Music is universal and found in all cultures. Some have suggested that it is at the very essence of humanity, like language, distinguishing us from other species. Some have argued that music exemplifies many of the classic criteria for a complex human evolutionary adaptation, with evidence for the existence of music tens of thousands of years ago. […]

At the individual level music can be a vehicle for emotional expression. Ideas and emotions that might be difficult to convey in ordinary verbal interchanges – love, jealousy, grief – can be expressed through music. Music elicits physical responses, aiding relaxation or stimulating activity, and is particularly effective in changing our moods. Involvement in music provides opportunities for individuals to experience aesthetic enjoyment and be entertained.

At the group level music can be viewed as a means of communication. Music can serve to provide shared experiences and understandings that help to bind together social groups and shape their identity. […]

In society as a whole, music provides a means of symbolic representation for ideas and behaviours – whether the state, patriotism, religion, bravery, heroism, or rebellion. Music also contributes towards the continuity and stability of culture and perhaps most importantly to the integration of society. […]