Join our weekly newsletter.
Articles, news, and ideas.

Languages, people and their cultures.

In need of a translation or interpreting service? Get a 5% lifetime discount now!

A Question for the Ages: Why Was Music Invented?

A Gramophone and a Dog
A Question for the Ages: Why Was Music Invented?
on September, 05 2013

Music is everywhere these days. Technology has made it possible for us to bring the type of music that we love to listen to practically everywhere we go. When we listen to music we find our moods and behaviors altered at once. Music affects not just individual persons but groups as well and its effect is instantaneous. Anyone who has been to a concert in a huge venue can attest to the power of music in uplifting people’s spirits and fostering cooperative and celebratory behaviors. Music has one more useful attribute. It makes it quite easy to relate to an emotion. Music has the power to magnify human feelings immediately, a characteristic that it shares with other art forms.

Across genres

Music’s amazing ability to communicate emotions is demonstrated by some of the most popular musicians that graced the planet. Emotions come across their musical creations no matter what musical genre they represent. Whether it’s Jimmy Hendrix, Beethoven, Ravi Shankar, Stevie Wonder, or Maroon 5, music’s potent effect on our emotions is clearly evident.


It hardly matters what instruments produce the music because the general effect is the same. Some people prefer the sound of the guitar, while others love the piano. There are people who love the orchestra while others prefer vocal ensembles. It does not matter whether it is a single lingering violin note, or the unceasing thump of a bass drum. Music impacts on our current emotional state and alters it in a powerful way.

Theories on the origin of music

It is generally accepted that music emerged along with other art forms, but there is also a linguistic theory which suggests that music has a strong relationship with the intonation of speech. Another popular theory of the origin of music is that it emerged from rhythm, which became much more helpful to those participating in ritual dances. A related theory on the origin of music concerns the need to synchronize movements amongst a group of people. Stone Age musical instruments made from mammoth bones produced sound and are assumed to have helped our ancestors move together in synchrony. But there are people who believe that the need for synchrony was related to work and not ceremony. Music emerged to help people coordinate their movements while they engaged in productive activities.

Charles Darwin, the proponent of the theory of evolution by the process of natural selection has a rather interesting view on the origin of music. He related music as a form of sexual attraction. A more recent theory suggests that music originated primarily to lift people’s spirits and unite them such that they become a close-knit society. This theory looks at music as a form of social glue. The proponents cited examples such as sports events themes, ritual drumming music, and military music to illustrate their point.

All these theories have basis and there’s probably no need to determine which particular theory really explains the origin of music. As a matter of fact, another intriguing question has been posed. Did humans really invent music? Is it a cultural invention of a biological adaptation? But let’s solve that intriguing puzzle another time.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

Join our weekly newsletter for articles, news and ideas

In need of a translation or interpreting service? Get a 5% lifetime discount now!