1.8 Why dancing/singing?

This development towards better expression through more refined body control affected both dancing and singing. First the dancing. Our ancestors were sharing emotions in an ever more ritualized mode of body language: their bodily expression of experiences, feelings and thoughts evolved into a kind of ballet, of formal dancing. In the course of this evolution, the specific gestures for specific meanings became more formally stylized. A more modern example of extremely stylized and formalized dancing is the 19th century Balinese religious dancing (as described by Dutch colonials) where women told a complex story without any word – just by dancing. In a way, present-day sign language for the deaf functions in a similar way: especially when this concerns a message with emotional and/or religious content, the sign language may look like a kind of ballet dancing.

Next the singing. Our ancestors were like bonobos, so much more expressive than chimpanzees, who are more silent. Just like their dancing was gradually ritualized, the accompanying cries and calls underwent ritualizing in the evening-after-evening performances. Over the generations, this gradually led to better neurological voice control. The more meaning and information one can convey by voice, the more impressive and effective the resulting performance will be.

I will get back to this combination of dancing and singing later, in the context of the origin of our religious feelings.

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Used abbreviations

GHs: gatherers/hunters (the phase from 2 million years ago to 10.000 years ago)

AGRs: agriculturers (the phase from 10.000 years ago till now)

NT(s)Neanderthal people

MSA(s): Middle Stone Age people (African NTs)

AMH(s): Anatomical Modern Humans (H sapiens people), like we are

(m)ya: (million) years ago

ANBOs: Ancestor Bonobos (ape-men), our earliest human ancestors

Paleos: all scientists that are important for our story.