Savage, Patrick



Faculty of Environment and Information Studies (Shonan Fujisawa)


Associate Professor

Related Websites


Books 【 Display / hide

  • Comparative musicology: The science of the world's music [Under contract]

    Patrick E. SAVAGE, Oxford University Press [under contract], 2021

Papers 【 Display / hide

  • Sequence alignment of folk song melodies reveals cross-cultural regularities of musical evolution

    PE Savage, S Passmore, G Chiba, TE Currie, H Suzuki, QD Atkinson

    Current Biology 32 (6), 1395-1402. e8 (Current Biology)  32 ( 6 ) 1395 - 1402.e8 2022.03

    ISSN  09609822

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    Culture evolves,1–5 but the existence of cross-culturally general regularities of cultural evolution is debated.6–8 As a diverse but universal cultural phenomenon, music provides a novel domain to test for the existence of such regularities.9–12 Folk song melodies can be thought of as culturally transmitted sequences of notes that change over time under the influence of cognitive and acoustic/physical constraints.9–15 Modeling melodies as evolving sequences constructed from an “alphabet” of 12 scale degrees16 allows us to quantitatively test for the presence of cross-cultural regularities using a sample of 10,062 melodies from musically divergent Japanese and English (British/American) folk song traditions.17,18 Our analysis identifies 328 pairs of highly related melodies, finding that note changes are more likely when they have smaller impacts on a song's melody. Specifically, (1) notes with stronger rhythmic functions are less likely to change, and (2) note substitutions are most likely between neighboring notes. We also find that note insertions/deletions (“indels”) are more common than note substitutions, unlike genetic evolution where the reverse is true. Our results are consistent across English and Japanese samples despite major differences in their scales and tonal systems. These findings demonstrate that even a creative art form such as music is subject to evolutionary constraints analogous to those governing the evolution of genes, languages, and other domains of culture.

  • Global relationships between musical, linguistic, and genetic diversity

    S Passmore, ALC Wood, C Barbieri, D Shilton, H Daikoku, Q Atkinson, ...

    PsyArXiv. March 11  2022

  • Phylogenetic reconstruction of the cultural evolution of electronic music via dynamic community detection (1975–1999)

    M Youngblood, K Baraghith, PE Savage

    Evolution and Human Behavior 42 (6), 573-582 (Evolution and Human Behavior)  42 ( 6 ) 573 - 582 2021.11

    ISSN  10905138

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    Phylogenetic trees or networks representing cultural evolution are typically built using methods from biology that use similarities and differences in cultural traits to infer the historical relationships between the populations that produced them. While these methods have yielded important insights, researchers continue to debate the extent to which cultural phylogenies are tree-like or reticulated due to high levels of horizontal transmission. In this study, we propose a novel method for phylogenetic reconstruction using dynamic community detection that focuses not on the cultural traits themselves (e.g., musical features), but the people creating them (musicians). We used data from 1,498,483 collaborative relationships between electronic music artists to construct a cultural phylogeny based on observed population structure. The results suggest that, although vertical transmission appears to be dominant, the potential for horizontal transmission (indexed by between-population linkage) is relatively high and populations never become fully isolated from one another. In addition, we found evidence that electronic music diversity has increased between 1975 and 1999. The method used in this study is available as a new R package called DynCommPhylo. Future studies should apply this method to other cultural systems such as academic publishing and film, as well as biological systems where high resolution reproductive data is available, and develop formal inferential models to assess how levels of reticulation in evolution vary across domains.

  • Toward inclusive theories of the evolution of musicality

    PE Savage, P Loui, B Tarr, A Schachner, L Glowacki, S Mithen, WT Fitch

    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44 (Behavioral and Brain Sciences)  44   132 - 140 2021.09

    ISSN  0140525X

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    We compare and contrast the 60 commentaries by 109 authors on the pair of target articles by Mehr et al. and ourselves. The commentators largely reject Mehr et al.'s fundamental definition of music and their attempts to refute (1) our social bonding hypothesis, (2) byproduct hypotheses, and (3) sexual selection hypotheses for the evolution of musicality. Instead, the commentators generally support our more inclusive proposal that social bonding and credible signaling mechanisms complement one another in explaining cooperation within and competition between groups in a coevolutionary framework (albeit with some confusion regarding terminologies such as byproduct and exaptation). We discuss the proposed criticisms and extensions, with a focus on moving beyond adaptation/byproduct dichotomies and toward testing of cross-species, cross-cultural, and other empirical predictions.

  • Music as a coevolved system for social bonding

    PE Savage, P Loui, B Tarr, A Schachner, L Glowacki, S Mithen, WT Fitch

    Behavioral and Brain Sciences (Behavioral and Brain Sciences)  44 2021

    Research paper (scientific journal), Joint Work, Accepted,  ISSN  0140525X

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    Why do humans make music? Theories of the evolution of musicality have focused mainly on the value of music for specific adaptive contexts such as mate selection, parental care, coalition signaling, and group cohesion. Synthesizing and extending previous proposals, we argue that social bonding is an overarching function that unifies all of these theories, and that musicality enabled social bonding at larger scales than grooming and other bonding mechanisms available in ancestral primate societies. We combine cross-disciplinary evidence from archaeology, anthropology, biology, musicology, psychology, and neuroscience into a unified framework that accounts for the biological and cultural evolution of music. We argue that the evolution of musicality involves gene-culture coevolution, through which proto-musical behaviors that initially arose and spread as cultural inventions had feedback effects on biological evolution due to their impact on social bonding. We emphasize the deep links between production, perception, prediction, and social reward arising from repetition, synchronization, and harmonization of rhythms and pitches, and summarize empirical evidence for these links at the levels of brain networks, physiological mechanisms, and behaviors across cultures and across species. Finally, we address potential criticisms and make testable predictions for future research, including neurobiological bases of musicality and relationships between human music, language, animal song, and other domains. The music and social bonding (MSB) hypothesis provides the most comprehensive theory to date of the biological and cultural evolution of music.

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Papers, etc., Registered in KOARA 【 Display / hide

Reviews, Commentaries, etc. 【 Display / hide

  • Retraction Note: Complex societies precede moralizing gods throughout world history (Nature, (2019), 568, 7751, (226-229), 10.1038/s41586-019-1043-4)

    Whitehouse H., François P., Savage P.E., Currie T.E., Feeney K.C., Cioni E., Purcell R., Ross R.M., Larson J., Baines J., ter Haar B., Covey A., Turchin P.

    Nature (Nature)  595 ( 7866 )  2021.07

    ISSN  00280836

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    Following the publication of this Letter, Beheim and colleagues submitted a Matters Arising in which they argued that our primary results were called into question by our treatment of missing data1. In our research, we attempted to test the ‘big gods’ hypothesis even-handedly using the best available evidence, and we made our data and code available during the review process and after publication, in line with best practice in open science. Nevertheless, we accept that we should have labelled moralizing gods as ‘absent’ or ‘inferred absent’ rather than ‘unknown’ in portions of our dataset before the dates of the first appearance, rather than converting ‘NAs’ to zeros during the phase of analysis. Since this Letter was published, we have thoroughly refined our data and analyses, and have found that our original conclusions are still strongly supported2,3. However, the differences between our revised analyses and the original Letter are substantial enough to warrant a Retraction of the original Letter. We have submitted the enhanced analyses for peer review and potential publication in another journal. We encourage the community to refer to these new papers in future instead of this now-retracted Letter. We apologize to the scientific community for the unintended confusion. 1. Beheim, B. et al. Treatment of missing data determined conclusions regarding moralizing gods. Nature (2021). 2. Whitehouse, H. et al. Big Gods did not drive the rise of big societies throughout world history. Preprint at (2021). 3. Turchin, P., et al. Explaining the rise of moralizing religions: A test of competing hypotheses using the Seshat Databank. Preprint at (2019).

  • Complex societies precede moralizing gods throughout world history

    Whitehouse H., François P., Savage P., Currie T., Feeney K., Cioni E., Purcell R., Ross R., Larson J., Baines J., ter Haar B., Covey A., Turchin P.

    Nature (Nature)  568 ( 7751 ) 226 - 229 2019.04

    Article, review, commentary, editorial, etc. (scientific journal), Joint Work,  ISSN  00280836

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    © 2019, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited. The origins of religion and of complex societies represent evolutionary puzzles 1–8 . The ‘moralizing gods’ hypothesis offers a solution to both puzzles by proposing that belief in morally concerned supernatural agents culturally evolved to facilitate cooperation among strangers in large-scale societies 9–13 . Although previous research has suggested an association between the presence of moralizing gods and social complexity 3,6,7,9–18 , the relationship between the two is disputed 9–13,19–24 , and attempts to establish causality have been hampered by limitations in the availability of detailed global longitudinal data. To overcome these limitations, here we systematically coded records from 414 societies that span the past 10,000 years from 30 regions around the world, using 51 measures of social complexity and 4 measures of supernatural enforcement of morality. Our analyses not only confirm the association between moralizing gods and social complexity, but also reveal that moralizing gods follow—rather than precede—large increases in social complexity. Contrary to previous predictions 9,12,16,18 , powerful moralizing ‘big gods’ and prosocial supernatural punishment tend to appear only after the emergence of ‘megasocieties’ with populations of more than around one million people. Moralizing gods are not a prerequisite for the evolution of social complexity, but they may help to sustain and expand complex multi-ethnic empires after they have become established. By contrast, rituals that facilitate the standardization of religious traditions across large populations 25,26 generally precede the appearance of moralizing gods. This suggests that ritual practices were more important than the particular content of religious belief to the initial rise of social complexity.

  • REPLY TO TOSH ET AL.: Quantitative analyses of cultural evolution require engagement with historical and archaeological research

    Currie, Thomas E., Turchin, Peter, Whitehouse, Harvey, Francois, Pieter, Feeney, Kevin, Mullins, Daniel, Hoyer, Daniel, Collins, Christina, Grohmann, Stephanie, Savage, Patrick E., Mendel-Gleason, Gavin, Turner, Edward, Dupeyron, Agathe, Cioni, Enrico, Reddish, Jenny, Levine, Jill, Jordan, Greine, Brandl, Eva, Williams, Alice, Cesaretti, Rudolf, Krueger, Marta, Ceccarelli, Alessandro, Figliulo-Rosswurm, Joe, Tuan, Po-Ju, Peregrine, Peter, Marciniak, Arkadiusz, Preiser-Kapeller, Johannes, Kradin, Nikolay, Korotayev, Andrey, Palmisano, Alessio, Baker, David, Bidmead, Julye, Bol, Peter, Christian, David, Cook, Connie, Covey, Alan, Feinman, Gary, Juliusson, Arni Daniel, Kristinsson, Axel, Miksic, John, Mostern, Ruth, Petrie, Cameron, Rudiak-Gould, Peter, ter Haar, Barend, Wallace, Vesna, Mair, Victor, Xie, Liye, Baines, John, Bridges, Elizabeth, Manning, Joseph, Lockhart, Bruce, Bogaard, Amy, Spencer, Charles

    PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America)  115 ( 26 ) E5841 - E5842 2018.06

    Article, review, commentary, editorial, etc. (scientific journal), Joint Work,  ISSN  0027-8424

Research Projects of Competitive Funds, etc. 【 Display / hide

  • Understanding global diversity in music perception and production


    Keio University, Fund for the Promotion of Joint International Research (Fostering Joint International Research (B)), No Setting

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    Music is a human universal, but there remains little data on cross-cultural musical variation. We will perform a series of experiments investigating global diversity in perception and production of musical 1) rhythm, 2) melody, 3) harmony, 4) language, 5) creativity, and 6) cooperation. In total we will conduct experiments with thousands of musicians and non-musicians from over a dozen countries around the world. Our findings will have implications for understanding the evolution of music and its place in society, including for composers, instrument manufacturers, copyright legislators, etc.

  • Cross-cultural diversity in perception and production of musical pitch


    MEXT,JSPS, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, Grant-in-Aid for Early-Career Scientists , Principal investigator

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    There is little cross-cultural data on the degree of variation in musical production and perception with which to understand the evolution of music. I propose to address this problem through a combination of 1) automated acoustic analysis of ~300 recordings of music, speech, and bird song recordings, and 2) perceptual experiments on ~300 participants from Japan and the USA. By synthesizing global data on pitch production and perception, I aim to shed new light on the way biology and culture combine to create human music, with important practical implications for the music industry.

  • Automatic analysis of the world’s music


    Keio Research Institute at SFC, Startup Grant, #HPatrick E. Savage#H, Research grant, Principal investigator

  • Untangling the biological and cultural foundations of musical scales


    Keio University, Keio Gijuku Academic Development Funds, #HPatrick E. Savage#H, Research grant, Principal investigator

  • Musical evolution and human migration


    Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology (MEXT), Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship, #HPatrick E. Savage#H, Research grant, Principal investigator

Awards 【 Display / hide

  • Hirayama Ikuo Arts and Culture Prize

    #HPatrick E. Savage#H + 2 others, 2017, Tokyo University of the Arts

    Type of Award: Award from publisher, newspaper, foundation, etc.

  • Ikushi Prize

    #HPatrick E. Savage#H + 16 others, 2017, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Measuring the cultural evolution of music: With case studies of British-American and Japanese folk, art, and popular music

    Type of Award: Other


Courses Taught 【 Display / hide











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