Music: Origin, Evolution and Applications

Music is a connection between oneself and the universe. Vibrations give rise to notes and from notes melodies are born. These travel through the universe and bring satisfaction and happiness to us.

Music is universal. It is responsible for the harmony between all entities of the cosmos. It has existed from the start of the universe, and it will continue to exist till the end of time. Music lives in each and every animate and inanimate thing. Beating of heart, rhythmic breathing, rustling of leaves, flow of a river, thundering of clouds, roaring of wind, sounds of various animals and birds, our own voice and
all such phenomena are in some way or the other related to music.

Thus, it is quite evident that music is omnipresent. Music is so powerful that even a deaf man can feel its presence. Hence, music is not just a form of art, but it is an all-pervading entity.

Music, when considered as a universal entity, is boundless, and eternal. But music as a form of art is much more structured and disciplined.

When viewed as a form of art, music is the process of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, rhythm, harmony and timbre. It is characterised by various parameters such as pitch, timbre, texture, form, tempo, loudness, structure, emotion, etc. A musical piece or arrangement is the one in which all elements are perfectly balanced.

The origin of music as a form of art is unknowable, as it occurred far prior to recorded history. Prehistoric period in music, that is music produced by preliterate cultures, began around 6 million years ago. Instruments, dated to be around 50,000 to 60,000 years old, have also been discovered. This data suggests the extremely old culture of music.

Since the prehistoric period, music has evolved, and it became more and more sophisticated as time progressed. Over time, different cultures in different geographic locations started perceiving music uniquely and started its categorization, which laid the foundations for the currently observed diversity in music. With time, structure of music started becoming more solid, and the borders between different types of music started becoming more and more clear. And this led to extensive diversification of music in the whole world.

Some of the most prominent countries which contributed to the development of music in the ancient period were China, India, Iran and Greece. Chinese music dates to around 6000 BCE. From that point onwards, a variety of instruments were invented along with the overall development of music. Chinese culture has always been closely associated with dance, literature and fine arts – all aspects that can be referred to by the Chinese word for music, ‘yue’.

Indian music, also referred to as Indian classical music, dates to around 1200 to 1000 BCE, when Samaveda was composed. Indian classical music finds its roots in the four Vedas, which describe music at length. Similarly in other countries too, the development of music started very early, the result of which is today’s rich and diverse music.

Music was primarily used by humans for communication, expressing emotions, and as a means of entertainment. Many a times, music mirrors the current state of mind of the person portraying it, and it has the power to transfer that state to all others who are witnessing the process. Thus, in many events, music is used as an introduction, to cheer up the audience and to keep up the excitement.

But, along with these uses, music also has extensive applications in the field of medicine. The basis of these applications lies in the fact that about ninety percent of a human’s sensory data is auditory, and hence it affects the functioning of the body to a large extent.

The human body shows different set of responses to the changes in different elements of music such as melody, harmony, key, mode, meter, pitch, rhythm, texture, quality, range, form and instrumentation. The branch of medicine which deals with the study of these responses, and treatment of various diseases based on these responses, is called music therapy.

Music has been used as a healing entity for centuries. It was used for healing by the Egyptians by 5000 BCE. Around 400 BCE, Hippocrates used music to heal mental patients. Music was considered, by Aristotle, as a force that affected the soul and purified emotions. Indians used different ragas for the treatment of various diseases, where each raga was used for the treatment of a specific disease, and this selection depended upon which combination of notes was used in that particular raga. Thus, healing with the help of music has been around for a long time, and it is extremely important for all humans to understand this power of music, especially when we live in a world filled with diseases and ailments.

Music helps different organs to respond faster to medicines, thus reducing the number of medicines taken and the time required for recovery. It also helps to regulate the secretion of various enzymes, hormones, and other biological secretions, thus maintaining overall balance in the body. It helps in dealing with various diseases like autism, coronary heart disease, stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, aphasia, and to some extent cancer. Along with these, it helps in the treatment of many other minor ailments like cough, cold, headache, body pain, etc. It also helps in increasing concentration, improving memory, controlling our emotions and disciplining the mind. Due to the calm and soothing effect of music, it is very convenient for everyone to use. Unlike many of the medicines, there are no age restrictions on the use of music therapy. It can be used for people from all age groups, right from infants to elder people. Hence, it is very important for everyone to understand the importance of music therapy, and to spread its awareness and knowledge.

Along with the above-mentioned applications, music is also used in spirituality. It is usually coupled with chants and other religious texts to enrichen the experience, and to obtain a stable mind, which is the base of all spiritual practices.

Thus, from the wide range of applications music has in today’s world, it is evident that music is one of the most important aspects of human life, and it is crucial for everyone to practice some or the other forms of music to stay healthy in both body and mind.