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.

What does music in the human brain?

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; pleasure that can arise from the consumption of food, sex, drugs and other addictions, as well as listening to music.

Melodies affect the brain, causing emotional responses. The music is an intellectual reward. When listening to a song, a neurological activity involving several parts of the brain is generated.

Dr. Lopez-Teijón proposes that music in its role of means of communication has been replaced by others -telephone, writing, email, etc. – and stresses that now we solely use music as an inductor element of pleasure, as culture and art, and not as a way to communicate.

Based on these data and the benefits of music for people, Institut Marquès started working on the idea of bringing music to unborn babies and to study and evaluate its effects on them. Given the complex process of development of the foetus (neuronal, auditory, etc.) and the surrounding environment, the project proved to be a challenge but, thanks to the teamwork of Institut Marques and Music in Baby, we have developed a unique and safe device to allow babies to enjoy music from before birth.

Does the fetus respond in the same way to all types of music?

Following the study using Bachís music for flute, Institut Marquès is continuing research with other types of music and sounds, with results that vary widely.

At this moment we are analysing the response by the percentage of fetuses that move their mouth and tongue, and those who specifically stick out their tongue in response to each type of music.

We have tried many different types of music throughout the study, updating the results weekly, and we continue to look into which rhythms and melodies are the most stimulating and why.

Universal Music has been collaborating with our research group in R&D&I, and has permitted us to use their files. In connection with this, the companyís collaborators have suggested sounds and segmented the fragments from which we have obtained more results in order to analyse the specific characteristics of these melodies.

In this graph you can see some of the results and listen to the fragment of music:


Serenade K525, Mozart

91% 73%
Christmas song

Campana sobre campana

91% 30%

Bohemia Rhapsody, Queen

90% 40%
Miguel Poveda

Embrujao por tu querer, Mozart

90% 20%
Flauta Bach

Solo BWV1030, Bach

87% 47%
Village people


90% 10%

Pedro y Lobo Op.67

88% 10%
Tradicional JAP


84% 46%
82% 9%
Piano Mozart

Sonata K448, Mozart

80% 20%

African music

78% 11%
Emiliano Tosso


75% 35%

Sinfonia nº 9, Himno de la Alegría

72% 27%

Dragostea Din Tei

70% 20%

Marcha Radetzky, Strauss

70% 10%
Richard Clayderman


60% 30%
Adele (a capella)

Someone like you, Adele

60% 20%

Fiesta Criolla, Carlos Santana

60% 10%
Bee Gees

Too much heaven

59% 0%

Vicente Fernández, El Rey

55% 5%
Singing of
54% 8%

Gavina voladora, Marina Rossell

50% 17%

Concierto de Aranjuez, Joaquín Rodrigo

50% 10%

Waka waka

50% 8%

Concierto RV359, Vivaldi

50% 20%

Santo Domingo de Silos

50% 6%
Mickey Mouse Voice
76% 17%
Human voice
60% 0%

The fetus reacts differently depending on the fragment of music.
The K 525 Serenade of Mozart induces mouth-tongue movements in 91% of fetuses and protrusion of the tongue in 73% of fetuses over 6 months. However, the Sonata K448 for piano by Mozart induces less response (80% and 20% respectively).

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