Music, Cognition and the Origins of Music

Extra seminar by Henkjan Honing (the Darwin Day vorspiel lecturer!)


While it recently became quite popular to address the study of the origins of music from an evolutionary perspective, there is still little agreement on the idea that music is in fact an adaptation, that it influenced our survival, or that it made us sexually more attractive (to mention two prevalent positions). Music appears to be of little use. So why argue that music is an adaptation? While it is virtually impossible to underpin the evolutionary role of musicality as a whole, the apparent innateness, and the species and cognitive specificity of its hypothesized components allow prof. dr. Henkjan Honing to outline what makes us musical animals.

Biographical Note

Henkjan Honing holds a KNAW-Hendrik Muller chair in Music Cognition at the University of Amsterdam and conducts his research under the auspices of the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), and the University of Amsterdam’s Cognitive Science Center Amsterdam (CSCA). He is known as a passionate researcher in this new interdisciplinary field that gives us fundamental insights in the cognitive mechanisms underlying musicality. Honing recently published a book for a general audience entitled ‘Musical Cognition: A Science of Listening’ (Transaction Publishers, 2011;

Published Feb. 6, 2013 11:43 AM - Last modified Feb. 6, 2013 1:38 PM