Music Unites Us

Music Unites Us

Of course, music isn’t the kind of language we’ll use, say, to order food at the drive-thru or book a car appointment at the garage (even for a car tune up, hehe).

Music transcends words. It operates on an emotional frequency to make us feel. Even in songs with lyrics, it’s the song’s harmonic and rhythmic structure that affects us most. We’re attuned to rhythms, beats, patterns, and melodies, a process that began in earnest before we even set foot in the real world. As another Harvard study proved, a mother’s voice and heartbeat — the first “song” we hear, one that plays to us on a constant loop as we float in the amniotic fluid of our mother’s womb — is like sunshine on our baby brain, helping its auditory cortex bloom, while reinforcing our sense of human connection.

Once out of the womb and into the cold world, we’re sung lullabies to make us feel warm and safe. We use music at weddings to celebrate, at funerals to help us mourn. We listen to it for pleasure, relief, to connect, and to get us through the day. It marks the chapters in our lives like growth notches on a door frame.

The expression “Music is the universal language of mankind” was coined by American Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow nearly 200 years ago. Turns out he was scientifically right.

A recent Harvard study that observed 315 different societies across the world revealed that not only does music exist in each one, but that there’s a universal “right” sound for songs used for similar occasions.

Lullabies, healing songs, dance songs, and love songs share common compositional features, a type of “musical grammar” that is rooted in our collective human psyche. In a sense, you could say that we are all plugged into the same pipeline of musical consciousness, singing the same tunes since the beginning of time.

Music knows no boundaries. It doesn’t care about regular speech or man-made borders between tribes. It has the power to instantly create kinship between strangers. There’s no better example of this than the rapturous sense of unity we feel at a live concert as we revel in the music together. Music binds us, like polymer between the cracks.

From the moment we hear a heart beat, to after our own has given way, music is our eternal legacy, passed down through generations.

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