Music and Group Bonding

Music is a powerful ingredient in human societies,  that facilitates group binding  and conveys feelings more poignantly than other forms of communication. Karen Shrock suggested: "As a college student , my eyes would often well up with tears during my twice-a-week choir rehearsals. I would feel relaxed and at peace yet excited and joyful, and I occasionally experienced a thrill so powerful that it sent shivers down my spine . I also felt connected with fellow musicians in a way I did not with friends who did not sing with me. I have often wondered what it is about music that elicits such emotions . Philosophers and biologists have asked the question for centuries, noting that humans are universally drawn to music. It consoles us when we are sad, pumps us up in happier times and bonds us to others."


Steven Pinker suggested that music offers a system of communication rooted in emotions rather than in meaning.Oliver Sacks in his book Musicophilia suggested that music is as important communication as language and gesture. I prefer to recognize that music is language and gesture, not really a separate form of communication. Music is feeling is meaning.

Scholarly investigations of music will emphasize the efforts of highly skilled professional musicians and forget that music begins with full participation of all members of  local groups. Singing, dancing, chanting are aspect s of group identity and group cohesion. An ideal human group is coordinated by rhythmic expressions; they play instruments, sing and dance often. Music, as a performance by skilled musicians who play to silent audiences sitting on chairs is a recent innovation that does not represent the deeper meaning of musical communication.

Karen Schrock suggested that music "is almost always a communal event: everyone gets together to sing, dance , an play instruments. Even in societies which differentiate musical performers from listeners, people enjoy music together in a wide variety of settings: dancing at a wedding or nightclub, singing hymns in church, crooning with their kids, Christmas caroling and singing "Happy Birthday" at a party. The popularity of such rituals suggests that music confers social cohesiveness, perhaps by creating empathetic connections among members of a group. Music's power stems from its tendency to synchronize our activities."

Uit: Human Nature: Innate Properties of Human (Stephen  J.Gislason MD)