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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/13

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THE ORIGIN OF MUSIC.

times through pleasurable expectation, sometimes during the gratifications of eating, sometimes from a general content while seeking about for food. The Heatings of sheep, again, occur under the promptings of various feelings, usually of no great intensity: social and maternal rather than sexual. The like holds with the lowing of cattle. Nor is it otherwise with poultry. The quacking of ducks indicates general satisfaction, and the screams occasionally vented by a flock of geese seem rather to express a wave of social excitement than anything else. Save after laying an egg, when the sounds have the character of triumph, the duckings of a hen show content; and on various occasions cock-crowing apparently implies good spirits only. In all cases an overflow of nervous energy has to find vent; and while in some cases it leads to wagging of the tail, in others it leads to contraction of the vocal muscles. That this relation holds, not of one kind of feeling, but of many kinds, is a truth which seems to me at variance with the view "that the vocal organs were primarily used and perfected in relation to the propagation of the species."

The hypothesis that music had its origin in the amatory sounds made by the male to charm the female, has the support of the popular idea that the singing of birds constitutes a kind of courtship—an idea adopted by Mr. Darwin when he says that "the male pours forth his full volume of song, in rivalry with other males, for the sake of captivating the female." Usually, Mr. Darwin does not accept without criticism and verification, the beliefs he finds current; but in this case he seems to have done so. Even cursory observation suffices to dissipate this belief, initiated, I suppose, by poets. In preparation for dealing with the matter I have made memoranda concerning various songbirds, dating back to 1883. On the 7th of February of that year I heard a lark singing several times; and, still more remarkably, during the mild winter of 1884-1 saw one soar, and heard it sing, on the 10th January. Yet the lark does not pair till March. Having heard the redbreast near the close of August, 1888, 1 noted the continuance of its song all through the autumn and winter, up to Christmas eve, Christmas day, the 29th of December, and again on the 18th January, 1889. How common is the singing of the thrush during mild weather in winter, every one must have observed. The presence of thrushes behind my house has led to the making of notes on this point. The male sang in November, 1889; I noted the song again on Christmas eve, again on the 13th January, 1890, and from time to time all through the rest of that month. I heard little of his song in February, which is the pairing season; and none at all, save a few notes early in the morning, during the period of rearing the young. But now that, in the middle of May, the young, reared in a nest in my garden, have