...a symbol commonly associated with Music. Other species have been depicted as having a great ability to copy what they are presented with, but have no ability to improve or modify it. If you show them a pocket watch or a 17th century sailing ship they'll be making identical pocket watches and sailing ships centuries down the line and so forth, never adjusting or modifying things.
To me this represents a common flawed understanding of the nature of creativity and innovation. Many people think of creativity as being to the effect the ability to have a sudden spark of brilliance in their mind in which everything comes together and they have idea that ultimately becomes what's created in the end, with maybe larger projects involving a mind a race to get said initial vision down. This is not how it goes. In truth a lot of creativity is basically re-combining existing knowledge and making adjustments to what has come, generating new knowledge in the process. For example...
- An individual in a tribe of hunter-gatherers who is somewhat frustrated with pulling out duds and has a surplus of time better to do decides to clear out uneatable plants growing in a patch of eatable tuber plants, collecting the tubers and replacing the plants. When she returns to the same patch the next year, she finds that the tuber plants have grown back thicker than they had been. She tells her fellows of this, who do the same leading to an increase in the amount of food. Future hunter gatherers over the span take this principle and refine it, cutting down trees near patches of food plants, seeding areas with food plants as they move on, favoring the largest most productive food plants and as time goes by begin to spend time in certain locations and taking an increased role in tending patches of food plants before eventually clearing out large fields for food crops. Said transition took thousands of years and dozens of generations with no one generation being aware of the changes beyond minor refinements in method.
- In an early semi-agricultural culture someone takes notice that clay at the bottom of a camp fire becomes hard. Said individual (or someone else that said individual shares the information with) then decides to put a small lump of clay into a campfire one day and finds a hard lump. Taking this into consideration said individual (or another that has received said information, which applies ) shapes the clay into a rough convex shape and makes a simple bowl similar to coconut shells. A forth cycle involves said individual making a basic kiln out of dirt and rocks to make better use of the fuel based on the knowledge that walls hold in heat. The same basic set up with some tweeks is also found to be useful for cooking and melting down metals from ores.
- in a simple civilization which has comparatively recently learned that if you take copper and tin and mix them together you get bronze, which can be used to make a variety of tools such as spearheads and daggers used in combat. Some bronzesmiths decide to extend spearheads (while gradually cutting down on the shaft) and dagger blades over time, eventually resulting in 60cm long swords.
- Bronze is a useful thing for making swords, sickles, helmets, armor and whatnot, but it is also expensive as you need copper and tin, generally needing to import one or the other. Despite this iron is known both from a few examples of meteoric iron (a prestige item), which is is also made as a waste product from smelting copper and other such metals. Furnace designs are refined and improved with new systems such as bellows to more efficiently smelt copper, gold and so forth leading to more incidental iron processing as lumps of semi-molten iron form at the bottom. Bronzeworkers begin working these lumps of iron and modify their furnaces to re-heat lumps and begin forging them. Since iron ore is more common than bronze, iron overtakes bronze in many fields.