Society's Need to Make Music: A Theoretical Investigation

August 1, 2011 / By: Shandra Prowell

The problem of this thesis is to investigate theories about the origin, function and value of music in society and to discuss their implications on music education in the 21st century. Research was based on the most prevalent theories on the origin and functions of music. To reflect the most recent theories the primary literature chosen was, with a few exceptions, published after 1997 and the authors chosen were those who had written the most on the topic or who were leaders in their fields of research on the subject. There are three basic theories concerning the evolution of music: language first, music first and protolanguage first. Natural selection can be seen as both an origin and a function. Another major function is social bonding which can be broken up into categories according to the six types of song identified by Daniel Levitin. They are songs of: friendship, comfort, love, joy, knowledge and religion. Further functions which also manifest as outcomes of music include emotional communication, emotional well-being and self discovery, physical well-being, brain development and cognitive development. Many of the authors agree that music making shaped human physiology, cognition, and society. These findings have implications for music's place in the educational system in terms of its capacity to influence students' physical, cognitive and social growth for studentts and to prepare them for a successful future.