Whether you enjoy rock music, or pop, or if classical or jazz takes your fancy, we all love music. But what if we had never invented music? No, rhythms, no melodies. Nothing.
Why did we invent music? What are the benefits of listening to music? And would we still dance?
The first known musical instruments are flutes dating back 43,000 years, made from swan and mammoth bones. They were discovered in Germany. And who knows how much earlier we started using our voices to make sweet sounds. Fast forward to today, and music has become a part of our everyday lives. Can you even imagine a world where music had never existed?
Music is important to us, and not just because it sounds good and makes us feel upbeat emotions. It’s been suggested that music was a sort of evolutionary step in our development as a species.
Thousands of years ago, people probably weren’t singing like Lady Gaga, but the sounds they made may have helped with communication before the invention of language. Even now, music crosses borders and languages. It truly is a global form of communication.
Music is so popular that in 2019, the music industry earned $21.5 billion. The start of monogamy has been linked to music, and it may even have been the social glue that brought early, pre-human societies together.
And that could have been vital to our survival. So we know why music came about, but how beneficial is it? Well, music does some great things for us. And we spend a lot of time listening to it. On average, Americans spend more than 4.5 hours each day listening to music.
When you listen to your favorite song, does it make you feel romantic, happy, or motivated? Music’s effects don’t stop there. It can affect parts of our brains, and studies have shown some hidden benefits.
Take the frontal lobe, which is used for decision-making, thinking, and planning. When we listen to music, it can enhance these functions. And music has some really helpful effects on the hippocampus, which regulates our emotions and retrieves memories. It’s also the first part of the brain which is affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
If a person has Alzheimer’s, listening to music can increase neurogenesis, the production of new neurons. This helps us retrieve memories and make new ones. Music can even affect us physically. Listening to classical music can decrease blood pressure and heart rate. With all these effects, and more, it’s like music is a drug for our brains. Considering how beneficial music is for us, what if we had never had any music? Could we have become a different species altogether?
Well, if we never had music, it’s a good bet that our societies would be different. For one thing, our brains may not have developed as highly as they are now. And our bodies might not have evolved to today’s standards. If you like exercising or going to the gym, you’ll know what I mean.
I bet you listen to your favorite gym playlist, which gets you motivated and helps you push that little bit harder when you work out. So without music, we’d probably be a lot lazier.
But it gets me wondering. Would we still dance if there were no music? Dancing and music seem to go hand in hand. It would look weird if there were no music and people were dancing, wouldn’t it? Those awkward parties would be even more awkward if someone couldn’t turn on music, so people could enjoy themselves and dance.
Music brings us together and connects us. From the dawn of humanity until now, it’s played an important role in our lives. Music motivates us. It helps us think better, and it can even help us cope with diseases. If you think about it, music may be one of the most important things that makes humans what we are.
- “Did early humans, or even animals, invent music?”. Barras, Colin. 2021. bbc.com.
- “Music And The Brain: What Happens When You’re Listening To Music”. 2021. Pegasus Magazine.
- “Recorded Music Industry – Global Revenue 2019 | Statista”. 2021. Statista.
- “We Listen to Music For More Than 4 1/2 Hours A Day, Nielsen Says”. marketingcharts.com.
- “Music As A Therapy To Alleviate Anxiety During Inpatient Rehabilitation For Stroke”. Le Danseur, Maureen, April D. Crow, Sonja E. Stutzman, Marcos D. Villarreal, and DaiWai M. Olson. 2017. Rehabilitation Nursing Publish Ahead of Print.
- “The Effect Of Music On The Human Stress Response”. Thoma, Myriam V., Roberto La Marca, Rebecca Brönnimann, Linda Finkel, Ulrike Ehlert, and Urs M. Nater. 2013. Plos ONE 8 (8): e70156. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070156.