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Why Humans Need Music

Music helps us to communicate, to learn, to bond, to interact, to express ourselves, to manage our emotions, to be well, to be who we are.

Music is powerful. We need music.

Profile pic orchestra.jfif

Photo by Robin Clewley

The Role of Music in Our Lives

All people in the world make music; music is universal. This is because humans need music. Music helps us as a species, as a culture, as a community, and as individuals. The last 40 years have seen an explosion of incredible research across the world which shows us just how vital music is to our daily lives and to who we are. We sing together, we dance together, we soothe babies with lullabies and teach our children using rhymes, and we weave music into our lives, our celebrations, our most important moments, and our grievances. The music that we enjoy in our youth often plays a special role in our entire lives. Music triggers powerful memories and evokes intense emotions. Many of us turn to music to help us to manage our mood, whether it be one of joy or despair. Music can aid us in managing our mental health and can help to relieve loneliness, for example by giving us a sense of being with others, even when we listen alone. A shared music experience helps us to bond with one another, and helps children to learn empathy. Music therapy can transform lives and facilitate communication, interaction and expression. Research is now beginning to reveal the astounding clinical applications of music, for example how music may feature in the lives of people with Parkinson's and people living with dementia.

We have long known how important music is to the human species - Darwin wrote about this, musical instruments were made by our earliest ancestors, and there is convincing evidence that the earliest humans may have developed musical skills (chanting, beating out rhythms) before they developed language. The COVID-19 pandemic made even clearer to us how much we need music; we sang on balconies, streamed live performances into our homes, and used songs and rhymes to remember how long we should wash our hands for. Music is woven into the fabric of our daily lives, via our smart speakers, our mobile phone ring tones, the music we hear in shops and supermarkets, and our experiences of adverts, TV programmes, films and evenings in bars and pubs. We craved, and missed, live music performance during the COVID-19 pandemic because the live music experience is special, and currently not replicable in a streamed performance; live music is immersive, absorbing, and gives us a sense of occasion, which we enjoy sharing with others. There is a reason why the music industry contributes so significantly to the economy, and why our love of reality TV centres so much around musical talent (The Voice, X Factor, The Masked Singer); humans need music.

This website is intended to bring together the vast (and rapidly growing) amount of research evidence we now have about why humans need music. Music is a vital part of who we are as humans, as communities, and as a collective species.

Click here to learn more about #WhyHumansNeedMusic.

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