Why do we like music anyway?


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When you think about it the whole concept is kinda weird. I mean, if we were visited by a race of aliens that didn't have music and they asked us why we made it could you explain why? I couldn't.


I don't have the background to get into nitty gritty science, but I can give a basic, laymans explanation.

First, we're sensory creatures who have evolved to experience pleasurable and painful sensory input. Just like we've evolved to desire certain tastes in food, having a sense of hearing and those pleasure/pain processing capability, we can enjoy certain sounds.

Second, we've evolved to recognize patterns. Our brains are large enough to learn large amounts of information after birth (compared to the majority of other Earth-based animals). Our brain doesn't know the difference between wind rustling through the trees, and a tiger moving through the brush, but with experience, we can learn the difference (though it isn't perfect, and is prone to errors). This leads into the first point, there's specific qualities in music that tickle our pattern recognition. As we are exposed to music, we learn what a certain style sounds like. Then within that style of music, we will gravitate towards songs that in one moment feel very familiar, but also surprise our ability to recognize patterns.

A contemporary example that's easy to point out is EDM (electronic dance music). EDM follows some fairly predictable patterns, and even the disruption of that pattern is predictable (dropping the bass), but it is the skill with which the composer places that disruption that makes specific songs more enjoyable (for those that are familiar and enjoy EDM) than other songs.

I could be wrong, and there's certainly more too it than that. Once you like a song, you're likely to continue liking that song, even though you are completely familiar with it. It also goes to explain why we like live performances with variations in them, because it takes the familiar song we love, and changes something about it.

Another big factor is that we like stories. Our brains are built to engage with our memories, and we can essentially explore someone else's memory through a story. All the reasons we like stories apply to many songs as well.

At least, that's my hypothesis.


I remember seeing a video of Leonard Bernstein teaching children about music appreciation. In it, he asked why we like music - why we should like the sounds we call music more than other sounds - and answered "I don't know." Really, those were his words.

If someone who devotes his life to music and is that great at it answers "I don't know", I don't think the answer could be very clear.

Personally, I view music as an addictive drug. Once we get hooked on it, no matter how we justify it, we're just feeding the addiction.

Oh, I COULD justify it. I could tell a long story about how music improved my health, and the scientific evidence I have to prove it. But even that would only be an excuse. Why do we like it? We just do.

Perhaps Yqatuba, reading this post, might say "But that doesn't deal with the question of why we like the sounds we call 'music' more than other sounds." Well, hey, different people have different opinions about what music is good, or even what music IS. Some people love music which other people call just noise. Some people regard the wind rustling through the trees as music. Somehow, we just like some sounds and other people like others, just like some people like the tastes of some foods and others like the tastes of others. That's just the way it is, and any explanation would sound to me like just an excuse.


Music soothes me, excites me, takes me to other places, and let's me look inward. It's my greatest escape since I find it very hard to read any more.


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Yqatuba wrote:
When you think about it the whole concept is kinda weird. I mean, if we were visited by a race of aliens that didn't have music and they asked us why we made it could you explain why? I couldn't.

I think it's got something to do with the ears.


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Why do I like music? Because it's the better alternative to throttling people in the street...


Depends on the people.


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It tickles the part of my brain that makes my toes tap.


Music is math. Math explains a great many things about how the universe is. We are part of the universe. Therefore we like the echo of truth that music gives to us.


Quark Blast wrote:
Music is math. Math explains a great many things about how the universe is. We are part of the universe. Therefore we like the echo of truth that music gives to us.

By that logic shouldn't some people (anyone?) Like math class?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Some people do.


I saw a video of Leonard Bernstein showing youngsters music appreciation. In it, he inquired as to why we like music - why we should like the sounds we call music more than different sounds - and replied: "I don't have the foggiest idea." Really, those were his words. In the event that somebody who commits his life to music and is that awesome at it answers "I don't have the foggiest idea", I don't figure the appropriate response could be clear. Actually, I see music as an addictive medication. When we get snared on it, regardless of how we legitimize it, we're simply Brawling go encouraging the fixation. Goodness, I COULD legitimize it. I could recount a long tale about how music enhanced my wellbeing, and the logical proof I need to demonstrate it. In any case, even that would just be a reason. For what reason do we like it? We simply do. Maybe Yqatuba, perusing this post, may state "Yet that doesn't manage the subject of why we like the sounds we call 'music' more than different sounds." Well, hello, distinctive individuals have diverse suppositions about what music is great, or even what music IS. A few people love music which other individuals call simply commotion. A few people respect the breeze stirring through the trees as music. Some way or another, we simply like a few sounds and other individuals like others, much the same as a few people like the tastes of a few nourishments and others like the tastes of others. That is only the manner in which it is, and any clarification would sound to me like only a reason.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Some of my favorite YouTube video series is where they take a class of young kids and play them music from the 80s-90s and show them rotary phones, typewriters, and old computers.

It's f~&$ing hilarious!


We like music because they call it music. If we didn't like it, they'd call it something else.


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Layla?


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Martha!?!


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Noooorrrrrmmmmm...


captain yesterday wrote:

Some of my favorite manga series is where they take a class of young kids and play them music from the 80s-90s and show them rotary phones, typewriters, and old computers.

It's f&!&ing hilarious!

Music soothes me, excites me, takes me to other places, and let's me look inward. It's my greatest escape since I find it very hard to read any more.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
myanime002 wrote:
I saw a video of Leonard Bernstein showing youngsters music appreciation. In it, he inquired as to why we like music - why we should like the sounds we call music more than different sounds - and replied: "I don't have the foggiest idea." Really, those were his words. In the event that somebody who commits his life to music and is that awesome at it answers "I don't have the foggiest idea", I don't figure the appropriate response could be clear. Actually, I see music as an addictive medication. When we get snared on it, regardless of how we legitimize it, we're simply Parallel Paradise encouraging the fixation. Goodness, I COULD legitimize it. I could recount a long tale about how music enhanced my wellbeing, and the logical proof I need to demonstrate it. In any case, even that would just be a reason. For what reason do we like it? We simply do. Maybe Yqatuba, perusing this post, may state "Yet that doesn't manage the subject of why we like the sounds we call 'music' more than different sounds." Well, hello, distinctive individuals have diverse suppositions about what music is great, or even what music IS. A few people love music which other individuals call simply commotion. A few people respect the breeze stirring through the trees as music. Some way or another, we simply like a few sounds and other individuals like others, much the same as a few people like the tastes of a few nourishments and others like the tastes of others. That is only the manner in which it is, and any clarification would sound to me like only a reason.

Our brains are large enough to learn large amounts of information after birth (compared to the majority of other Earth-based animals). Our brain doesn't know the difference between wind rustling through the trees, and a tiger moving through the brush, but with experience, we can learn the difference (though it isn't perfect, and is prone to errors). This leads into the first point, there's specific qualities in music that tickle our pattern recognition. As we are exposed to music, we learn what a certain style sounds like. Then within that style of music, we will gravitate towards songs that in one moment feel very familiar, but also surprise our ability to recognize patterns.

A contemporary example that's easy to point out is EDM (electronic dance music). EDM follows some fairly predictable patterns, and even the disruption of that pattern is predictable (dropping the bass), but it is the skill with which the composer places that disruption that makes specific songs more enjoyable (for those that are familiar and enjoy EDM) than other songs.

I could be wrong, and there's certainly more too it than that.


I love this thread very much because it is so alive with opinions. I think we like music so much because our brains' mirror neurons start empathising with the lyrics and music and we start more than vibing with the music.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This episode of the Mindscape podcast has some great information about how music affects the brain from a neuroscientist's point of view.


myanime002 wrote:
myanime002 wrote:
I saw a video of Leonard Bernstein showing youngsters music appreciation. In it, he inquired as to why we like music - why we should like the sounds we call music more than different sounds - and replied: "I don't have the foggiest idea." Really, those were his words. In the event that somebody who commits his life to music and is that awesome at it answers "I don't have the foggiest idea", I don't figure the appropriate response could be clear. Actually, I see music as an addictive medication. When we get snared on it, regardless of how we legitimize it, we're simply best hair toners in 2019 encouraging the fixation. Goodness, I COULD legitimize it. I could recount a long tale about how music enhanced my wellbeing, and the logical proof I need to demonstrate it. In any case, even that would just be a reason. For what reason do we like it? We simply do. Maybe Yqatuba, perusing this post, may state "Yet that doesn't manage the subject of why we like the sounds we call 'music' more than different sounds." Well, hello, distinctive individuals have diverse suppositions about what music is great, or even what music IS. A few people love music which other individuals call simply commotion. A few people respect the breeze stirring through the trees as music. Some way or another, we simply like a few sounds and other individuals like others, much the same as a few people like the tastes of a few nourishments and others like the tastes of others. That is only the manner in which it is, and any clarification would sound to me like only a reason.
Our brains are large enough to learn large amounts of information after birth (compared to the majority of other Earth-based animals). Our brain doesn't know the difference between wind rustling through the trees, and a tiger moving through the brush, but with experience, we can learn the difference (though it isn't perfect, and is prone to errors). This leads into the first point, there's...

When you think about it the whole concept is kinda weird. I mean, if we were visited by a race of aliens that didn't have music and they asked us why we made it could you explain why? I couldn't.

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