Charles Darwin had an unexpected theory on music’s origins. He suggested that human music, like the acoustic communication of songbirds, is a sexually selected adaptation for courtship. Men sing to attract potential mates, and women accept the males they fi nd the most appealing. Darwin based his theory on the similarity between birdsong and human music. The social context of his argument also informed much of the substance of this idea. Darwin’s perception of gender and music, as well as his belief that music and birdsong were alike, was necessarily conditioned by his nineteenthcentury Anglo-American worldview. He believed that women were passive beings lacking true artistic talent, and that music was the elegant product of civilized European societies. However, given this worldview, his theory of music is both surprising and contradictory. Darwin’s personal views on music and gender support a traditional upper-class Victorian perspective, but his scholarly writings are not fully in concert. It seems as though Darwin’s social understandings confl ict with his observations as a scientist.1