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The Popularity of Music
Music is a form of art that has been part of the human experience for thousands of years. It is a universal medium for communication and emotion. Whether a complex and intellectually demanding orchestral composition or a plaintive folk song, it can express the full range of emotions. It is also an important business and entertainment industry, with a multibillion-dollar market that includes production, recording, concert tours, album sales and streaming.
Many philosophers, psychologists and anthropologists have considered the functions of music. Plato and Aristotle, for example, viewed the arts as a reflection of an ideal world. Confucius (551-479 bce) believed that music was an important social bonding force, a way to express emotion and create harmony. More recently, neurologist Oliver Sacks has shown that people suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s find relief through listening to their favorite songs.
There is no definitive explanation for the popularity of music, but many scholars have identified some general principles that have influenced its development and unique expression in different cultures throughout history. These include the perception of a musical work as a unified whole; the importance of rhythm, tonality and melody; the association between specific pitches and particular emotions; and the role of musical instruments in performance.
The popularity of specific genres varies widely from culture to culture, as do the instruments used in musical performance. The distinct subfields of musicology and music history investigate the evolution and historical development of popular musical styles.