Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Why do we love music?

This tunes fits perfectly with the article -

Music, whether it's a soothing classical piece, an up-tempo beat with synth, or heavy metal; we all love it in one way or another. But why?

Music has been around since the beginning of our existence, even when we were not so technically intelligent, we still sang, hummed, and tapped rhythms.

Pleasing to one of our five senses, music has evolved into such a vast art, to satisfy each individuals taste. But underlying beneath the pleasure of music, perhaps there is a scientific side towards it too.

Why do we like it?

  • It gives us a sense of time, whether the music is in 2/4, 4/4, or 12/16, it lets us count in moments when notes happen, which would make sense as it would give us serious advantages during our less developed times such as when to make the kill, how to stay safe etc.
  • Important mammalian emotions which include anger, fear, excitation would be vital to survive. And perhaps the time signature of pieces reflect this. A more rigorous tempo would insinuate excitation or anger, maybe like when we were hunting in prehistoric times. A slow piece often makes the listener feel relaxed and safe which would in turn have social benefits- a huge need in prehistoric times was clans, this allowed them to survive and spread.
  • Recently discovered, listening to music actually stimulates the whole brain! Literally your brain lights up like a firework display (through scans of course) which may help certain processes. (Shown above)
Why do we only like certain music?

The truth is, we don't. Our brain wants it wants at the time, we remember that, and we edge towards a preference over time. Why do you think at parties we prefer upbeat music? Because we adapt to our enviroment and get moving and socializing. 
When we are raised in different enviroments, we evolve different tastes. For example, being brought up in a busy place would suggest more energetic music. And in more rural areas, simpler music, for example folk music is usually not very relied on computers and often consists of a single acoustic guitar, a beat and vocals.

Why are the charts so poor?

It's often said that talent is lacking in the charts, whether this be a talentless artist who magically made it into the charts, people have preferences. And these preferences are often influenced by friends. 

Take an example; Justin Bieber - Universally hated and adored by few, he is successful. This is because there is a smaller group of people who genuinely like the artist and spread news about him which leads on to their friends persuaded to like the music out of 'peer pressure'.

Relating back to the scientific side of this subject, perhaps his music is considered dreadful by many because it lacks relations to prehistoric times, it lacks a firm beat, it lacks genuineness (his voice is autotuned like crazy) and most importantly, it lacks emotion.

Will music change?

Probably not, more sub-genre's may emerge which certain people will enjoy, but it will only go so far.. We still have our basic instincts such as rhythm and emotion, and music reflects this wonderfully.

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