Cognitive Function, Origin, and Evolution of Musical Emotions
Cognitive function of music, its origin, and evolution has been a mystery until recently. Here we discuss a theory of a fundamental function of music in cognition and culture. Music evolved in parallel with language. The evolution of language toward a semantically powerful tool required freeing from uncontrolled emotions. Knowledge evolved fast along with language. This created cognitive dissonances, contradictions among knowledge and instincts, which differentiated consciousness. To sustain evolution of language and culture, these contradictions had to be unified. Music was the mechanism of unification. Differentiated emotions are needed for resolving cognitive dissonances. As knowledge has been accumulated, contradictions multiplied and correspondingly more varied emotions had to evolve. While language differentiated psyche, music unified it. Thus the need for refined musical emotions in the process of cultural evolution is grounded in fundamental mechanisms of cognition. This is why today’s human mind and cultures cannot exist without today’s music.