The “Reasons Why” Project

I purchased a little pocket sketchbook with the purpose of writing down any inspiration that comes along answering this question,

“Why is Music important?”

Do you have an answer to the question?  Comment below!  Who knows what might come out of this project.  I will probably post some of the answers on Facebook, but ultimately the goal of this experiment is to examine the role of music from every and all aspects – spiritually, scientifically, socially, etc….  How does it play a part in our lives?  In our growth?  In our very being?  Why do we need music?

Why is music important to you?

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9 Comments

  1. Music is a means of communication beyond language. With music you can reach people directly on an emotional level and communicate feelings that would be really hard to put in words. As a biologist I guess the ability to make music evolved primarily for two reasons: first, to attract other human beings by showing musical skill and second, to bind a group of people together by playing and singing together and thus sharing the same feelings.

  2. I think music is important because it can affect us in so many different ways.

    I think we as human beings operate at 3 (more or less separate) levels: instinctively, emotionally, and intellectually. I believe music can affect us on all 3 levels, but that overall the primary effect is emotional.

    MUSIC AND EMOTION

    Music affects our emotions. It can help shift our moods or states of mind. It can lift our spirits above a sad situation or help us reflect on it for clarity or closure. It can help pass the time during a long trip or monotonous chore. It can lull us to sleep or get us pumped up and ready to perform. Many athletes use music to energize themselves as they train. Visual artists and writers may use music to fuel their creativity or create a certain mood that helps their workflow.

    Music can enhance the experience of watching a play or film. I’ve never seen a movie that didn’t have a soundtrack. I have only seen a few plays, but all of them had musical accompaniment. I believe soundtracks or musical accompaniment works as a secondary channel of information (visual of course being the primary) that guides, suggests or communicates how we should feel about various scenes or episodes. Music can be used to preempt us to something about to happen, build suspense, underscore an explosion or action sequence, resolve tension, frame a scene as light or humorous …and transport us between all sorts of feelings and emotions, even some feelings and emotions we don’t have words, images or other visual symbols for. So music is an important vehicle here, in this case, carrying additional information and emotional queues from the director/producer to an audience.

    These are all just a few examples of the effects of music helping us to control/shift our emotions, moods or states of mind.

    MUSIC AND THOUGHT (LIFESTYLE, SOCIETY AND CULTURE)

    Music affects us at an intellectual level too because it can influence what we think about, the decisions we make, how we act, behave, and interact. In this way, music ultimately shapes culture and society.

    In the 50’s thru the early 80’s music was a vehicle for social and political messages. There where many artists during that time who used music to raise consciousness, protest, “send a message”, introduce (perhaps new) ideas or at least raise an idea to a higher platform. Music was used to jell rallies and dispel riots (think Bob Dylan, Joan Baez), (google “James Brown calms Boston”), (USA for Africa, “We Are the World”).

    Songs like “Respect” and “Think”, sung by Aretha Franklin, dealt with social inequalities suffered by women and other marginalized groups.

    Edwin Starr’s “War”, criticized the Vietnam war specifically, but more generally, it also questioned the logic of waging war to make peace.

    John Lennon asked us to take another step closer to ending war, by imagining a world without factors that have led to war in the past.

    These messages were delivered thru music and they affected people to different extents. The messages were simply thought provoking for some. For others, they were enough to start or reframe conversations, and parts of these groups were indeed moved into action.

    I believe music continues to shape thought, behavior and culture today, but in a different way compared to previous decades. Just as music can be used to focus thought/attention or raise consciousness it can also be used to dispel, distract or divert thought- or, in other words, lower or dull our consciousness. I believe this began in the late 60’s (Google “turn on, tune in and drop out”) and accelerated in the 70’s, during the let-go-care-free-party disco era. I believe some of the extremes of 60’s counter-culture continue to echo in today’s hip-hop and popular music, and that the deleterious effects on our society and culture have gradually increased over the passed several decades. This stems into a different discussion, but I think this all speaks to the power and impact of music.

    Music resonates with our emotions. Messages, images and culture related to the music we listen to can shape our perspective, and determine our dress, speech, decision-making, behavior and other norms. I see examples all around us where art (i.e. music) is depicting life, as life is imitating art (in a kind of feedback loop). So I enjoy music as a form of entertainment, but I also see it as a conduit for culture and social structure, having broader, deeper influences.

    MUSIC AND OUR INSTINCTS

    I think we also respond to music instinctively or subconsciously.

    Animals and babies will sometimes physically respond to music by moving in sync with rhythms, smiling, laughing or simply relaxing (slower heart rate & breathing, sleeping). They’re also not particularly self aware. They aren’t thinking, conscious or deliberate about their movements. They don’t have to be taught to respond to music, they just do. So I would call that responding at a primal level or instinctively, without thought or distinct emotions necessarily.

    Since music can affect us at such a deep level, beneath the conscious mind, I believe this is why the vast majority of us end up developing a taste (or craving) for music, although we might have different preferences for different styles or genres. It’s similar with food. Vegetables, meats, grains (musical instruments), etc. around the world will have their natural, intrinsic variations and effects. Our preferences or tastes (for food or music) may differ depending on where we grew up and the kinds of flavors and experiences we’re exposed/used to, but we all are instinctively motivated to consume music/food in one form or another nevertheless. This makes music unique, because I don’t think the same could be said for other forms of art, e.g. dance, sculpture, film. Music also goes back farther in our history than other forms of entertainment (comparing say, film to the drum), so maybe it’s had more time over the millennia to leave deeper imprints on our DNA.

    So to summarize, I guess I’d say that music can affect us at many levels, from the core to the surface of our being. It influences how we think and feel. How we think and feel determines what we say and do, what we say and do determines our interactions with other people, our social structure or culture is essentially based on how we interact with each other. Our world (apart from the physical) consists of (the collective minds of) people. This is how music shapes the world and why it is significant in my view.

    • Music, especially folky music, gives us a freeness to be who we want. We can do what we want with harmonies, tunes whatever and it is what we feel inside that is what we are writing. I am only 12, but I know a lot about what music does for me and everyone else. I play the cello, the irish whistle, the piano, the guitar, and I sing. They are all very different but in a sense they all do the same thing – make people listen to who you are and what you like to do. They all sound different but like humans, put them together with the right ideas and they sound lovely. Put them together and don’t give it your all and it doesn’t work. Then you have to try, try and try again.

  3. Music is the universal language of emotions.
    Music lets you express what you can’t with words.

  4. Music can help us define the words in our heart that we don’t know how to speak. Music uplifts the hurting spirit, gives reason to hope, to laugh, to cry. Music is a language of love, and can express more than simple words alone could ever do.

  5. Music speaks for us when words will not come. It uplifts a hurting spirit, gives us reason to hope, to laugh, to cry. Music is the language of memory; a song can resurrect old moments and good (and bad) times in a heartbeat. It is a language of love, and can express more than simple words ever could.

  6. As an afterthought – Music is something we use to help us get through things emotionally, to calm down and look at something in a new perspective. There is music for every mood, for everyone and not everyone knows that. When I was deaf, I knew that a piano must do something but I didn’t know what. After my 4th or 5th operation, I suddenly discovered that everything made a noise – the rain on windows, the fridge, cats and the piano. I spent hours looking at the inside of a piano and coming to terms with what sound was and, more importantly, music was.
    Everybody always thinks how bad it would be if they were blind, but if you couldn’t hear the beautiful sound of music, or any sound then you can’t appreciate the beauty of imagination and creativity. Everyone who knows the difference has an admiration for those who don’t know but still make music to make people happy and that is why I learnt the cello.
    Music is an inspiration. It makes you think and say, actually I could do this, or it would be nice if just once I could do this. They composers are inspired by silly things but I think works both ways. Many contemporary artists are probably inspired by the once controversial stravinsky so music creates an never-ending circle of imagination and inspiration.

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