Music has the ability to affect our mental states and alter our moods. Music can give us the needed energy and motivation to get through challenging events in our day or lives. After all, it has the ability to soothe the savage beast.
Do you consider music to be a big part of your life? If so, when did it first enter your life and how? Do you remember the first song you ever heard? Who was it or what kind of music was it? What prompted your love of music or how did it become so ingrained in your life?
Music in Ancient History
Archaeologists were excavating a cave in southern Germany in 2009 and uncovered an interesting artifact. What they found was a flute carved from a vulture’s wing bone, this find has become the oldest known musical instrument ever found. Dating back 40,000 years, it shows that music has been an integral part of the human condition.
The earliest known music was found carved in a clear tablet dating between 1450 and 1250 BCE. It’s as discovered in modern day Syria in the ancient ruins of the city Ugarit. The tune is a hymn to Nikki’s – the wife of a moon-god. This tablet goes into great detail about the intervals between the notes, the pitch to be used for the melody, and the stipulation for its performance. The tablet goes further to say that i is sung by a single voice that is to be accompanied by a lyre. That is perhaps more in-depth than most music created today.
It is almost impossible to be able to find out when people began to listen to music but we have learned, somewhat, as to why we listen to music. Popular thoughts state that human may have developed a dependency on music due to us being descended from an arboreal species (tree dwellers) that would have used vocalizations to communicate with other species members. An early discovery dates back to around the year 2300 BCE where an Akkadian Priestess, Enhuduanna, composed a hymn to the moon god. None of the music exists but the lyrics were still there.
I dont seem to have a memory of my childhood that doesn’t involve music. The earliest memories of me as a young kid are filled with trips in my father’s old Ford Bronco and the radio always playing something. Going shopping or to doctor’s appointments resulted in my mother singing along to the radio or some forgotten tune from her childhood.
As a kid we had a Mr Microphone. If you aren’t familiar, it was a wireless microphone that broadcasted a radio signal you could tune a radio to broadcast – typically for parties. I always thought anyone could hear us so when I was singing into it, I was sure that people driving past or our neighbors could hear me. We also had a small Fisher Price record player and a spindle full of 45 rpm records. We played them as much as we could, between it and our radio, it seemed we always had music on.
Some of my strongest memories of music in my childhood are still of me dressing up in my mothers gown and shoes, putting small stuffed animals into a bra and pretending I was Donna Summer or some other female singer of the time. I would belt out the song into a hair brush thinking I was performing for a sold out concert. I also distinctly remember how upset my father would get seeing me dressed that way.
As I grew older, music became my escape from the world I felt that I didn’t belong to. When I struggled to fit in, there always seemed to be a song that spoke to me. If i was angry or frustrated, I could always find a rock or metal song that helped me through the rough times. But, my first real love of music came, roughly, around 1979 to November 30th, 1982. That seems like a long stretch to cover but explaining it may help.
The first album and artist I fell in love with was Thriller by Michael Jackson. My love of Michael Jackson started with two songs, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough and Rock With You. There was just something about Michael’s music that spoke to me. Yes I know, an entire generation has said something similar. There were three of us in my grade that loved Michael, Lisa Young, Kim Caldwell, and myself. Just the mention of him or his songs would send us into a swirling state of euphoria. My love of him carried through till middle school. I had a replica zipper jacket and sequin glove that I wore and I am pretty sure I wore the cassette I had, of that album, completely out.
The jacket and glove never made it past sixth grade as a bully stole them both from me. It was at this point that what I showed a love for in music changed. I started hiding some music I loved while trying to fit in with others and what they listened to.
To this day, it is rare that you will not find me listening to music for large amounts of time. My boyfriend and I sit around and discuss music and how it affects us, a lot.
How music affects us
There are few things that seem to have an affect on people, animals, and plants quite like music doesn’t. It has the power to alter one’s mood, change perceptions, and inspire people to make change.
Music’s effect on society
“Music is an essential aspect of all human civilizations and has the power to emotionally, morally, and culturally affect society…” – Savethemusic.org
Music has given people from different walks of life a way to understand and see into their culture. It also becomes a way to deal with adversity and to bond with others. Music gives society a unique ability to express themselves, deal with their emotions, relax, and help to improve their well being. Music is the “friend” people often turn to when they feel that others do not understand them. It becomes the solace to heal and reflect.
Music’s effect on people
There is no doubt in how music has an ability to alter our mental states and raise our mood. It can be there to provide the motivation and energy we need to get through whatever we are going through or doing . After all “music tames the savage beast.”
Music is the one medium that unites all people, its affect on us is perceptible. Other ways that music can influence people and society:
- helps bridge the communication divide
- It can provide that needed spark of inspiration
- It’s ability to make us want to move or dance gives us a vector for coping with the stressors of our life
- It can be the needed platform for the smaller segments of society to speak out
- Music, at its core, is an avenue for idea-sharing and education
Each of us feels a connection to some kind of music. The more the artist puts their heart and soul into it, the more we feel connected with them. It gives us a means to relate with adversity and the challenges of day to day life.
There is no denying the power music has on us. A tune can come on the radio and we find ourselves tapping our foot or humming along with it. Music is therapy, it has the ability to make us remember long forgotten memories. We have even seen how music can improve the condition of people suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Music has been a core part of spiritual and religious ceremonies for as long as man has kept records. We use rhymes to help us learn things as children. In fact, I have a vivid memory of a pamphlet my mother received from my kindergarten teacher on how to teach your children to learn their phone number and address. I am sure each of us remember how we learned to sing the alphabet. I would be that right now you are singing in your head because of me mentioning it.
Music and you
We have seen how music has such an influential hold on our lives. Those feelings can be so strong that we often draw lines on the kinds of music we listen to because of how it makes us feel. I am curious how music has impacted your life or what types of music you are most drawn to. Comment below and let me know some of your favorite artists, songs, and why/how they have affected you.