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10 Amazing Ways Music Affects the World

by Gregory Myers
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

We all love music, and we all know that it affects us emotionally. Music has been a primary form of entertainment for as long as humans have history, but it has been even more than that. Music has been used throughout history to tell stories, preserve history, and in all sorts of other rituals and practices. Apart from just entertainment, music can do many other amazing things as well.

Let’s look into 10 amazing ways music affects the world.

Related: Top 10 Inventions That Changed The World

10 The Didgeridoo & Sleep Apnea

Didgeridoo Sleep Apnea Therapy: How It Works

The didgeridoo is well known for being an ancient Australian Aboriginal instrument. While they were traditionally made from wood that had already been hollowed out by termites, today, they are commercially made by using all kinds of wood and have gained huge popularity all over the world. The Aboriginals used the didgeridoo in order to make sound effects, mostly of animals, to use in their storytelling rituals by the fireside.

However, the Aboriginals may not have realized that the instrument they perfected is also great for helping those with sleep apnea, like moderate obstructive sleep apnea. This illness can cause people to snore very loudly and wake up in the middle of the night from improper or halted breathing. It can even be fatal. A study found that by teaching people circular breathing and having them regularly use the didgeridoo with this technique, they could manage their sleep apnea. However, this is something that is not going to work if you don’t keep it up or lack discipline. The study found that those who truly had fantastic results were practicing for about 25 minutes a day, six days a week.[1]

9 A Great Way to Remember Complex Things

The Periodic Table Song with real elements

Music is something we all know and love, even if we all have very different tastes. It has evolved along with human culture for entertainment and storytelling for as long as most anthropologists can imagine. For that reason, it has come to affect our brains in a unique way. It turns out that due to our long history with music, our brains have evolved to have their own neural pathways just for processing music and remembering songs.

This means that if we use music properly, we can utilize it as a tool to remember complex bits of information without the more rote techniques that may never give us the edge we really need. We are already all aware of one way to do this, as most people learn an alphabet song of some kind even if English is not their first language, as many languages have one. However, even more importantly, as you start to learn chemistry in school, the periodic table of elements can be quite daunting. Fortunately, there is a song that makes the whole thing fun to learn and easy to remember.[2]

8 Karaoke of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” Has Caused Murders

Karaoke can get you killed in the Philippines

At Burger King, you can have it your way. However, if you live in the Philippines and you are at a karaoke club, you actually cannot have it your way at all. That is if you want to sing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” which has been banned in clubs in the Philippines after several violent incidents where people who sang the song or others involved in altercations over it were murdered right there at the bar.

The most likely reason why it causes violence and has gotten itself banned from karaoke bars and parties is because, in the Philippines, it is an incredibly popular, remade, and covered song. This means that, basically, everyone has a really strong opinion about how it should sound and is really invested in it emotionally. Much of the violence is likely because critics tend to be very openly rude about what they think are bad renditions. Then, the singers tend to lash out back in the same manner. Considering this, it is probably best if the song remains banned.[3]

7 Your Cat Likes Music, But Only the Right Kind of Music

Scientists Create Music for Cats!

If you’ve ever had a cat, you know that they are known for being some of the hardest to train and most contrary and independent creatures. In fact, this is so well known about them that you probably know this even if you have never met a cat. Since cats often tend to behave indifferently to things and can often be hard to please, scientists have been curious for some time if they like music. And if so, what kind of music they like. Many animal shelters for years have played classical music in the hopes it will calm them down, but little research has ever shown any reason to believe this.

New research shows that the type of music cats really like is music that is made just for their furry little highnesses. We make music based on our heart rhythms, our sense of hearing, and all our other senses. However, the problem is that cats have an entirely different sensory package from us—and a different heart rate and everything. Now, while cats are often spoiled, this research suggests that it isn’t just cats who are like this, but probably most or all animals.[4]

6 Earworms: Helping Our Brains to Remember a Pattern

Why Is That Song Stuck in My Head?!

Everyone has gotten an earworm at some point or another, and it can be really, really annoying. Sometimes the song that gets stuck in our head is something we like, but even that gets old fast when it won’t go away. If it is one we don’t like, that is even worse and can make our day hell as we try to excise the thing from our brain. More frustratingly, the way our brains work, if we purposely try not to think of something, we often tend to think of it even more.

Fortunately, there is hope. The reason that earworms get stuck in our brains is because we are trying to piece together the entire pattern of the song. Our brains have evolved over the years to be good at remembering music, and our brains find it frustrating when we cannot remember all of an entire sequence. Your brain is continuing to go over it mainly because it keeps skipping past parts—you have probably noticed you don’t get an earworm if you can remember all the words. For this reason, the best way to get rid of an earworm is to go over the entire song to at least temporarily satisfy your brain.[5]

5 The Ocarina of Time Made Ocarina Sales Skyrocket

How Creative Limitations Shaped Ocarina of Time’s Best Music

Before the Ocarina of Time, the ocarina did exist, but it was not a particularly popular instrument. It had been made into a plastic instrument to be given cheaply to soldiers so they would have something to do. Still, since then, it has been known mostly as a plastic toy for children, much like a recorder. However, all that changed forever when Ocarina of Time, the game, was released for the Nintendo 64.

For its time, the N64 was using cutting-edge graphics, but it was also pushing those graphics to the very limit of what they could do. This meant they had to figure out some way to keep people busy while levels were loading; otherwise, there would be complaints about long wait times. Enter the games ocarina and the teleport songs, which gave you a loading sequence that hand waves what was happening behind the scenes. Since the game was released, there is now a huge market with ceramic, wood, metal, and multi-chambered ocarinas of all varieties. And, even two decades later, that market is still going strong.[6]

4 The Singing Revolution Freed Estonia from the Soviet Union

The Singing Revolution Explained

After World War II, the Iron Curtain fell hard across Eastern Europe, and half the continent was under the Russian shroud. This aftermath of WWII led to a lot of deprivation and misery in these countries. For this reason, as the Soviet Union started to weaken in the ’80s, a lot of countries that had been held under their thrall saw their chance to get their freedom back. However, even weakened, the Soviet Union was not going to just let these countries go easily, so they needed a strong way to come together and show their support for freedom.

It was also important to keep the protests as peaceful as possible, as the Soviet Union still had enough strength left for vengeance, even in its weakened state. Enter the singing revolution, which freed Estonia from the Soviets in an incredible historical fashion. Starting in the mid-1980s, the singing revolution was a massive set of peaceful protests that continued over the years in order to break Soviet influence. The importance of the singing cannot be overstated, as it brought everyone together, kept up their spirits, and reaffirmed their national identity at the most important moment. Due to these efforts, in 1991, Estonia regained its independence.[7]

3 Bird Song May Sometimes Seem Annoying, But It’s Good for Us

Is Bird Song Good for people? | The Positive Effect of Singing Birds

Some of us hear the birds in the morning and cannot help but feel annoyed. Perhaps they woke us up well before our alarms, or maybe we were just grumpy. The bottom line, though, is that while many people love bird song, there is also a pretty decent contingent who considers it nothing more than a ruiner of sleep, especially on a weekend.

However, listening to bird song is actually really good for us. It turns out that listening to bird song relaxes us and reduces our stress). Part of the reason for this is that bird song tends to make us feel safe, and of course, a sense of security tends to make everyone feel better. The pitch and frequency of bird song are good for your mood, and since birds tend to sing when they feel safe, this is reflected in how we feel about the music and how it makes us feel safe. This makes sense as happy birds singing gives humans the impression there are no dangerous predators or storms to worry about.[8]

9 You Actually Can Break Glass with Singing, But It Isn’t Easy

How to Break Glass with Your Voice – Hard Science

We all know of the old stereotype where someone, usually a fat woman who is good at singing opera, sings just the right note, and a glass shatters. Often, this is done unintentionally for laughs, as it shatters in someone’s face. In some cases, the singer even manages to shatter windows or many glasses at once, although this trope is rarer. Now, we actually don’t recommend this because it could be done, and someone could get hurt.

Glass shattering, while quite dangerous and not really very funny, is something that is quite possible to do if you can hit the right musical notes. The Mythbusters have even proven that it is possible, although it’s not exactly easy to do without practice and the right knowledge. However, shattering a bunch of glass windows would likely require a stronger sound amplifier or really weak windows that were already about to break anyway. Although it may be an interesting parlor trick, there is little reason to learn this as it has no practical use and is only likely to result in injury.[9]

1 Listening to Music and Singing Along Can Help Us Heal

How Music Can Heal the Brain

Now, before we get started, we are not saying music is magic or that you can avoid going to the doctor. If you have a medical problem, you should get it treated professionally by someone who knows what they are doing and has proper certification in your country. That being said, if you understand the power of music, you can use it to help you feel better and even to manage your pain, as long as you are realistic about what it can and cannot do.

Music has been proven to link with the emotional centers of our brain and help us reduce stress, depression, and anxiety when we listen to music we enjoy. The chemical reason for these good feelings we get from listening to our favorite music is likely the endorphins released during the event. However, while it may not take away all the need for pain meds, music can also be a tool for pain management, and not just anxiety or stress. By singing, playing, or humming along with music, we can increase our serotonin levels, which is what makes us happy. This can greatly help to give us strength—emotional and physical—and help with the healing process and managing pain.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen