Music moves us. Think about the first childhood moment when you heard Bing Crosby sing Christmas carols. The first time you danced to Stairway to Heaven at an awkward junior high dance. The rush of hearing the first few chords of your favorite song at a live gig. The joy of the ice cream truck jingle. Music gifts are poignant and meaningful – but why?
There is no denying that music can evoke powerful emotions in its listeners, but a new study published in the academic journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences seems to show that this is more than nostalgia at work. Many scientists now believe that we are evolutionarily programmed to respond emotionally to music.
As National Geographic states, this study suggests that our “cognitive connection to music may have evolved from an older skill, the ability to glean emotion from motion.” But what exactly does this mean?
In our evolutionary past, if we heard a fast approaching predator we would feel excitement and panic; if we heard the soft gentle breathing of our mother after nursing, we would know things were safe and we could relax. These triggers in our brain seem to have been adapted to glean emotion from music – and oh what emotions we feel!
The next time you plan on using Mixette to make a lovingly bespoke digital mixtape for your friend, beloved or family member, just remember: they are literally wired to respond to the music contained within. A genuine emotional response and human connection? Not too shabby for a humble mixtape app, if we do say so ourselves.