A great many moons ago I put up a post with a (possibly laboured) analogy between memory and the fossil record. Prepare to be possibly enlightened with my next ‘great; brainwave – drawing parallels between music and evolution (and a little ecology).
Music doubtless started off very simply and grew more complex over time. Various styles developed and became more clearly defined (lineages emerging) initially perhaps with quite a lot of overlap (common ancestry and interbreeding still possible) but then became more and more different. Each developed new features (instruments, rhythms etc.) and perhaps even came to occupy specific ‘niches’ (dancing music, reflective music) though of course given time, any style can adapt to provide any kind of feeling or go back to its roots (reversions, convergence). Occasionally entire genres get lost (extinction) and certainly individual aspects get changed or lost or replaced (modification). But just because new things come along, doesn’t mean the old ones die – there is space for all (adaptation) and ideas can be shared (lateral gene transfer perhaps, or even mutualism). Over time, new ideas split off and can become different enough to warrant their own term (speciation). Some can become incredibly popular for a while (novelty and invasives) only to die back later, or dominate for huge periods of time. Certainly each generation influences the next (descent with modification) and adapts to the styles and interests of the day (selective pressures) and it’s hard to separate quite where one thing ends and another begins because ultimately it’s all part of one interconnected continuum and while we may have trouble piece together the dim and distant past, there are certainly excellent signs that ultimately everything is related to everything else.