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Something has been on my mind since Queer as Folk last night, and my friends haven't been the most helpful with the answer.

Here's the issue . . . What is the evolutionary reason we, as a society, find musicians attractive? Our genes cause us to be drawn to people who are more prone to produce offspring-women with hips, men who are muscular, so on and so forth (yes, even us gayfolk, who really aren't prone to procreating). So why do we, as a society, place a premium on musicians? What's evolutionarily beneficial about music?

Some of my friends thought it was a status issue, that musicians were held in high esteem in early societies, and were therefore allowed to reproduce more. Plausible, I guess, but it isn't ringing true for me.

I want to know what you think. tick043, your answer is particularly wanted, as the biology major among us.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
mslinds007
May. 13th, 2002 03:00 pm (UTC)
I don't know the answer, but I sure as heck can support your observation. Hang a guitar around a man's neck and give him a rockstar look, and it's gonna get interesting . . .

hehehe
coell
May. 13th, 2002 06:45 pm (UTC)
Procreation sucks.
Yeah, that USED to be the case... but don't you worry that our subconcious has lost control of our attraction? Phermones aside, are we choosing "mates" anymore? After all, if we were really concerned about the future of our species, we'd reward the healthy people with offspring and encourage unhealthy people to stop having babies. (Read disabilities, diseases, obesity, etc). Instead, we're so obsessed with equality that we're allowing those genes to be passed on. I'm not getting Gattica on you, or saying that genocide is called for (because those are arbitary factors, BUT...).

I think musical talent is not one of the biological motivators of attraction. It's a social construct, the mythos of the rock star. Fame vicariously through your partner, enjoyment of their music, songs inspired by you, envy of his/her fans? Perhaps psychologically we're attracted to song writers because it's an outlet for emotion and we like emtionally-outletted people? For those that play instruments, that takes dedication and persistance, both needed in long-tern relationships and child-raising?
tick043
May. 14th, 2002 11:53 am (UTC)
The moment you've been waiting for
So Wow... hum... From a biologically evolutionary stand point, evolution has nothing to do with personal preferences. Evolution is nothing more than a species trying to adapt itself to the environment around, in a physical sense. For example... Giraffs(sp) used to have short necks. Once upon a long time ago. They were able to survive and adapt by over time growing longer necks to reach high up into the trees. Another example has to do with habitat fragmentation. We as humans build roads and buildings. These man-made obstructions section off the once prestine environment that organisms had to live in. Now these sections are much different from each other, yet the same species lives in each of the sections. These species has had to adapt and evolve into an organism that could survive in the environment that we left it. Well... that's evolution from a Darwinian perspective. Of which I am a firm believer. As for how we as humans can be attracted to certain quailites in another human. I entirely believe that these attractions are nothing more than a societal instilled standard. Look at how people with "beautiful" bodies are treated. You see muscle men on TV, magazines, porn... You also see toothpick sized women as centerfolds, on billboards etc. People like this are raised above the level of "normal" society. Therefore, we are almost forced to see these types of people as beautiful. As for the musician stand point. Other than the fact that I have no freekin clue... I think it's the same kinda of thing. We see them all the time, weither on album covers, billboards, MTV. So therefore they are basically thrown at us. Also think back to when our grandparents grandparents grandparents were children. All they had was music. No TV. Therefore society has grown up with the idea that Music was everything. Look at Bach, Bethoven, etc... They made beautiful music. I think that people tend to associate the beauty in music with the composer. Hence, the attraction to the person. My question now is... Why are we not attracted to visual artists?
hapgood
May. 14th, 2002 01:18 pm (UTC)
Re: The moment you've been waiting for
Evolution has nothing to do with personal preferences? I beg to differ. Considering an intelligent (please don't attack me for using the connotation of intelligent rather than going into the lengthy qualifications of said term) species, personal preference determines who one propogates with, and therefore determines which genes will be passed into the next generation, which is what evolution is all about, getting the chance to make a bunch o' babies like yourself.

But the gist of my original post is: Why do we value musical ability? I can understand your point that media messages influence us, but, given the general prevalence of this preference, I wanted to explore a potential genetic answer.
tick043
May. 14th, 2002 01:24 pm (UTC)
Re: The moment you've been waiting for
It is possible that something has caused a genetictally chemical response... but as far as my views on evolution.. I see it as a physical adaptation, something that is necessary for your survival. Not so much a preference adaptation.
tooling
May. 14th, 2002 08:24 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... I would have to say that musicians are held in such status because they sing about things that so many different people can relate to on a personal basis. I believe the same thing goes for TV personalities as well. People bond to the character just like they bond with the musician and what they are singing about.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )