Whether it’s spoken, signed or written, language is a human universal. Did you know the music is not far behind? There are very few cultures (if any) in the world that do not have music of some sort. Music and language have closer links than just being something we all do, though. Let’s take a look at five interesting things you might not know music and language had in common.
Both are forms of social bonding
Music has traditionally been associated with bringing people together. Whether it’s through a shared emotional experience, appreciation of an art form, or as part of a ceremony or ritual, music is usually a group activity. Language is the same — most people don’t speak to themselves, it takes two or more people to communicate.
Musicians process music as language
Studies have shown the same area of the brain is active with musicians listening to music and listening to language. The area is called the left planum temporale and is generally thought to be where we process language. Interestingly, when non-musicians listen to music, they do not process it in the same area as language. This suggests that while we can all process language in a similar way, it takes practice to process music on a deeper level.
People remember music in the same way as speech
Think about a memorable voice, someone close to you. You tell that voice apart from someone else even if they were saying the same words, right? The same is the case for music. Even without words, we can tell the difference between different people playing the same piece of music. The way our brain processes language and music is more than simply recognising words or notes, it’s highly complex and uses similar areas of the brain again.
Music helps your grammar and vocabulary
In a study in 2010, it was shown that people who studied music before the age of seven developed larger vocabularies and a better understanding of grammar than those who didn’t. It’s also commonly thought that those who learn a musical instrument at a young age find it easier to learn second languages later in life.
Music and language keep your brain fit
There have been many studies into the links between learning music or a second language and a lower risk of dementia in old age. So, if you want to keep your brain healthy, learning music or a second language might help.
So, those are my five links between music and language. Can you think of any more? Share your musical or language experiences in the comments below.