What Is Music and Why Is It Important?


Music has long been one of the most beloved activities among humans, yet few behaviors remain more enigmatic in terms of origin or function – with speculation continuing today as to its true purpose and utility.

Theory behind music has varied considerably over time, from Pythagoreans’ belief that music is mathematical to Rene Descartes’ assertion that it serves virtue. Research on musical functions has also proven highly diverse, covering topics as diverse as personality psychology and social identity.


Music has long been used for extramusical pursuits beyond itself. These include its use in rituals and ceremonies (religious, military, courtly) as well as musical theatre productions.

In the 9th century there was an effort to unify different chant traditions, leading to polyphonic (2 melodies played simultaneously). Also this period marked the development of staff notation for music notation purposes.

Music has long been used as an agent of social and cultural change across cultures, particularly the West. It has had a profound effect on literature and poetry while forging alliances with dance, acting, visual art, film etc. However, some have claimed music to be superfluous or unnecessary activity despite evidence to the contrary; this remains an entrenched belief which remains valid today.


Music can help people express emotions, stimulate thoughts and feelings, create relaxation and provide entertainment. Furthermore, it can serve to communicate messages or ideas among different cultures as well as build bridges among people of similar interests.

Researchers exploring the functions of music have employed various approaches when conducting their investigations: from open-ended questionnaires and open collections or categories derived from specific theoretical perspectives and prior research to formal statistical methods such as factor analyses in order to discover basic discrete dimensions within these functions.

Researchers who consider music an efficient form of distraction may have identified its most predictive functions as emotion regulation, diversion, self-reflection, memory recalling and social bonding. Other studies have similarly discovered similar outcomes and the list of musical functions continues to expand.


Forms provide musicians with a framework for how melodies, harmonies, and rhythms should combine. Understanding these structures enables musicians to compose music with a clear overall plan in mind while listeners appreciate the subtle nuances found within compositions that follow certain forms.

At its core, music can be broken down to its fundamental level – or measure level – using distinct beats that are then combined and arranged in various ways to form melodic, harmonic and rhythmic phrases.

Other levels of musical forms include binary (simple or compound), ternary, and through-composed forms. ABA form songs typically feature both verses and choruses with an interlude section between verses; in strophic song form the melody repeats itself with different lyrics in every verse.


Musicians employ various techniques and skillsets to produce sounds and play their instruments, enabling them to express their ideas as clearly as possible.

Riffing is a vocal technique involving melodic embellishment, structured or unstructured creative improvisation by the artist, expressiveness, agility, and precision. Many famous singers, such as Beyonce, use this method to draw listeners in when starting songs.

Kodaly believed it was important for students to first gain an understanding of musical language through familiar folk tunes, helping them form strong inner ears from an early stage and associate patterns, notes, and pitch with one another. Etudes were then used to teach specific musical skills like arpeggios chords harmonic distortion – something Kodaly believed would give students a holistic understanding of music that went beyond notation or tonality.


Musicians strive to build meaningful connections with their audiences. But developing a fan base can be challenging for artists who strive to remain genuine in their musical performances.

Cultural context often determines where music can be heard. Classical pieces often find an audience at concert halls and churches where attendees must remain silent, while popular songs tend to be performed at bars and dance halls where fans are welcome to drink and cheer!

Sociomusicology, often considered a subset of ethnomusicology, studies the relationship between music and its composers in culture and their public attitudes toward them. Certain styles such as late Beethoven string quartets, Stravinsky ballet scores or serialism initially encountered resistance from academics when breaking with convention.