Darwin’s Top 40

Music evolves over the years

Imagine listening to “Dark Horse” on a loop for a week. Even if you adore Katy Perry, you would begin to detest the song long before your seven days are up. This is the evolution of music at work.

Over a hundred years ago, Charles Darwin hypothesized that animals have the tendency to change over time and will both drop and acquire distinctive traits in order to survive and to thrive.

Scientists are beginning to relate this theory of the evolution of life to music.

“The first time you hear something, it is exciting,” explains Marian Dagosta, evolutionary biology professor at Northwestern University, “over time as you familiarize yourself with it, the song does not evoke that same emotion.”

Whether you plug in to your iPod during passing period, rehearse your saxophone solo at band practice, or blast music over speakers while you do homework, you are, in some way, dictating how music should evolve.

The constantly changing “Top Ten” lists on popular music hubs provide considerable evidence for this theory. It’s Miley one week, Bieber the next, and then some random guys from Norway another.
Charles Darwin speculated that in order to evolve, animals adapt due to their surroundings. This translates to music in the form that artists are constantly in search of how to captivate their audience and do it differently than before. “When you hear something you haven’t heard before, it gets your attention right away,” remarks junior Sam Brewer.

“A couple decades ago, no one thought you could make music with a computer,” says Sam, “and now you see that everywhere. That’s just how music is, everyone is always trying to put their spin on something to make it better, newer and more interesting.”

Not only does music’s rapid evolution put a pressure onto artists, but also onto the listeners. “People are always looking for a new artist, someone no one has heard before,” says sophomore Zane Kashner. “If music becomes too mainstream, I think people stop listening to it.”

Music’s rampant change has caused artists to test new boundaries in order to be considered unique. National Public Radio (NPR) recently featured a man who recorded a full song only with parts of a bicycle. In regard to the NPR story, junior Aly Singleton comments, “people are inspired by what is around them.” She adds, “musicians just want to make something beautiful.”

Whether Darwin could have predicted Miley twerking, the saga of Bieber or what the fox actually says is highly skeptical. However, there is no doubt that his theories on evolution can be directly linked to how humans enjoy music every day.