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Music is an important part of our lives. We connect and interact with it daily and use it as a way of projecting our self-identities to the people around us. The music we enjoy – whether it’s country or classical, rock n’ roll or rap – who we are.
But where did music, at its core, first come from? It’s a puzzling question that may not have a definitive answer. One researcher, however, has proposed that the key to understanding the origin of music is nestled snugly in the loving bond between mother and child.
In a lecture at the University of Melbourne, Richard Parncutt, an Australian-born professor of systematic musicology, endorsed the idea that music originally spawned from ‘motherese’ – the playful voices mothers when speaking to infants and toddlers.
As the theory goes, increased human brain sizes caused by evolutionary changes occurring between one and 2,000,000 years ago resulted in earlier births, more fragile infants and a need for stronger relationships between mothers and their newborn babies. According to Parncutt, who is based at the University of Graz in Austria, ‘motherese’ arose as a way to strengthen this maternal bond and to help an infant’s survival.