"Forget the lyrics": singing primates have something to say about the origins of musicality.

Institute Seminar by Marco Gamba

  • Date: May 9, 2023
  • Time: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Marco Gamba
  • Dr. Marco Gamba is a Researcher in Zoology in the Department of Life Sciences And Systems Biology at the University of Torino. His long-time interest in sounds and music led him to a growing interest in bioacoustics and his current research on improving our understanding of Primate phonation and vocal abilities.
  • Host: Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior
  • Contact: all.science@ab.mpg.de
 "Forget the lyrics": singing primates have something to say about the origins of musicality.
Studying singing primates is a fascinating scientific journey between aspects that remain consistent across phylogenetically distant species and others that are strikingly different between species whose evolutionary divergence is much more recent. With my collaborators, we are trying to add new pieces to a mosaic that is proving to be very informative, allowing us to go to the origins of vocal communication in the primate order. I will present the results from twenty years of research in the Malagasy rainforests concerning the indris' spatial, social, and especially vocal behaviour. From those biological foundations, we will move to the search for common characteristics between the musical abilities of humans and other animal species. If it is true that music is a cultural construct that we consider exquisitely human, it is legitimate to ask what biological traits enable us to produce and perceive music and whether these are shared with other species. From indris to white-handed gibbons and crested gibbons, we will see how developmental and phylogenetic factors may contribute to understanding how musicality and music itself might have evolved.

The MPI-AB Seminar Series is open to members of MPI and Uni Konstanz. The zoom link is published each week in the MPI-AB newsletter.

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