The reality of music


Why music? It may seem a strange question but in looking at the complex realities of the world around us, I have often wondered about the real purpose of the arts.  What is the reason for the human liking for drama, music, painting and sculpture etc? Are they just things that have developed over the years of ways to enjoy ourselves? Or is there a more complex evolutionary or big picture reason for their existence? How do they affect our reality? For me, the most interesting of these art forms with which to to pose the question is music.


What is music?

Recently I watched Dara O’Brian’s Science club on the TV, which gave some useful insights into the matter.

  • On a most basic level music can just be seen as organised sound. But it is sound usually set to a  particular beat or rhythm.
  • Our human bodies are programmed to understand rhythm. If we hear two or three organised notes we can predict what rhythm the next one will be produced at (beat induction).  It is thought that man is the only animal that has that facility.
  • These organised sounds can be shown to affect parts of the deep brain and trigger endorphins which make you feel good.
  • Music can be shown to  directly affect our emotions. On one level emotions are themselves just vibrating bio- chemical energy in our brains.
  •  Different levels combinations and rhythms affect us all differently. As our sense organs and brains are all slightly different, the affect on us will be individual. Everyone hears the same music slightly differently.
  • Sounds are, at base, just vibration at certain frequencies. It is created sound waves.
  • The brain, via the eardrum, then interprets the vibrations into what we actually hear.
  • Musical instruments are used to produce  these vibrations, as of course is the human voice.

Why music?

There were several suggestions made as to why music has evolved with man. Even cave men had primitive flutes made from mammoth bones apparently.

  • Music can be seen to encourage bonding socially. Very important for primitive societies which need to co-operate to survive.
  • Some people believe that music, especially  chanting or sacred music, enables them to reach a higher spiritual level.
  • It can help the body organise itself. Parkinson’s patients in America who had trouble co-ordinating movement, were shown to be able to manage much better if they moved to a particular beat. Some music by passed the damaged part of the brain and went straight to  motor function. This process was definite if not wholly understood.
  • The calming, inspiring or endorphin releasing function of music can release emotions which can be seen as an evolutionary advantage, in both primitive and more complex societies.
  • Last, but not least, the creation of and the  listening to music gives enormous pleasure to almost every one. It enriches our lives.

The reality of music

When looking at the role of music in our reality, there are the two  ultimate questions.

Is music just a bi- product of evolution for all the reasons above?

Or is music a gift from a designer of some sort? Not only for pleasure, but to  enable man to raise the level of vibration and reach higher planes of consciousness.

What do you think?



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