Why does music make us happy?

A WordPress Daily Post question that interested me was “When you’re feeling down, what kind of music cheers you up?” For me I am really uplifted by the nostalgia of songs and albums that I have known for years but haven’t listened to in a while. I really enjoy looking back on good music that I first listened to at least four years ago.

But I think a more weird and interesting question is why does music make people happy or sad or anything else at all? Why do we even perceive music as music? What is the difference between music and any other sounds? Wouldn’t we seem rather strange to someone from another planet who came down to find out about us a species, and who discovered that we not only enjoy listening to certain patterns of sound waves, but these patterns actually cause a whole range of emotions in us, sometimes making us laugh or cry?

Of course, I am in no way trying to demean music or musicians/singers/songwriters etc. To me, like the vast majority of other people, music is enjoyable, interesting and far more than just random patterns of noise. But when you think about it, it is hard to understand that music, which – unlike all other forms of art – doesn’t really mean anything, can have such a very large impact on our emotions and desires.

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