and space, actions and motives, all within a harmonic Play between the conscious and the unconscious. The object of this mimetic and rhythmic musicality is not merely to make an “accurate” copy of kinetic and phonetic models, but to attain coordination in time, cooperativeness, complementarity, co-creation, concern about inter-subjective relation, in which development of the young of our species takes place. The role of our innate sense of music - in each local culture and in each child’s course of development of numerical, rhythmic and mimetic ability - is catalytic. The roots of art – and especially of music – are detected from the beginning of ontogenesis of young infants of our species.
In the course of the historical time, art changes imitating life and life changes imitating art. I wonder, is there any meaning in talking about life and art, when human life without art has never existed in the history of mankind, and art without life is unconceivable?