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Why do we Listen to Music?

Updated on November 15, 2010

Why Music?

We can't touch it. We can't see it. We don't know where it comes from, but in another sense it touches us, we see it's positive effects and surely it can only come from the heart?

Music means so much to so many people. For some it is a way to escape from reality and raise ones expectations of life. For musicians it's simply ingrained in them. They pick up their guitar and compose something meaningful even if it only has meaning to them. But why do we listen to music? Is it simply a part of our make-up or is it just another one of man's many innovations?

It would seem that it is both of these things and so much more.

The earliest musical instruments date back to around 30,000 years ago when man was still a hunter-gatherer and the main dish of the day was the woolly mammoth. But we didn't just eat these hairy creatures. In fact every part of the mammoth was put to good use for making clothes, shelters and jewellery. We even used their large skulls as primitive drums. It is unclear if music was used for enjoyment or religious purposes, but considering that they thought the same way we do it wouldn't be hard to imagine that it was for both.

Today we can enjoy a wide variety of musical styles and genres and with the rapid growth of the digital age we are able to hear and create music in ways that would have baffled our fur wearing relatives.

But why do we enjoy music? It has been said that we humans enjoy only a limited range of musical scales which use tones that are more recognisable to us as opposed to other animals. Indeed, this would seem to ring true when the most popular songs ever written are usually always the most simple in their use of chord progressions and scales. We just don't like things getting too complicated. But to break musical appreciation down to simple physiological factors might terrify the average musician who sees the creation of it in a much more spiritual context. Is to measure music in this way also to strip it of its mysterious lour?

Whatever our reason for the love of music it would seem that it is as much a part of the human condition as our dependence on oxygen and, just as we thrive on the air we breath, always will we thrive on the music we hear.


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    • Mmiller_89 profile image

      Michael Miller 7 years ago from Las Vegas

      Music is really a mystery in many ways. It can't be seen, smelled, or touched for that matter, but it's there. It effects us on a level that's deeper than skin and blood.

      Popular music has unfortunatly been subject to continually reusing the same chord progressions and scales, because they just sound good. At least there are many other genres out there! Nice hub.