Why do people like to sing?

Posted by: admin on 11/05/2007

Who Asked: Christi

NaNo-novel: She Didn’t Say

Answer: We are hard-wired to like music. The Harvard Gazette says, “Babies come into the world with musical preferences. They begin to respond to music while still in the womb. At the age of 4 months, dissonant notes at the end of a melody will cause them to squirm and turn away. If they like a tune, they may coo.”

Telegraph Magazine Online reports that the inner ear is the only organ to reach full adult size by 24 weeks. The article goes on to say, "Music provides the feotus with sensory stimulation, and singing improves the emotional state of a pregnant woman, which can influence the growth and development of the baby in the womb."

Singing, in particular, releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. So it is only natural that people like to sing.

Further, singing the same song over again provides a sense of the familiar, and somehow makes it easier to learn things. Think about how easily you can learn the lyrics to a favorite song, even if it is really long or does not make much sense. Then think about how hard it is to learn, say, the periodic table. Perhaps that is why, according to NPR, “Professor Walter Smith at Haverford College often plays songs on his ukulele to teach complex concepts.”

Further, singing particular songs can arouse emotions of belonging to a particular culture. Cultural Identity, Nationalism and Changes in Singing Traditions says, “In the preindustrial traditional society, music, including singing, formed a part of the communications system of the community and its original functional value was tied to traditional rites. Singing occurred without particular aesthetic objective and without printed text, songs were used as a means for interpreting feelings, transmitting messages; strengthening group identity.”

I’d be interested to find out how this relates to your novel. Perhaps your character is a music therapist, a singer, or an anthropologist. Whatever the case, all the best for you and your novel.

Thanks for playing Stump the Librarian!


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