Our brains are wired for music

Published 6:50 pm Saturday, February 24, 2018

By Karen Y. Stevens

There are no societies known today, nor are there any from the past, that did not have cultural practices, that could be categorized as music.

According to psychologist, music has been found to have many effects on the brain. It increases neural activity, and can often bring an intense pleasurable response.

Two to three-day old babies have been found to detect the beat in music, and if you bounce a seven-month old, she/he will prefer listening to a rhythm that is in sync with the bouncing, as opposed to one that isn’t.

There are instances of many other people who have lost language capabilities, who are still able to make music.  There are auditory circuits used in the perception of music, that are not used for speech recognition, or for other kinds of sounds.

Mel Tillis is a notable example. He stuttered in speech, but sang without a hitch.

Often found in autistic individuals, savants may display an extremely high-level of achievement in music, while being of below- average intelligence, without linguistic skills.

The most famous musical savant in history was probably “Blind Tom,” an American slave who, although he had a vocabulary of fewer than 100 words, had a musical repertoire of over 7,000 pieces, including classical music, popular songs, hymns, etc.  Exhibited as a “freak,” Blind Tom earned more than today’s equivalent of $1.5 million a year.

What does all this have to do with God?

When “all the men of Israel assembled” with King Solomon to celebrate the Ark of the Covenant’s arrival at the completed Temple (2 Chron. 5:3), we are told that in addition to the feast, and many physical sacrifices made to honor God, music was played.

God’s response was so profound that the Temple was “filled with a cloud,” which represented His approval. Think about this for a moment. Even the all-powerful Creator, responded to music, when it was used to glorify Him.

In Job 38:7 is when the angels “shouted for joy” and “sang together” in unison when they first saw the earth’s foundations laid.

Since they understood God’s purpose for music, this was how the angels expressed their joy, awe and thankfulness for God’s creation.

Expressing our gratitude to our Maker through music is so important to God, that it is commanded.

Two examples are in Psalms; Oh, sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. (Psalm 96:1-2).

Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! (Psalm 47:6).

Paul reminded the congregation to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”.

The creation of music was intended by God, to be a powerful and positive tool, that He actually hard-wired in us.

Learn from the good examples in the Bible, and make music by praising God, a bigger part of your life!


Karen Y. Stevens is founder of Orange County Christian Writers Guild