Rituals, Music, and the Landscape Metaphor

Dor Shilton, Eva Jablonka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this commentary, we discuss two aspects of The Ritual Animal’s (2021) rich and multidimensional framework which may be further developed: the role of music and euphoric rituals within Harvey Whitehouse’s modes theory, and the use of the landscape model for studying socio-cultural systems. We note the strong, cross-cultural association of music and religious rituals, consider the suitability of music for such practices, and suggest further research on how the use of music may accommodate both imagistic and doctrinal rituals. We then describe the social landscape model used by Whitehouse and consider his proposal to extend the model through the consideration of multiple landscapes at different levels. We accept his suggestion to explicitly include underlying and over-lying networks of inputs but argue that since the interacting networks are not external to but constitutive of the landscape, a single landscape with multiple causal, constraining, and constitutive networks may better capture the integrated nature of social systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
JournalJournal for the Cognitive Science of Religion
Issue number2
StatePublished - 16 Nov 2022


  • evolution
  • modes theory
  • music
  • ritual


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