Sing Your Heart Out is a blog by Brooke Baker exploring community music-making, choirs & singing ensembles.  

Group Singing as an Evolutionary Mechanism for a Happier Society

Most people will agree, music is nice. Maybe we don’t all agree on just which music is best, but upon reflection, the majority of humans will agree that music of some kind or another offers a uniquely deep & innate pull or power to move them.

Music moves humans

Folk who sing together feel it firsthand; within their own body & in the shiny eyes of an engaged audience. But for the curious scientific mind, there is the lingering question of Why!? Evolutionary biology was born out of Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” discoveries & for the last 80 years has looked into how creatures adapt & thrive in different environments. For studies around humans, this includes exploring questions around what traits & behaviours equip us to survive & thrive, not only as individuals but as a species. Research from our evolutionary biologist friends serve society widely, finding effects from environmental planning to economics, politics to parenting helping us better understand how humans connect with one another, our history & the world around us.

SCIENCE SEEKS TO UNDERSTAND WHY MUSIC AFFECTS US THE WAY IT DOES

Science has been scrambling to better understand & measure the way group singing affects its participants. What philosophers & artists, lovers & musicians have known for centuries is becoming increasingly & quantifiably apparent; Music is good for humans. Benefits for the individual & community include; elevating spirits, counteracting negative feelings & fostering connection & community.

Music builds a happier & more interconnected world

 
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As researchers probe the subject, a picture is emerging where music offers a uniquely powerful & hopeful mechanism to build a happier & more interconnected world. With findings from seven studies, neuroscientists Chris Loersch and Nathan L. Arbuckle advocate that music evolved as a tool of social living.

 
 

When you stop & think about it, it makes a lot of sense. On an individual biochemical level, singers bodies release both endorphins (bursts of joy direct from the pleasure centre of the brain) & oxytocin or the “hug hormone”. As well as relieving feelings of stress & anxiety, Oxytocin promotes feelings of trust & bonding so it’s no wonder singers often experienced feelings of kinship & belonging after singing alongside a group of relative strangers.

You have a place in this big, interconnected world.

Evolution's Reward

It seems these positive emotions are a kind evolutionary reward; biology dangling a carrot if you will, to come together cooperatively & contribute to something beyond yourself, rather than sitting alone in ones cave whittling a bigger club.

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With little demand for equipment, infrastructure or assets, there are few barriers to entry; just one more hopeful piece to the far-reaching puzzle of a happier & more cooperative tomorrow.

Sing as a choir. Be part of a clan beyond your cave.

 

Consider joining a choir

Hey audience member!