The following is not intended as a theistic proof, but it is yet another of countless points of ‘resonance’ with belief in a Creator.
I was just thinking last night about how deeply human or ‘anthropocentric’ music is. Whilst we can anthropomorphise and talk about the ‘song’ of the bluebird, or the rhythm of the cicadas or crickets, these animals are not truly doing ‘music’. It is a human activity.
I think of the vast pre-human time where there was no scales, chords, melodies, harmonies, minor or major keys, suspensions, arpeggios, triplets, modes, beats, resolutions, or tensions. What a breathtaking development for music to arrive on the scene!
I’m not going to speculate on what the first music sounded like, or whether music was before or after language, etc. What I was particularly thinking about last night was the way in which minor chords and keys and certain tensions, beats and rhythms can ‘move’ (and indeed, at times manipulate) us. The victorious flavour of ‘bright’ major chords and keys contrasts beautifully with the reflective shade of ‘darker’ minor chords and keys. It beautifully reflects the reality of the basic bifurcations of life as we experience it as humans.
The interesting thing for me is that from an evolutionary perspective, music would with little or no doubt have arrived on the scene after our most recent major physiological evolutionary step. Music, therefore, could not have been part of the environmental pressure shaping pre-human (and thus pre-musical) life. There could be no survival of the most musically moved, so to speak. So it would be hard for me to grasp how we could blame (or thank) evolution by natural selection for the effect that music has on us. I welcome corrections to my thinking here (both in musical and evolutionary theory), but from where I stand, it appears that the wonderful coherence between the bifurcation of major and minor chords and our bifurcated experience of life is yet another of many ‘coincidences’.