Why do do we spend hours listening to our favorite bands? Why do we crank up the volume till we can feel the base in our heart beats? Why do we spend money on iPod’s in the hopes that we can listen to thousands of songs? Why do we sit down and play an instrument until our fingers callous over? Why do our ears crave that substance we call music? Well, a new study may have the answer.
According to Chris Loersch and Nathan Arbuckle, as Homo sapiens evolved into the hairless bi-pedal beings we are today, we also evolved to love music. Their study proposes that music evolved as a way for people to connect to others and “a tool to pass information about the group’s shared mental state to a number of individuals at once”. No shit Sherlock. Okay that may be a little unfair, but I think most of us already knew the purpose of music. Ask most musicians and they will tell you that they use their music as a way to communicate their experiences to others.
Take a minute to meditate on the melodies in your life: Do you know a song that, no matter how dreadful your day is, always lifts your spirit? Have you ever seen the whole crowd at a concert begin to sway in perfect time, not a single person off-beat? Or experienced a blues musician strum the guitar and sing about loss and heartache, only to feel their lament bubble up in your own soul? Have you ever gone dancing and seen all the people feel the beat and tempo of the music with their bodies? Music does and always has elicited emotional and communal action. Hundreds of teen girls swooned and yelled till they passed out when they heard the Beatles, college football fans will scream their fight songs as if their lives depend on it, churches vibrate with the sound of hymnals, and whole countries swell with patriotism as their anthem rings out at the Olympics. So, why do we love music so much? Maybe Jimi had it right when he said, “Music is my religion”. If human beings need music and evolved to loved it, then perhaps music is the religion that all of humanity can get behind.