In my novel NIGHTSONG, the Neanderthals communicate by a combination of speech and song. They bond by singing together, and their "nightsongs" help keep their fears at bay. They tells stories by singing and in their songs they "show" where they've been and what they've experienced.
When I began writing NIGHTSONG about 9 years ago, I read a lot about the origin of music and singing. What was the evolutionary purpose of music? I think I absorbed a lot of theories and ideas from books such as The Singing Neanderthals by Steven Mithen, as well as books about the amazing vocal variations in people today.
I was especially fascinated by the Tuvan throat singers of Inner Asia, and their complex sonic world. In the book Where Rivers and Mountains Sing: Sound, Music, and Nomadism in Tuva and Beyond, Theodore Levin describes the songs of the Tuvan throat singers, who can sing more than one tone at a time. Their songs don't only imitate nature and animals; they also create a sonic picture for listeners. These are the kinds of songs I imagined that the Neanderthals may have sung,
I sing in a women's choir called Cantigas, based in New Jersey, and we performed a crowd-pleasing piece called Tres Cantos Nativos by Marcos Leite, in which the singers recreate the sounds of a rainforest, using only body movements, clapping, and voice. The animal sounds are made by choir members (as I recall, we had one choir member who did a mean Venezuelan rooster). In NIGHTSONG, the Neanderthals create this kind of music--using simple shakers, their voices, and their bodies only. Listen to the first few moments of this piece with your eyes closed. You'll be transported to a rainy day in the forest (performed by Lee University's Choral Union).
I am the author of NIGHTSONG: A Neanderthal mystery. I hope you may want to dip into my blog after you've read my novel (or even if you haven't) to learn a bit more about the Neanderthals and to hear some of the music described in the novel. I may go off topic sometimes...