Gary Tomlinson

John Hay Whitney Professor of Music and Humanities, Yale University

Panel: Deep Time & Intelligence

Gary Tomlinson, A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity. 2015, Zone Books.

Gary Tomlinson has recently put forward an audacious origin story for articulate human speech. Whereas many scholars have posited a burst of cultural activity due to a supposed “discovery” of language by our ancient ancestors—around 100,000 to 60,000 years ago—Tomlinson brings his musical sensibility to bear on this timeline, positing instead 1,000,000 years of proto-musical gesture calling and sonorous stone tool crafting. “Deep Time & Intelligence” features Tomlinson amidst other thinkers of the sonic modality of intelligence and its role in evolutionary and individual timelines for learning, thinking, and music-making.

Biography: Yale University

Symposium Schedule

Panel: Deep Time & Intelligence
Video Release: Friday, April 2, 2021 / 9:00am EST
Live Q&A: Monday, April 5, 2021 / 11:00am–12:00pm EST

Related Works

Culture and the Course of Human Evolution

2018, University of Chicago Press

Culture and the Course of Human Evolution is aimed at both scientists and humanists, and it makes the case that neither side alone can answer the most important questions about our origins.

Music and Historical Critique

2007, Routledge

A retrospective view of the author’s achievements in bringing to the heart of musicological discourse both deep-seated experiences of the past and meditations on the historian’s ways of understanding them.

A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity

2015, Zone Books

Tomlinson builds a model of human evolution that revises our understanding of the interaction of biology and culture across evolutionary time-scales, challenging and enriching current models of our deep history. As he tells his story, he draws in other emerging human traits: language, symbolism, a metaphysical imagination and the ritual it gives rise to, complex social structure, and the use of advanced technologies.