How Music Brings Us Together

Interestingly, in a world where many things are tearing us apart –from terrorism to drug trafficking –  music seems to continue bringing people closer together no matter their race, political beliefs, gender, religion, sexuality and any other affiliations. Moreover, despite the language used to compose the song, listening to music has been shown in many studies to directly impact the brain’s neurochemicals, leading to the situation when people start to feel close and connected to one another (Egermann, Fernando, Chuen, and McAdams 3). Thus, with reference to the video Common Practice, it is evident that as individuals listen to music, they are literally and figuratively brought together through an increase in empathy, cooperation, and social connection.

First and foremost, music is composed primarily by artist’s experiences. That is, he or she writes about what they personally experience in life. Since people’s experiences are in most cases similar – love, hate, happiness, and sadness to name a few – they tend to connect on an emotional level about what the artist experiences, or his moods at the moment. In the video Common Practice one can see that all individuals are going through their own lives with their own emotions being experienced. Some individuals in the video are sad, some happy, silent, jovial but as soon as the boy hits the notes on the violin, everyone stops and listens (Efron, Marcos). Suddenly, they all adapt to one empathetic mood dictated by the boy playing the violin. It seems as though the song reminds them of some special moment in their lives when things were calm or creates the sense of peace and tranquility. This atmosphere is so intense that all of them appear to enjoy the moment of fulfillment and have their moods change instantly. Scientifically, music has been shown to increase and activate cognitive events in different parts of the brain (Bakagiannis and Tarrant 129). These areas include the circuit of the brain, a section responsible for the developed understanding of interpersonal and intrapersonal communication – a social skill linked to empathy (Bakagiannis and Tarrant 130). As a result, when people listen to a particular piece of music composed by a fellow human being (an artist, not a machine), their “theory of mind” circuit and critical network lights up leading to an increase on empathy level.

Secondly, through music people cooperate on social, cultural, or spiritual levels. When I think of the favorite lullabies passed down from one generation to another, the national anthem, football anthems, the favorite cultural or religious songs, emotionally they are connected, and physically coordinated in a unique way. When individuals notice that someone loves the same song that we love, or enjoys the song as much as they do, it is not just about entertainment to them, but rather a means of connection (Schäfer et al, 2). In the video Common Practice people are going about their business without any care about things or other people. But then, as soon as the boy strolls along holding the violin people start taking notice of his music and the surroundings (Efron, Marcos). When he starts playing the violin, people are taken to another state of mind. Soon after the gloomy guy in the taxi begins admiring his girlfriend, the mother holds her baby tighter, two lovers continue smiling, and people in the streets talk to one another as they leave (Efron, Marcos). Studies show that cooperation and social cohesion is higher within groups that listen to familiar music pieces with the peers (Tarr, Launay and Dunbar, 1-2). The effect is also true across cultures where interdependence is not valued much as music tends to act as a “social glue”; bringing all individuals closer together.

Thirdly, people in love, as well as mothers and their babies bond even greatly through music. These groups of people attach meaning to pieces of music, and common listening increases their attraction to one another. Whenever mothers are with their babies, lovers or partners are together; they can turn to music to boost their bond levels. Once their favorite songs are playing, whether together or not, the bond of such persons between one another strengthens: That is one of the reasons people listen to a piece of music and remember their loved ones. In the video Common Practice, we see two lovers giggling and romancing at the stairways (Efron, Marcos). As the boy goes up the stairs with the violin, they follow him and sit close to his door. As soon as the boy starts playing the violin, they seem to move through a wave of emotions and love, and as soon as the song is over, they seem to have bonded over it even more and start caressing one another passionately (Efron, Marcos). In the same manner, the mother and her child listen to the music and bond on “another level.” The mother seems to love the child even more and caresses the baby as they listen to the song together (Efron, Marcos). Scientist believes that oxytocin – a chemical affiliated with sexual bond and breastfeeding – increases significantly when listening to music (Suttie). The increase in the levels of oxytocin deepens feeling of bonding, love, and trust between people in love and with the mother and child. Consequently, they – lovers or mother and child – become more attached to one another while listening to a particular piece of music together.

Lastly, the music cuts across all cultures and goes over all cultural barriers. It does not matter whether one understand the words or not, listening to a great piece of music ticks people’s senses in a way not possible by any other piece of art. The reason why some of the most listened songs on YouTube are foreign – Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, Gangnam Style (Korean) by Psy, Bailando (Spanish) by Enrique Iglesias, Descemer Bueno, and Genre De Sona as other examples. This is due to the fact that music communicates to all people in a unique way (Moloney). In the video Common Practice there is a representation of people from different cultures, genders, and races. Nonetheless, the sound of the music from the violinist reaches to them all. They all stand and take notice of the boy’s rhythm, enjoying it in their own ways. The old, the young, the men, the women, the children, all being representatives of different cultures, listen to the music with smiles on their faces as the violin soothes their ears. McGill University study on the effects of music across all cultures, the researchers found out that although various cultures feel differently about the impact of a particular piece of music – whether good or bad – their physiological and subjective response to whether the music brings excitement or calmness appeared to be universal (Egermann et al 3). Thus, it does not matter whether one comes from the most remote part of Africa, or is a hipster in Montreal, there are certain aspects of music that will touch anyone in a similar way.

In conclusion, music brings us together through bonding in a physical, social, or emotional way. Members of any specific group attracted to a specific piece of music seem in-tune with one another. Watching the video Common Practice one realizes that music cuts across all ages, cultures, and races. After listening to some piece of music, the social cooperation and cohesion levels increase tremendously. Scientific evidence points to higher levels of oxytocin and increased brain activities in the circuit area as responsible for how people respond to music. Through the increased levels of oxytocin and elevated cognitive activities, music affects people in a similar manner and leads to their responding in universal manner. The more people listen to the music, the more they become attached to one another. At a time when the world faces crisis after crisis, music is here to restore the faith, love, and unity that humans have towards one another. Thus, as individuals strive to understand and support each other, they can do so in one of the most delightful ways possible – through music.