Tag Archives: Popular music

Explaining the Science of Music

“Pop” Music.

The “Pop” is short for popular.  & that is further defined by your age group & sheer numbers.  So, what makes a song “popular”?  This is where the science comes in.

Music is a visceral part of the human condition.  From the moment a Neanderthal picked up a bone & began beating it rhythmically on a log, music became a form of communication that transcends all others.   When mass communication became possible via the radio, the people in charge of programing began to supply music & performing artists to a huge audience.  The folks at home, sitting in front of their radios, listened to those lucky enough to get on the radio & it made those performers rich & famous.  Stars were born.

Like the smell of cookies instantly transports you to childhood, music is inexorably linked with emotional aspects in our lives.  For a long time, the war years defined the music of the moment.  World War II, the Korean War & the War in Vietnam all had their own musical messages of comradeship, fear, loss, support or anger.  It stirred up memories & experiences of turbulent times.

Most everyone develops their musical taste growing up.   Usually, youngsters begin going to dances at school when they become adolescents.  Talk about turbulent times!  Love, hate, fitting in, being different, no one understanding you:  these are all the elements of songs that speak to young people.  “He/She knows me!  They know how I feel!”  is a common reason you follow a particular song writer.

You grow older & start dating.  The songs become more important as the backdrop to social interactions.  You meet the right person, you fall in love, you get married, all to the songs being played in the clubs, at the parties you go to, the concerts you attend, on the radio or television.  You start a family.  For most people, your musical taste has been formed.  Other more pressing things consume your time & energy.  But hearing “the old songs” transports you back to a time when you danced, laughed, loved or cried.  To when you were young.

This is what music is all about.  It joins us together, regardless of geography, culture, religion or race.  It can incite, anger, inspire, sadden but at it’s best, bring joy.  Music endures as the canvas of our past, present & future to be shared by all.  Even the cold logic of Science has to love that.