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The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth
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The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth (Hardback)

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A world-leading musicologist tells the extraordinary story of humankind's relationship with music across evolutionary time.

165 million years ago saw the birth of rhythm.

66 million years ago was the first melody.

40 thousand years ago Homo sapiens created the first musical instrument.

Today music fills our lives: it is in our homes and on our streets. How we have created, performed and listened to this music throughout history has defined what our species is and how we understand who we are. Music is an overlooked part of our origin story. Here, the fascinating history of the musical human is told for the first time.

The Musical Human takes us on an exhilarating journey across the ages - from Eminem to Mozart and back through the millenia - to explore the vibrant relationship between music and the human species. Integrating insights from a wealth of disciplines, world-leading musicologist Michael Spitzer brings together the three great realms of music to render a global history of music on the widest possible canvas: music in our everyday lives; music in world history; and music in evolution, from insects, birds and whales through apes, hominins, people and AI.

Through this journey we begin to understand how music is situated at the crux of distinctly human experiences of cognition, feeling and even biology, widening, and sometimes closing, the evolutionary gaps between ourselves and animals in surprising ways.

The Musical Human boldly puts the case that music is the most important thing we ever did; it is a fundamental part of what makes us human.

Michael Spitzer is Professor of Music at the University of Liverpool. He was born in Nigeria of Hungarian parents, brought up in Israel, and emigrated to the UK during the Yom Kippur war in 1973. He was educated at Merton College, Oxford and Southampton, and taught for twenty years at Durham University. An accomplished pianist, Spitzer is a world-leading authority on Beethoven, but he also writes widely on the philosophy and psychology of music. He lives just off Penny Lane with his wife and two daughters.

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