The Evolutionary Benefits and Purpose of Music

The Question

I remember sitting in the car with my father on a long eight hour journey back from William and Mary, scrolling through playlist after playlist of music on Spotify. A question suddenly occurred to me; what is the purpose of music?  How can seemingly random pulses of air hitting our eardrums prompt such emotional responses, serve as a uniting force within society, and become an integral part of daily human life? Music has been around, in some shape or form, since the time humans started to communicate. I realized that there must be some bigger reason as to why it exists and is still so prevalent in our culture today.

I am curious to see if there is an underlying reason behind the existence of music, besides for the sake of art and exploration of the human spirit. Through my literature review I plan to conduct this summer, I aim to look into the biological benefits of music, and uncover empirical evidence as to why it still exists from an evolutionary perspective. I am looking to uncover the neurological effects of music, and to see how it has helped us develop into the complex beings we are today.

The Practical Goals

My ultimate goal in this research project is to uncover a connection between the subjective and the objective aspects of our brains, through music. I would like to explore the biological reason behind the existence of music, and to potentially uncover its role in our evolution and survival of our species. If there is evidence that music has significant neurological benefits, the implications of this research could go beyond the theoretical and into the practical. There are things such as music therapy that already exist, and exposing people to the empirical data supporting it could lead to a greater usage of music in the field of medicine.