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The selfish meme: Particularity, replication, and evolution in musical style

Jan, Steven (1999) The selfish meme: Particularity, replication, and evolution in musical style. International Journal of Musicology, 8. pp. 9-76. ISSN 0941-9535

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Richard Dawkins's The selfish gene (1976) introduced the idea that human culture is constituted of units passed, by imitation, among members of a community in a manner analogous to the genes of biological forms. These fundamental units of cultural transmission, which Dawkins termed 'memes', to parallel 'genes' and to suggest mimesis or imitation, exist fundamentally as patterns of neuronal interconnection in the human brain, although they are manifested in the form of patterns in the visual and aural realms--a distinction mirroring the one between the genotype (genetic complement) and phenotype (the morphological and behavioral manifestation of the genotype) of living forms. To demonstrate the way such a concept can operate in musicology, various memes are identified in the music of the Classic era. Longterm style evolution over centuries is demonstrated with attention to the history of cadences in Western tonal music, from the 15th c. to Wagner's 'Tristan' chord.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: UoA 67 (Music)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
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Depositing User: Graham Stone
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2008 11:33
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 10:40


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