Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Glib remarks on "Correlations in the population structure of music, genes and language"

The original article Correlations in the population structure of music, genes and language is now paywalled by the so-called Proceedings of the Royal Society, I could log in using Facebook Oauth voodoo but I don't feel like  it, so as I won't be quoting from it, I'll just misrepresent and mischaracterize it, internet-style.

Here's the money shot, or, if you will, the tl;dr:  "An examination of population structure for genetics showed stronger parallels to music than to language".

One might think, "One wandering minstrel and the whole model crumbles".  Popular music today has certainly no limits, but even in the Bronze Age stories and songs wandered.

This study would have us believe that on Taiwan, an island slightly smaller than the combined area of MA, CT and RI, there were distinct districts of genes and music.  We know that in pre-Columbian times, the Algonquian peoples of southern New England would and could from the Berkshires to the ocean and back, maybe even every year, but the aboriginal peoples of Taiwan apparently kept apart from each other.  Or liked different music, because of cultural identity and religion, and taste?  What about the Malay and Polynesian folks who long ago descended from one or more of these Taiwanese groups?

I think we need a Papua New Guinea study.

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