"Some of the strange and lovely things that humans do are so embedded in our
daily rituals that they seem entirely normal, reasonable, and unexceptional. But
how many people sing in the shower, or at a game, or in religious services, or to
your children, or at a karaoke bar, or sing along with Sting when you’re driving
to work? How many of you have a secret romantic anthem you share with your
partner?  If songs were a form of usable fuel, we’d have enough energy from
global love songs alone to sustain the planet in perpetuity. And then there are
drinking songs, sea shanties, soccer songs, songs about nations and nature  -
trees, flowers, mountains, oceans, baby Beluga whales, monkeys, farm animals -
songs for hiking, canoeing, fishing, songs about money and songs about poverty,
songs of laudation and lamentation to celebrate our triumphs and cauterize our
existential griefs - there are even songs about physics and medical research data.
We seem to need to sing about everything.

But have you ever stopped to wonder why humans sing, or how it is that our
larynxes even evolved to facilitate this actually rather odd activity? Charles
Darwin himself could not figure it out – he regarded the evolution of music-
making as one of the most enigmatic and improbable of all our attributes. So
why is it that from Nunavit to Niger, Australia to Austria,  Chile to Chechnya,
Japan to Java, all across the planet for as long as we can track, humans have
created chants or word-songs, impelled by some instinct that tells us that verbal
language is somehow inadequate to sum up the complex entirety of our
experiences, and that sharing stories through music builds powerful bonds and
archives for a community’s strength and legacy. Chant has been a conduit to the
cosmic throughout our species’ journey. And for some reason, wrapping
reverberant tones and pitches around the potent words that our poets assemble
to shake the listening air makes a difference in conveying how we really feel
about what we think, and what we really think about how we feel. Our voices
are like the interface of our interior beings with the outside world. Even when
we feel like we can’t sing, we’re still telling a story.
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