Why Do We Like Music?

September 9, 2010 | In: Music facts

You can’t touch it, you can’t eat it, and you can’t see it. So, why do people enjoy music so much? So much in fact that they spend billions of dollars each year buying recordings and equipment to play it back.

Do you remember the first time you heard music? Probably not. In fact it’s very likely that you first heard music before you were born — the music produced by your mother’s body.

When you were a baby inside your mother, there was very little to see, feel, taste, or smell. Your one active sense was hearing. Inside the womb, a baby hears its mother’s heartbeat and breathing. Babies can even hear sounds outside the mother, such as conversations between Mom and Dad.

When your mother was resting, her heart would thump slowly and regularly in a restful way. But if she got excited, her heart and breathing would speed up and her body would produce adrenaline — the hormone that temporarily provides extra energy and strength. So you would hear and feel your mother’s faster heartbeat and breathing and would also be affected by her adrenaline.

Perhaps this is why music is called the international language, a language that all people understand.

Slow music promotes rest, meditation and a sense of well being. It is used in elevators to keep people calm in close quarters. Quicker rhythms make us move faster, which is why light, rapidly-paced music is used in stores — to get us to actively look at the products and buy more. Very fast and loud music arouses, agitates, and energizes us. Think how a military march, loud rock music, or the climax of the 1812 Overture can get our own hearts beating faster.

Doctors recommend laying a crying baby on its mother’s chest. Why? So the baby can hear the familiar, restful and secure sounds that are such music to its ears.

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