We all love music – it’s followed us through history with beginnings that go back to the origins of existence. It stirs old memories, brings a smile, and has the power to evoke any emotion. But why does it strike a chord with all of us, without exception?
History of music
In 2008, the oldest musical instrument ever found was presented to the world. A flute made of vulture bone was unearthed in southern Germany – thought to come from around the time humans first settled in central Europe.
It shows that music is truly ingrained in us, with traditions of music-making stretching through history no matter what situation humans find themselves in. The flute demonstrates an intimate understanding of acoustics, 40 millennia in the past – and since then has evolved over generations of exploration in musical creation.
Music imitates life
As music is so ingrained in our culture, it’s unsurprising that we hear the world around us in the music we listen to. It’s how meaning is imbued in simple sounds and collections of tones. Take, for example, a section of descending pitch. This gives the impression of losing power and energy – mainly because as things slow down, they tend to produce sounds of a lower frequency, and therefore a lower pitch.
And when vibration is introduced into music, it manages to create a feeling of tension and emotion – which is all down to the parallels with the shaky voices we associate with extreme feelings. When the things we hear in music mirror real-life situations, we naturally match the associations.
As time’s gone by, it’s pop that’s taken over as the music of the masses – but what makes this genre so loved? It often comprises catchy melodic lines or sections that might be referred to as an “earworm” or has a general feel-good sensation, but there’s a little more to it. In recent analysis, researchers have said they might have the answer. They’ve identified a musical trend known as ‘harmonic surprise’ – the introduction of unexpected chords. The most successful songs demonstrate a high rate of harmonic surprise, and spreading it intelligently throughout a track for maximum engagement.
Throughout modern pop’s history, you can see distinct trends in music families. Music that can be classed as hip-hop or rap saw little success until the end of the 1980s, when it skyrocketed into one of the largest portions of the market. On the other hand, funk, blues, jazz and soul have seen a steady decrease in popularity since records began at the end of the 1950s. By tracking this, researchers can specify what kind of genres will be popular in future, and categorise what’s trending at the moment.
It’s clear to hear – by looking closer at the patterns involved in music, we can see why it appeals so strongly to our ears and psyches. That’s what makes it such a vital part of a brand identity – and why every business can use it to make a real mark on their customer.