Biomusicology: Neurophysiological, Neuropsychological, and Evolutionary Perspectives on the Origins and Purposes of Music

By Nils L. Wallin | Go to book overview
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APPENDIX I
How did the Kölning Arrive in Jämtland?

The physiology and the anatomic mechanisms of the kölning seem to represent a phylogenetic stage of human evolution in which the links with the expressive world of the more advanced non-human vertebrate soundscape are more prominent than in most music of today. To this may be added the fact that the cultural niche of the kölning is very specific and therefore easily recognized in its varying dialects from different parts of the Old World. However, the emphasis in this book on just this vocal technique and the assumption that it developed in biocultural symbiosis with a transition from hunting to breeding of domesticated flock animals, a process of enormous impact on human evolution, does not indicate that I hold this to be the way music became music. I do believe, however, a number of ultimate biological and cultural qualifications for such an evolution are well illustrated in the kölning.

Nevertheless, we cannot leave the kölning just like that. Even if it is nothing but a minor character in the history of music, we should devote some attention to what driving forces may have lead this relic of early communication to survive, extend, and develop. That story is an important component of the music history of the Norsemen and their ancestors, from the very eastern islands in the Baltic (today incorporated into the USSR), to the Atlantic islands west of Norway. I will here outline how I believe it began, with the hope that I may later elaborate on the tale in another context.

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