Music has long been an integral component of almost all cultures around the world. It serves various functions such as social bonding, emotional expression, transcendental meaning, escapism and arousal.

However, how accurate are these statements? Recent studies appear to indicate four key functions of music as the source.


Music’s exact origins remain uncertain; however, anthropologists and sociologists have yet to discover a culture without music. Some anthropologists and sociologists speculate that its first appearance was as an information exchange tool, perhaps providing feedback about potential mates; other theories suggest music allows individuals to express emotions and ideas through song.

Music’s flexibility lends it an easeful connection with other arts and rituals, including dance and theatre, serving as the backdrop to stories and movies alike. Music can evoke powerful emotions while instilling people with an appreciation of beauty.

Music comes from the Greek msike, or art of the muses. Ancient Greek philosopher Plato and his disciple Aristotle believed that music was created by nine muses: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (double-pipes and song), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (lyric poetry), Terpsichore (dance), Urania (astronomy) and Thalia (comedy). Later in 17th century Germany, German astronomer Johannes Kepler proposed that music was based upon universal rhythm and subconscious recognition of numerical relationships.


An intriguing approach to understanding music’s origins is by considering its functions today. Under this view, ancient functions for music could possibly reverberate through modern uses – perhaps through our use of music for extramusical preoccupations such as meditation.

These include simple entertainment to coping with boredom or strengthening social bonds. Some functions of music may be tied directly to certain musical characteristics while others relate more directly to an individual listener’s psychological or physical state.

Numerous surveys and questionnaire studies have yielded a long list of musical functions, leading to attempts at distilling them down to a few key dimensions using statistical methods such as factor analysis or cluster analyses. From these attempts have come collections or lists of functional categories for music that draw upon specific theoretical approaches while also drawing from literature research.


Music comes in various forms. While some forms may draw on traditional elements from one culture or genre, other contemporary ones are created by contemporary artists and serve to tell stories or increase emotions while providing entertainment; more advanced musical forms may even include orchestral and operatic performances.

Rock music is an evolving musical style characterized by driving rhythms and electric guitars, popularized by artists such as Madonna and Michael Jackson who have produced hit after hit in this genre.

Folk music is a genre rooted in traditional culture that contains social messages as well as catchy melodies that are recognized by most people. Legendary musicians such as Woodie Guthrie and Bob Dylan have had significant impacts on this musical genre.

Jazz music originated during the 1930s and 1940s. This musical genre can be distinguished by ensembles featuring brass instruments and rhythm sections; quickly identifiable melodies; intricate harmonies and fast paced melodies are hallmarks of this style, pioneered by greats such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk who helped push its limits forward.


Music has the power to energize our bodies, calm our minds and even make us happier – which explains why so much music therapy has been employed as an entertainment technique or therapy treatment for emotional problems such as depression.

Music that you find pleasing stimulates pleasure centers in your brain and releases dopamine, an endorphin-like neurotransmitter known to lift mood. Furthermore, listening to music may even increase immunity-enhancing antibodies and cell activity against bacteria.

Research has proven that music can help people focus and perform cognitive tasks better, yet its effect can differ depending on your unique mind – what works for one may distract another, and what relaxes one may agitate another. Music has long been used as a powerful force of social change by engaging communities together; inspiring courage, inspiring participation, and unifying diverse cultural groups like in the civil rights movement with freedom songs that helped bolster support for black communities.