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Simultaneous Cooperation and Competition in the Evolution of Musical Behavior: Sex-Related Modulations of the Singer's Formant in Human Chorusing

Keller, PE; Koenig, R; Novembre, G; (2017) Simultaneous Cooperation and Competition in the Evolution of Musical Behavior: Sex-Related Modulations of the Singer's Formant in Human Chorusing. Frontiers in Psychology , 8 , Article 1559. 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01559. Green open access

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Abstract

Human interaction through music is a vital part of social life across cultures. Influential accounts of the evolutionary origins of music favor cooperative functions related to social cohesion or competitive functions linked to sexual selection. However, work on non-human “chorusing” displays, as produced by congregations of male insects and frogs to attract female mates, suggests that cooperative and competitive functions may coexist. In such chorusing, rhythmic coordination between signalers, which maximizes the salience of the collective broadcast, can arise through competitive mechanisms by which individual males jam rival signals. Here, we show that mixtures of cooperative and competitive behavior also occur in human music. Acoustic analyses of the renowned St. Thomas Choir revealed that, in the presence of female listeners, boys with the deepest voices enhance vocal brilliance and carrying power by boosting high spectral energy. This vocal enhancement may reflect sexually mature males competing for female attention in a covert manner that does not undermine collaborative musical goals. The evolutionary benefits of music may thus lie in its aptness as a medium for balancing sexually motivated behavior and group cohesion.

Type: Article
Title: Simultaneous Cooperation and Competition in the Evolution of Musical Behavior: Sex-Related Modulations of the Singer's Formant in Human Chorusing
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01559
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01559
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Social Sciences, Psychology, Multidisciplinary, Psychology, music, vocal expression, singer's formant, evolution, non-verbal communication, WARBLER ACROCEPHALUS-ARUNDINACEUS, REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS, FEMALE CHOICE, SONG, MALES, SYNCHRONY, TESTOSTERONE, ATTRACTION, MECHANISMS, EXPRESSION
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Neuro, Physiology and Pharmacology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1575716
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