The music

Why music?

Music is a creation, a human invention, we live with it daily; where does it come from? Why did we invent it?

On the origin of music and its effects in humans, there are different theories and contributions, based on scientific studies, all very interesting and holding different views as to the origins of the relationship between humans and music.

The benefits of music for people have been studied extensively. Among its many properties, it is especially useful to relax, to promote the expression of emotions, to improve communication, and to enhance memory, to promote creativity and, during pregnancy listening to music benefits the mother, keeping her relaxed.

The origin of music

Music has been present in all cultures throughout history. It is possibly one of the oldest forms of communication between human beings, as the expression using sounds and dances predates the spoken language. Proof of this are the musical instruments found in archaeological sites between 6,000 and 8,000 years old. Also young babies respond best when we communicate with them through melodies, and not with words.

Could music be the activity that prepared our protohuman ancestors for verbal communication? It’s possible. There are various theories that claim this. One holds that music evolutionarily developed because it promotes cognitive development, i.e. knowledge. Others underline the origin of music as an element of attachment, relationship and social cohesion among humans.

Music is present whenever people are grouped: in religious rituals, university graduations, military parades, sporting events, romantic dinners, funerals, etc. Music is therefore a fundamental element of individual life, but also for living together in society.

The study of the evolutionary origin of music, and music as an instinct as it goes back to Darwin, who said that the musical instinct in men evolved through natural selection, as part of human mating rituals. In The Descent of Man he says: “I conclude that musical notes and rhythm were acquired in order to attract the opposite sex.” For his part, the American scientist Stanley Miller says that music has evolutionarily developed so that males attract females, a factor that remains today.

There are other later theories, for example, according to Sperber, Barrow and Pinker music has no rationale, it simply exists for the pleasure it gives us.

Other posts that might interest you

What music do foetuses prefer?

What music do foetuses prefer? Do they respond equally to all music? After completing the study with Bach flute music, Institut Marquès is investigating other types of music and sounds and is observing very different responses. They are currently analysing the response in terms of the proportion of foetuses that

Read more »

The scientific study of Institut Marqués

The scientific study of Institut Marqués How was the scientific study conducted? The study focused on getting the foetus to perceive a higher intensity of sound. To do this, we designed Babypod to deliver music from the mother’s vagina. The study was carried out on pregnant patients at our centre

Read more »

Music and foetal stimulation

Music and foetal stimulation Discovery on foetal stimulation with music via the vagina For the first time we know that foetuses hear from 16 weeks (11 centimetres) and that sounds from outside reach them as distorted whispers. We have discovered the formula for them to hear as we do, so

Read more »

What does music do to the brain?

What does music do to the brain? The brain and music The nucleus accumbens is formed by a group of brain neurons whose stimulation produces dopamine, a substance that makes us feel wellbeing. The nucleus accumbens is the centre where we experience the sensation of reward and it is also the pleasure centre;

Read more »

The music

The music Why music? Music is a creation, a human invention, we live with it daily; where does it come from? Why did we invent it? On the origin of music and its effects in humans, there are different theories and contributions, based on scientific studies, all very interesting and holding different

Read more »


From when can the foetus hear?

We know that the inner ear is fully developed at week 16 of gestation, but until now medical literature could only confirm a functioning auditory system from week 26. This research study shows for the first time that the fetus begins hearing at week 16.

What is heard in the womb?

The fetus receives sounds from inside the mother's body, such as her heartbeat, breathing and intestinal activity. It also perceives sounds the mother makes, such as when she is speaking or walking with high heels, in addition to other external sounds.

The fetus is well-protected from noise. The fact that it is living in a soundproof environment means that perceived sounds are distorted, as has been shown in research done on sheep using intrauterine microphones. According to this research, the majority of sounds are perceived as whispers (around 30 decibels), while the motherís voice during normal conversation (60 decibels) is barely discerned at all (24 decibels).

And, as most sounds are repetitive, the fetus becomes accustomed to them and does not react. They do not prevent the fetus from sleeping.

We could say that the sounds heard in utero are like the background rustles heard in a forest.

Is it possible for babies to perceive sounds as we do?

It is only possible through a single route, the vaginal route.

The vagina is a closed space, so sound is not dispersed into the environment. In addition, there are fewer layers of soft tissue separating the baby from the sound source, only the vaginal and uterine walls. By placing a speaker in the vagina, the barrier of the abdominal wall is removed and the baby can hear the sounds almost as loudly and clearly as they are emitted.

How do foetuses respond to vaginally delivered music?

Before the scan, the pregnant patient inserted the intravaginal device designed for the study, which emits an average sound intensity of 54 decibels (equivalent to a conversation in low voices or background music).

87% of fetuses reacted with non-specific head and limb movements, accompanied by specific mouth and tongue movements which stopped when the music stopped. Likewise, with intravaginal music, nearly 50% of fetuses reacted with a striking movement, opening their jaw very wide and sticking out their tongue as far as it would go.

How do foetuses respond to music emitted from the abdomen?

A set of headphones which emitted music with an average intensity of 98.6 decibels (equivalent to an ambulance siren or music in a nightclub) were placed on the pregnant womanís abdomen.

No changes were observed in fetal facial expression during this part of the study.

Why is the response of the foetus different every time it listens to music?

As we are looking at a response and not simply a reflex, the reaction of the fetus depends on multiple factors, which is why it is different each time. It varies depending on the neuronal activity of the brain stem at that particular moment, which means that the response could depend on the sleep phase the fetus is in or blood sugar levels. For example, when we sing to a baby, the response differs depending on whether the child is hungry, thirsty or sleepy.