Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another with informal chemistry. Music has shown to activate many areas of the brain, including that which helps us to understand what others are thinking and feeling. This is empathy which strengthens our perceptions of social cohesion, but not all empathy looks and feels the same.

In 2013, Stefan Koelsch, Freie University Berlin, described in his research, how music impacts our ability to connect with one another by impacting brain circuits involving empathy, trust and culture with each one having is own brain network. This explains how it has survived in every culture in the world because it is such a powerful social magnet.

Making music involves coordinating efforts, especially if we want to produce a pleasing sound. Keeping the beat or harmonizing releases endorphins in the brains explaining why we get warm feelings when we make music together. This affects our ability to trust and act generously towards others energizing social connections.

Researchers have found that listening to soothing music a day after surgery released Oxycontin in the body.

Koelsch also discovered that when humans are told they are listening to music composed by a human and not a computer, the cortical level network lights up. This suggests we also process trying to understand the 'intent of the musician and what is being communicated'. So when music is sometimes performed at a very high speed, the intent and text of the intention and meaning could be lost.

Studies have found that social cohesion is higher in groups when people listen to similar music. It points to music's potential to act as a 'social glue' that binds people together. Music acts much like a language but instead of words and ideas, it communicates 'emotions and intent'.

So music can be passed on from generation to generation creating a sense of continuity, values and loyalty to one's community. The Haida and many First Nations have managed to do this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *