Music: humankind's first communication tool

One of my favorite authors on the topic of sound both as it relates to business and to our experience as humans in daily life is Julian Treasure, whose TED talks on conscious listening and how sound affects us have been watched many millions of times.

In his monumental book "Sound Business," written a decade ago, Treasure notes that "of all the types of sounds, music is the one we find most fascinating" (p. 84). He goes even further in this line of thinking by bringing up the research of archeologist Stephen Mithen, who asserts in The Singing Neanderthals that "music came before language." For Mithen, Treasure writes, "the advent of language sidelined music from its original role as our core communication vehicle. Language is processed by different areas of the brain, and these have become dominant as we have concentrated exclusively on lingual communication, leaving music as a powerful tool that we now use without really understanding" (p. 85 - emphasis mine).

How totally and completely fascinating is this? If we take this at face value, prior to being something to entertain us, music was our fundamental tool of communication! How – or why – then do we then accept that it can and/or should be pushed to the background of our sensory experience, most especially in those moments of life on which we spend many thousands of dollars and many hours of planning? Doesn't doing so go against our natural sensory tendencies, tendencies that are as old as our very species?

This is certainly not to say that at every moment in life should we have music available or even that when there is music in a room or for an occasion that it must be our central focus. It is to say, however, that we must regift to music the power of our attention and award it the possibility of truly moving us and communicating to, with, and through us.

We at Five Senses Tastings hope that this comes through in our work and that our events over this Valentine's Day weekend were more meaningful as a result. We hope that those who heard and experienced our music tastings left with an expanded appreciation of the power of music – of sound – to influence our perception of our other senses, and generally to heighten our sensory experiences of a given moment in time.