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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/18

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and peoples of Northern Asia, do we read of love-songs; and then, strange to say, these are mentioned as mostly coming, not from men, but from women. Out of all the testimonies there is not one which tells of a love-song spontaneously commenced by a man to charm a woman. Entirely absent among the rudest types and many of the more developed types, amatory musical utterance, where first found, is found under a form opposite to that which Mr. Darwin's hypothesis implies; and we have to seek among civilized peoples before we meet, in serenades and the like, music of the kind which, according to his view, should be the earliest.[1]

Even were his view countenanced by the facts, there would remain unexplained the process by which sexually-excited sounds have been evolved into music. In the foregoing essay I have indicated the various qualities, relations, and combinations of tones, spontaneously prompted by emotions of all kinds, which exhibit, in undeveloped forms, the traits of recitative and melody. To have reduced his hypothesis to a shape admitting of comparison, Mr. Darwin should have shown that the sounds excited by sexual emotions possess these same traits; and, to have proved that his hypothesis is the more tenable, should have shown that they possess these same traits in a greater degree. But he has not attempted to do this. He has simply suggested that instead of having its roots in the vocal sounds caused by feelings of all kinds, music has its roots in the vocal sounds caused by the amatory feeling only: giving no reason why the effects of the feelings at large should be ignored, and the effects of one particular feeling alone recognized.

 

Nineteen years after my essay on "The Origin and Function of Music" was published, Mr. Edmund Gurney criticised it in an article which made its appearance in the Fortnightly Review for July, 1876. Absorption in more important work prevented me from replying. Though, some ten years ago, I thought of defending my views against those of Mr. Darwin and Mr. Gurney, the occurrence of Mr. Darwin's death obliged me to postpone for a time any discussion of his views; and then, the more recent unfortunate death of Mr. Gurney caused a further postponement. I must now, however, say that which seems needful, though there is no longer any possibility of a rejoinder from him.


  1. After the above paragraphs had been sent to the printers I received from an Ameriican anthropologist, the Rev. Owen Dorsey, some essays containing kindred evidence. Of over three dozen songs and chants of the Omaha, Ponka, and other Indians, in some cases given with music and in other cases without, there are but five which have any reference to amatory feeling; and while in these the expression of amatory feeling comes from women, nothing more than derision of them comes from men.