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Laurel J Trainor (2010)

The emotional origins of music

Physics of Life Reviews, 7(1):44-45.

Producing and perceiving music are mysterious universal human behaviours in that they appear to have no obvious survival value, but can nonetheless evoke profound social and emotional experiences [13]. A number of theories have been proposed as to why music might have evolved, the most convincing of which suggests that emotions induced by music are felt in common by members of a group, and that this shared experience leads to the social cohesion necessary for group cooperation [3], [5] and [6]. Indeed music is universally present at all important societal events, including religious ceremonies, political rallies, weddings, funerals, sporting events, and military attacks. In all cases, the music acts to induce a common emotion and a common purpose in a group of individuals, and the resulting cooperation likely increases the probability of survival for the group as a whole.