Nobody is sure where or when exactly music originated, or, indeed why it began. One theory put forward is that it might have originated in mothers humming or singing to infants to comfort them and let them know she was nearby.
Journal articles have been published theorising that the ways in which certain types of music affects us is universal and overcomes cultural differences. Some studies have shown that listening to and playing music can reduce cortisol – the stress hormone. There’s also a great deal of research about how music impacts athletic performance. Athletes seem to be able to run faster, lift heavier, and improve endurance levels all because of music, although it has been noted that there aren’t “perfect tracks.” People have different reactions to songs based on sociocultural backgrounds and musical tastes, along with the type and intensity of activity being done.
This all seems to show that music is one of the great influencers of mood generally available. There’s even a term – “Neuromusicology” for how music affects the nervous system. Some tunes might bring your mood up, while you might turn to other pieces of music when you’re in the mood to wallow. Occasionally, you might just want to dance like there’s nobody watching.
Bearing all of this in mind, it seems like a useful thing to try might be setting yourself a playlist of songs that have a particular effect for you. Not even just one – there could be playlists for all occasions. Feeling nostalgic? Some tunes that remind you of some favourite times in your life could be just the thing. Feeling down? Program in some tunes that you’ve found to lift your mood in the past. The range of music out there means that there’s probably a piece of music to fit however you’re feeling in that moment, or to help change your mood to something different.
I’ll probably let a wise old wizard sum everything up for me – as Professor Dumbledore once said – “Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!”