The Universal Language of Music
The Power of Music in Cultures Around the World
As the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said “music is the universal language of mankind.” Scientists are now confirming that music is indeed a global cultural phenomenon.
Researchers have discovered that musical behaviors such as infant care, healing, dance and love songs tend to have similar features in different cultures around the world.
1. Music is a way of communication
Music is a way for individuals to express themselves and communicate feelings that they may not be able to describe with words. It can also bring people together, whether it be at a concert or a jam session in the park.
Music can be used in religious ceremonies, celebrations, or to pass down traditions and history. It is often used to accompany epic poems and stories, as well as to help with teaching and learning languages. It can also be a form of entertainment, with concerts and festivals being popular amongst many cultures.
Research has shown that musical behaviors are universal, yet highly diverse in their structures and roles. Some researchers have proposed several evolutionary explanations for these differences, such as music’s pleasure-producing potential, its ability to temper anxiety about mortality, or its role in facilitating social glue and caretaker mobility. Others have argued that music is a complex social construct, and that it cannot be reduced to a single function.
2. Music is a form of celebration
Music is often seen as a way to celebrate. It can be used to mark important events like births, weddings and funerals. It can also be used to help people relax and enjoy themselves. Many people exercise to music, using songs or rhythms to enhance their workout.
In some cultures there is no distinction between performance and listening, with all music being considered music. Other cultures have different ideas about what constitutes’real’ music, from the concept of performing material conceived beforehand to the idea of free improvisation. Jazz is a good example of this, where artists such as Miles Davis were improvising even though their music was clearly arranged and written.
Music is an incredibly diverse art form, and it is found in every culture around the world. This diversity points to universal neurological and cognitive foundations, while demonstrating the powerful ways in which organized sound can communicate, connect and inspire human beings. Music is woven into the fabric of all societies, serving social, ceremonial, emotional and creative needs since prehistoric times.
3. Music is a way of healing
Music has therapeutic effects both psychologically and physiologically. It has been shown to reduce stress and blood pressure, increase the production of endorphins, and boost mood and immune function. It can also distract people from pain and discomfort.
Whether played live or on a device, music can help bring communities together through shared experience. It can communicate cultural knowledge and history, facilitate emotional expression, and coordinate activities such as marching or dancing. Music can even heal at a physical level, with researchers finding that rhythmic stimuli can allay symptoms of certain conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
For some cultures, the act of making music is a sacred process that requires great skill and dedication. Many musicians have to work hard to sustain their careers, often sacrificing their health and family life. Despite these challenges, the importance of music as a way of healing cannot be overstated. It is one of the oldest forms of medicine that has been used for thousands of years to help heal the body and soul.
4. Music brings people together
Music is one of the most powerful ways to bring people together. It can help people overcome language barriers, connect people from different backgrounds and cultures, and unite them through a shared love of a song or genre.
The exact origins of music are up for debate, but we know that it was one of the first forms of human social bonding. It’s also thought to be a precursor to verbal communication.
Throughout history, as cultures have come into contact with each other, their musical styles have often merged into new forms. This is known as world music and has included everything from Classical to salsa.
Music can also be used to bring communities together through events like music festivals. These events can bring together people of all ages and backgrounds to celebrate their common love for music. They can also serve as a way to bridge the gap between diverse races and nations, which may ultimately lead to global peace.