Music, as we know it today, can be seen as a structured language.
A codified system, molded by cultural factors, which allows the organization of what otherwise would be an instinctive, purely emotional musicality.
This may confirm what the psychologist Steven Pinker said about music, that is just an “auditory cheesecake“. But I think it is true only if we refer to the organized, structured musical system. Musicality, on the other hand, is something that may have had an evolutionary purpose.
We use our innate musicality every day in many different situations. Music usually induces emotional responses in listeners, some of which seem to be universal. We are able to distinguish between a person screaming for pain and another screaming for joy even without seeing them. Mothers and, in general carers, use music-like vocalizations to infants. Sometimes, to answer a question, we may just use an inarticulate sound, that will be easily interpreted by the other person. Musicality is at the base of our emotional expression and the thing goes also the other way around: we can perceive emotions interpreting musical cues.
The perception of emotions through musical cues (I’m referring here to pure musicality, like hearing someone crying or laughing, sighing or screaming) may have an effect on our emotional state. Changes in our emotional state are related to changes in our neurochemistry and physiological state, thus, musical cues may actually have a direct effect on our mind and body
Why all this boring explanation? Because this is the basis of my research. Music and simple, pure musicality, are very effective tools that can induce changes in our behavior, emotions, physiology, and these changes can be intentionally elicited. We can use music to modulate someone’s emotions, to relax or arouse, to focus his attention. Rhythm can help improve motor coordination. Musical entrainment (the synchronization of movements or physiological function to an externally perceived rhythm) can be very helpful to modify heart rate or respiratory frequency. From personal experience, I can say that even autistic rocking can be musically entrained, calmed and reduced.
Our innate musicality can be a gateway to our emotional state. It doesn’t necessarily need words to perceive and express emotions, which makes it a great tool with people who cannot speak and can be very effective to help improve speech when it is not well developed. Music is intellectually and emotionally enriching, it is a vehicle that can induce changes, modify habits, make someone feel safe. Using our musicality in a group helps socialization and improves interaction.
Music has saved me many times, it rescued me from pain, anxiety, loneliness, and I want to share its amazing power with you.