Geissmann, T. (2000). Gibbon songs and human music from an evolutionary perspective. In: The origins of music. Wallin, N.; Merker, B. & Brown, S. (eds.), pp. 103-123, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-23206-5

Gibbon songs and human music from an evolutionary perspective

T. Geissmann
Institute of Zoology, Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover

Key Words: Song; music; duet song; gibbons; loud calls; primates; dance; display.

Abstract: Gibbons (Hylobates spp.) produce loud and long song bouts that are mostly exhibited by mated pairs. Typically, mates combine their partly sex-specific repertoire in relatively rigid, precisely timed, and complex vocal interactions to produce well-patterned duets. A cross-species comparison reveals that singing behavior evolved several times independently in the order of primates. Most likely, loud calls were the substrate from which singing evolved in each line. Structural and behavioral similarities suggest that, of all vocalizations produced by nonhuman primates, loud calls of Old World monkeys and apes are the most likely candidates for models of a precursor of human singing and, thus, human music.

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