Thursday, March 10, 2011


Sustainability or sustainable development has to consider the indicators of society as one of the important pillars. Society dimension of sustainable development can be enriched through larger formation of social capital. Formation of networks between people lead to a formation of this social capital. For forming those networks people need to stay connected and bonded. For staying bonded through happiness, exchange of positive feelings and energy is important. Music plays a key role in creating this feeling. It is said that music plays a very important role in making bondage between people and creating networks that can form new domains and levels of social capital which can therefore add onto sustainability. Music controls and enhances the positive emotions between two people which can control the quality of the social capital formed through music. This improvement in the quality of social capital thereby enhances the quality of sustainability.
Research has been suggesting that music has its origin to genes and history of language. So if one traces back this origin, then can we say that genes, history of language, sound, rhythm which guides the course of the type of music also plays a role in creating social capital by building more human bondage, networks. This bondage thereafter also contributes to sustainability. So this raises the question whether genes, history of language also plays a role to sustainability.
So while writing this article, I thought to name it as – “GENE, LANGUAGE to MUSIC and SUSTAINABILITY”. However the idea of this association arrived only after reading a paper titled – “ Speak to me, melody, EMBO (European Molecular Biological Organisation) Reports, Science and Society, Vol, 10, No.12, 2009, Pgs. 1294 – 1297”. The paper was given to me for reading by my friend Kostuv Basu.
Association through music can happen between individuals who share like minded or overlapping interest in music. This sharing can help in creating the social capital thereby finally leading to an enhancement in the sustainability.
But the key question is what determines a like mindedness about a particular type of music between two individuals that can help in formation of the social capital and hence can address the sustainability dimension of sustainable development.
Does genetic component play a key role in our musical abilities? Studies on molecular biology has shown that genetic loci of individuals in certain families can have genes that can guide the musical aptitude of the members of the family. Such aptitudes thereafter also determines the taste and preference for music by any particular individual. Results from studies in molecular biology are showing that the creative abilities of individuals in a hereditary lineage are largely determined by the gene structures. These gene structures in turn also affect the behavior of the individuals regarding their music preferences, tastes and chances of bonding with other individuals through music.
So the behavior of attachment of people through a communicating medium of music which forms social capital is very much determined by some of the genetic secrets of neurobiology that are embedded in human beings.
But there is an alternate school also to this thought process. Many neurobiologists and scientists across the world donot believe in the fact that music can be only understood on the basis of genetics. According to this school of thought, vibration of vocal chords determine the tonal and music quality. The nature, degree of the vibration determines the quality of music that can create an association between two human beings. Further this vibration is actually generating a sound wave with a particular frequency. So the typicality of a sound wave, frequency determines the quality aspect of the music rather the gene. Hence any preference for music is embedded in the sense of sound structure that any human body creates.
So two human beings can associate with a particular form of music if they can understand and appreciate similar kind of sound structures that the human body creates. A similar logic can also hold between the sense of appreciation of a speech of one human being by another which further leads to a bonding and formation of a social capital. Many neurobiologists, scientists feel that music and language have similar overlapping cognitive systems. So music can be connected and seen as a form of speech having origins to sound structures. Further these sound structures are connected to origins of language. In some ways one can say that music is a form of speech. This brings forward the question whether music is related to language through a process of evolution. However this can only be known if one gets the answer that whether music when heard has a language and genetic component which gets dissociated in the brain. These facts will be important as then one can also bring in how an anthropological history in language origins and evolution of music plays a role towards formation of human bondings and hence social capital which is key to sustainability.
So one has to seek the answer to the question whether creative genes, sound structures operate simultaneously or separately to determine the preferences of music and hence selection of human beings for bonding leading to creation of social capital. Timing of rhythm can determine the cohesiveness of a cultural human bonding that can generate greater social capital and enhance sustainability.
Roots of language, genes will determine the behavior pattern of a child and will also affect the preferences of the human beings in applying music in forming social capital through bondage. The exact contribution of the language, evolution of anthropology, rhythm, sound structures is yet to be determined. Also it is not known how much separated gene, language and rhythm contents of a music and how the degree and nature of that separation guides a preference for music and hence attributes to the formation of social capital block of sustainability.

May be its not far, when we will find out active participation of anthropologists, neurobiologists, ethnomusicologists in the negotiation platforms of the global debates surrounding several issues of sustainability in the world arena.