Why do humans like music? Does music serve an evolutionary purpose?

Humans have loved songs and music for centuries. Many people find peace in the subtle rhythm of tunes, while others symbolize music to be a source of fun and enjoyment. Side from those, music lovers also find a fulfilling career with music. A difference is seen between musical choices among different individuals. But there is only a slight chance of someone not liking music at all. 

We all have that one particular song that brings us joy and calms our nerves. But how does a sound produce this sense of happiness? Why we humans can never get enough of music and melodies. What is the reason behind this unnamed passion for music? Let’s discuss all this!

One of the biggest reasons why we find music comforting is that it brings back old memories. It is just like the perfume effect. When you wear a specific scent for a special occasion, whenever you will smell it again, you will relive the memory of wearing it for the first time. This is why people prefer wearing unique fragrances for special events. 

The same phenomenon is applied to music. Melody and rhythm can trigger feelings from sadness to serenity and joy to awe; they can bring memories from childhood vividly back to life. Thus, when you hear a song, you remember the time you heard it before. This way, a certain emotional attachment is created with music.

From an evolutionary point of view, music didn’t play any role in the lifestyle. It didn’t affect life like food or shelter. Meaning, it did nothing to help our distant ancestors survive and reproduce. Yet music and its effects are in powerful evidence across virtually all cultures, so it must satisfy some sort of universal need. 

Let’s unfold the mystery behind this suspicious sense of calmness that music produces. When we listen to a song, its music triggers activity in the nucleus accumbens, the same brain structure that releases the “pleasure chemical” dopamine during sex and eating.

Animals get that same thrill from food and sex, but not music, despite the occasional dancing cockatoo. Therefore, you can say that listening to music will give you an equal amount of joy that you get while eating your favorite meal. So next time you feel like ditching your diet plan, just listen to your favorite song, and you will be happy in no time.

Now that we have established some understanding of how music works on our brain, let’s see if there is any history attached to this action. Many people believe that there’s a layer of evolution to this process. Evidently, we require more emotional stimulus than other mammals to breed. Also, unlike other animals, we rely on social cohesion to raise our children.

In a way, we can say that in the future, this feeling can grow even more and become a source of affection. It might be possible that something with such a strong emotional and social impact might serve an evolutionary purpose of bonding between mates, and more broadly, society.