Music has the ability to change the emotional and physical status of people, whether they are in bad moods, good moods, or sad moods. Music can also make people feel the suspense or excitement while watching a movie.
Music is part of the complex organism that is the human being and emotional expression is a very great part of that. I would prefer to say that music is a unique way of knowing the world, which goes along with other ways of knowing the world: visual, linguistic, phonetic, psychological, and mathematical.
Music is utterly entwined with notions of memory, of emotion, of identity, of relationship with place and time; of relationship with other human beings, with all living and inanimate objects, relations with the heavens, with the gods, people's ways of interpreting their worlds or their cosmologies in their own particular ways, very culturally specific ways.
Different types of music directly trigger different emotions. While happiness causes you to breathe faster, sadness causes a rise in blood pressure and temperature and a slower pulse. Faster music played in a major key caused the same physical reactions associated with happiness, and slower music played in a minor key resulted in those associated with sadness.
We may wonder what is the utility that music provides to humanity, and if there is one indeed. There are tree main theories that try to explain this mystery:
- Music evolved through sexual selection - Charles Darwin
- Music allowed for social cohesion on a larger scale than was available to more primitive primates, which create and enforce group ties through the physical process of mutual grooming - Robin Dumbar
- The enjoyment of music is just a “happy accident,” a by-product of mental mechanisms that evolved for other purposes - Steven Pinker