Commentary: “Adaptive Walks on the Fitness Landscape of Music”

The evolution of musical abilities in man was an area of intense interest for Charles Darwin: in his book The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex he discussed the emergence of voice and musical powers in terms of sexual selection and made the case that “the vocal organs were primarily used and perfected in relation to the propagation of the species.” Although music has been performed by people at least as far back as the Paleolithic, musical styles have changed dramatically throughout the ages and differ significantly across geographic regions. We could therefore ask whether musical preferences change according to laws that are similar to those of biological evolution, namely via inheritance, selection, and variations of tunes that are induced by chance.

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