November 15, 2013

Music and population structure (Brown et al. 2013)

Proceedings of the Royal Society B doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2072

Correlations in the population structure of music, genes and language

Steven Brown et al.

We present, to our knowledge, the first quantitative evidence that music and genes may have coevolved by demonstrating significant correlations between traditional group-level folk songs and mitochondrial DNA variation among nine indigenous populations of Taiwan. These correlations were of comparable magnitude to those between language and genes for the same populations, although music and language were not significantly correlated with one another. An examination of population structure for genetics showed stronger parallels to music than to language. Overall, the results suggest that music might have a sufficient time-depth to retrace ancient population movements and, additionally, that it might be capturing different aspects of population history than language. Music may therefore have the potential to serve as a novel marker of human migrations to complement genes, language and other markers.

Link

5 comments:

ssas said...

Have they heard about the "meme" theory, or think they have discovered something new?

DocG said...

What's new is that they've been able to quantize the evidence.

andrew said...

On first impression, I'd expect music and language to have similar time depth, and not necessarily in a manner with one consistently deeper than the other. I wonder if there is much hope of replicating this result.

Greg said...

I think you mean quantify, but yeah - this paper shows how musical attributes travel along genetic lines, but does not actually provide evidence for or against "memes" - there are many cultural evolutionary mechanisms that could potentially explain this.

Greg said...

I think you mean quantify, but yeah - this paper shows how musical attributes travel along genetic lines, but does not actually provide evidence for or against "memes" - there are many cultural evolutionary mechanisms that could potentially explain this.