We can all agree that music has a massive impact on our lives – when we’re happy or upset, going out or going to work, it’s almost inescapable. It has the power to alter our mood and change the whole tone of a room; it affects us wherever we go, but why is it that this sound is just so important to us?
It’s that moment when your favourite song comes on when you’re out with friends, or that piece of music that is so enjoyable you remember exactly where you were the first time you heard it. We don’t all love every kind of music, but it’s that specific taste that just comforts or elates us, so much so that many of us would even go as far as saying we couldn’t live without it.
The reason is said to be because humans have evolved to appreciate these kind of noises. The sound of other humans – such as in song – matter the most to us because this is what we understand and can communicate with, it’s where we get all our information from. Although the scales found in music have no direct relationship to the pitches of human speech, genres such as rock possess similarities to human frequency and speech intervals, which is why it is so popular.
Unlike other pleasures in life, music has no intrinsic value, but with so many different genres it can reach out and move so many different people in all kinds of ways. Many say it causes intense emotion and overwhelming joy within them, influencing mood and actions, thoughts and feelings – which is why the power of song should never be underestimated.
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Gill KZ, Purves D (2009) A Biological Rationale for Musical Scales. PLoS ONE 4(12): e8144. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008144