Rebuttal Rewrite – sillyinternetperson

Call And Response

The human brain is wired to understand music. Some would think that the practice of music is solely a cultural phenomenon and one of the many things we do that biological affinity is not a prerequisite for. However, this is simply not true.

A common misconception about music is that it is shaped by culture. Yes, music can be influenced by culture, however music can have an effect on culture without having to be influenced by it. For example, music aided the civil rights movement by giving minorities a voice in media, all the way up until current day.

At first, folk, then jazz, R&B, Motown, and currently, Rap/Hip-hop. Using these genres as a means of expressing their point of view and exposing the condition of places like the Bronx in the 70’s to the public eye was crucial to their cause. A prime example of this is The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Songs like The Message showed anyone outside of New York City what it was like to live in ghettos dominated by landlords that did not hesitate to burn their homes down for insurance money.

Music permeates culture like a virus. Culture is just the host. However, unlike a virus, it can exist without a culture.

It can be argued that music is an entirely learned practice; that it exists because we created it eons ago and decided to continue its practice. This is true to a degree. Similar to the way we have a model for the English language based on grammar and syntax, we have a model for music based on harmony and rhythm. You could say that music is simply academia in practice, like a demonstration of these qualities music can have. This is also true, however there’s a reason for the academia’s existence in the first place. For the study of language, it is that we speak it and use it to communicate important information. For music, it is that we exist with certain biological properties, such as the ability to interpret pitch.

The human brain is wired to interpret pitch. The only auditory functions that are necessary for our survival are the ability to interpret tone or voice – the shape of a soundwave – the ability to determine where a sound comes from in space, and the ability to determine if a pitch is higher or lower. Tone deaf people can understand if a pitch is higher than another or lower. Being able to identify the intervals between pitches is not necessary for our survival, but something most people do if they have ever hummed a song. Along the same vein, long term pitch memory is also not necessary for our survival, however we can recall our favorite songs. We could live without the ability to replicate the exact pitch that was heard. About 1.5% percent of the population, people affected by tone deafness, live fine without it. Yet, here we are, with the ability to recognize pitch.

Another argument is to put the question of “If we can identify pitch, is music biological as opposed to cultural?” point of view in a different context.

“If we can taste, is food biological as opposed to cultural?”

The answer is yes, it is common sense. That is the reason the statement is not as impactful in the context of music. We are taught about our digestive system and our senses at a young age. Music is taught to children, however the anatomical and psychological concepts are not, simply because they are too complex and irrelevant to what a child needs to know growing up. Food is half the reason for having a tongue, it is a reason for having a nose, it is the reason we avoid bad tasting things and are attracted to good ones. Having this complex system to comprehend taste does not mean our bodies are meant to taste rocks. We think food. It’s the same with pitch recognition, only a portion of our hearing sense. The sound of rocks is a topic that will not often show up in a conversation about music, same as rocks to the conversation of food, even though you can taste a rock and hear a rock moving against something else.

We can use our senses to perceive anything, but there’s a specific reason for having each sense in the first place. For hearing, it is to be aware of things that create sound, and within that, pitch recognition is to listen to and/or create music. For taste, it is to gauge the benefit or danger of whatever we intend to ingest, the ability to taste, say sweet things, is to gather carbohydrates. Each type of flavor exists to quench a nutritional craving or warn us. Consider pitch to be a flavor of sound.

It is possible that humans found social/cultural value in music, same as language. If that is the case, it is no wonder the two functions evolved alongside each other. Music and language comprehension more closely related than one would think. In asking the question of whether tone deafness is hereditary or not, a study found that using genetic speech impediments was the quickest route to discovering the answer.

No matter which way you slice it, music is embedded in us.


Peretz, I., Cummings, S., & Dubé, M. P. (2007). The genetics of congenital amusia (tone deafness): a family-aggregation study. American journal of human genetics81(3), 582–588.

Witynski, M. (n.d.). Perfect pitch, explain. What Is Perfect Pitch? | The University of Chicago. Retrieved October 17, 2022.

About sillyinternetperson

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3 Responses to Rebuttal Rewrite – sillyinternetperson

  1. sillyinternetperson says:

    Let me know if I could have formatted the essay a bit different. Things like how each idea is separated. Also, almost all of the information is from my own learning, like the whole civil rights bit. This leaves little for me to cite, should I be worried about that?

  2. sillyinternetperson says:

    Also, I know I’m late to the party, but I’m supposed to composite these three essays into one, correct?

  3. davidbdale says:

    Revised late. Grade will have to wait.

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