The origins of the aesthetic enjoyment of music A review of the literature
Brattico, E., Brattico P. & Jacobsen, T. (2009). The origins of the aesthetic enjoyment of music A review of the literature. Musicae Scientiae, Special issue 2009-2010, 15-39.
Listeners attribute a positive or negative value to music. This aesthetic experience is known to be observable over the individuals entire life span, from early childhood to old age, and in every culture. It is then often concluded that such an aesthetic experience constitutes part of the human nature, having an important biological foundation. This assumption leads to the question of how aesthetic experience of music originated in the biological evolution. In this paper, we will explore this question in the light of evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, and systems neuroscience. After reviewing the existing proposals, we conclude that the explanation of the origin of aesthetic experience in music is likely to involve a more heterogeneous set of biological mechanisms than what is often assumed.