Discover Magazine recently re-published a fascinating 2001 article on music, its effects on the mind and the question of whether its development was tied to evolutionary survival. The article touches on why I am so passionate about the use of music in multimedia: Music is a powerful tool, one that focuses attention even at birth (or before). Why should we rob ourselves (or our audience) of its power?
The Discover piece quotes Hajime Fukui, an evolutionary psychologist at Nara University of Education in Japan:
“National anthems, work songs, party music, and war music all have the same effect,” Fukui says. “They diminish fear, relieve tension, and boost people’s sense of solidarity. Music moves people, throws them into a trancelike state, and paralyzes their ability to think logically. We might think that we are the users of music. In fact, we are not the puppeteers but the puppets of music.”
Puppets of music! I love it.
UPDATE: For a wonderfully eloquent view of the power of melody, see this post by Suzanne Vega on the New York Times’ Measure for Measure blog. Thanks Suzanne!