Abstract and Keywords
We can learn much about music and its ontogenetic origins by examining infants’ initial musical abilities and how these abilities change with age and musical exposure. Caregivers typically provide a wealth of music or music-like stimulation by means of melodious speech and multimodal singing. Their singing is highly engaging to infants and even more so when accompanied by visual gestures and movement. Infants are not only sensitive to expressive features of music; they are also sensitive to subtle differences in pitch and timing patterns. They begin as universalists, being equally sensitive to musical distinctions in their own culture and others, but they become increasingly proficient with patterns from their native culture. By the end of their first year, most infants engage in rudimentary dancing, and rudimentary singing follows some months later. Overall, infant musicality and its development seem to be as natural and as remarkable as infant language development.
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