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Music is a form of sound designed manipulate the emotions. It is pervasive through almost every store, restaurant, hotel lobby, most social gatherings, is heard constantly through the walls of most apartment buildings, heard from every street with cars as people play it with their windows rolled down. It is inserted into the background of technological displays such as videos, computer games, and some menus. If stores and elevators sprayed mood-altering chemicals, people would violently oppose it, but playing carefully crafted sound designed to be mood-altering is accepted. So how did music originate? Was there a time where crafting soundwaves to alter emotions was seen as unusual? Actually, the use of music goes back to before recorded history so nobody knows. Even neanderthals made musical instruments.

The best guess at origins is zoomusicology, the study of the musical aspects of sound or communication produced and received by animals. According to François-Bernard Mâche, "If it turns out that music is a wide spread phenomenon in several living species apart from man, this will very much call into question the definition of music, and more widely that of man and his culture, as well as the idea we have of the animal itself."[1]

Musicologist Marcello Sorce Keller attributes musical qualities to animal sounds, specifically whales' and birds' songs, by stating that regional variations can be found that resemble cultural traits in human music. He advocates for a combined study of zoomusicology and ethnomusicology with the remark that he "would like to suggest that musical scholarship excluding non-human animals cannot ultimately describe 'how musical is man'”[2]

As a test of his theory of the emotional origins of music,[3] David Teie created species-specific music and tested it on cotton-top tamarin monkeys at the University of Wisconsin.[4] The results of the study, led by Charles T. Snowdon, indicate that the species-specific music written by Teie was the first music that was shown to be effective for any species other than human in a controlled study. Shinji Kanki composes music for dolphins according to conventions found in dolphin music or found to please dolphins in his Music for Dolphins (Ultrasonic Improvisational Composition) for underwater ultrasonic loudspeakers (2001).

Music, particularly degenerate music, is also used as a form of torture by professional torturers such as in the United States Armed Forces.[5] It is also used in sieges, such as the FBI siege of Waco. This form of torture has long lasting effects and one of the people inside the Waco compound still suffers post traumatic stress from the blaring music the FBI played at the siege.[6]

See also


  1. Mâche, François-Bernard (1992). Music, Myth and Nature: or, The Dolphins of Arion, 95. 
  2. (2012) "Zoomusicology and Ethnomusicology: A Marriage to Celebrate in Heaven". Yearbook for Traditional Music 44. doi:10.5921/yeartradmusi.44.0166.
  3. (2013) "9", Evolution of Emotional Communication. Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 133–151. ISBN 978-0-19-958356-0. 
  4. (2010) "Affective responses in tamarins elicited by species-specific music". Biology Letters of the Royal Society B 6: 30–32. Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2009.0593. Retrieved on 20 July 2014.