Music has always been part of human life but has evolved in many ways. It all started in the prehistoric era when the human voice was probably the most used musical instrument. The variety of sounds that a voice can produce would, probably, entertain the prehistoric tribes that lived on Earth.

Throughout the ages, music has been influenced by cultural, socioeconomic, religious and technological changes. It is clear now that music has gone through a massive evolution.

Music offers pleasure to the ones who hear it and people feel some connection to a specific genre, or even to a singer. Psychologists argue that, in some cases, music can perform the role of a friend or therapist when people are going through an overwhelming situation like depression, for example.

Hugo Gomes, 21, dedicates most of his time listening to music. The student does not “have a favourite music genre” he listens to almost every genre, except “Reggaeton and Brazilian funk.” In Hugo’s stance, music is “a portal to another world.” He listens to music “at least five hours a day”, from the moment he wakes up until he goes to sleep. Hugo rarely enjoys a moment of total silence, because “whether in the bath or while cooking, music has to be there, almost like a mandatory request.” Hugo reveals that there exists a soundtrack for each phase of his life. “All the phases of my life have a song, artist or band that remind me of the good and bad moments that I lived at that time.” Music has been a support for Hugo and sometimes taken on the role of a friend or therapist,

Sofia Gonçalves, 19, believes that music can assume the role of a friend or therapist “involuntarily.” The artists “write lyrics in a way that listeners find relatable, whether by the feelings that are being transmitted or by agreeing with what is being sung.” For her, this relationship between the listener and lyrics may also create a connection between the artist and the fan, “due to the shared feelings. The listeners will try to listen to more songs, while the artist will write down the feeling because he feels that he is helping other people.” Just like Hugo, Sofia “defines moments of [her] life with specific songs.”

Maria Saraiva and Inês Ribeiro were also interviewed and both mentioned that in certain moments of their life there is a song associated with it. It feels like most people like to connect a specific song with a moment.

Psychology master degree student Beatriz Valério explains that this phenomenon is explained because people tend to listen to music that is relatable to “personal experiences”. She believes that the preferences for a certain musical genre are “defined essentially by the life story of each person.” The student adds that music can be used as an “escape” from the real world.

Music has been used for therapy of people that suffer from anxiety, for example. Although “it may not be recognised worldwide as a therapy” music is used “mainly to help children and adults with critical cognitive deficit.” In some cases, the therapist asks the patient to choose a song “that can define the patient state of spirit.”

Sometimes stereotypes are attributed to people who listen to a certain genre of music. It is common to hear that metal listeners are usually the ones that wear black, for example. According to Beatriz “we choose to listen to a certain type of music regarding what is being felt at the moment. Happy emotions will make people listen to happy music.” When asked if music can shape the identity of a person, Beatriz considers that “it will depend on the listener, since they can adapt their lifestyle according to what music they hear.”

Maria Saraiva, 20, admits that music had influenced her “in the will to study music in university.” Music helped her to know what kind of artist she wanted to be.

Some artists can make people go wild. The Beatles stopped live shows because of their rowdy performances, full of screaming fans that made the band unable to hear what they were singing. Nowadays the same happens, fans that faint once they see their artist, crazy fans that have mental behaviours such as sending body parts to their favourite singer. Beatriz Valério explains that fans might feel connected to an artist because of “similar past experiences or because the fan wants to have the life that the artist has.” The psychology student adds that “This kind of identification when controlled can improve the life of the fan, but in some cases it can be obsessive.” The fact that people look at a singer as an idol happens unconsciously, probably as the result of some “negative experience.”

The idea is corroborated by Inês Ribeiro who admits to being a fan of artists such as Ariana Grande, Mariah Carey and Bruno Mars, because they don’t only integrate her musical taste, but also function like a soundtrack for the moments she is living while hearing their music. Inês says that “every lyric and melody has the power to connect with individual’s state of mind or to current life experiences.”

Some songwriters share messages of courage in their music, with lyrics probably being one of the most important features on a song, but there are other criteria that listeners follow. Sofia Gonçalves mentions that the most important feature in a song is “the singer’s voice.” But she goes further and states that “having a good voice is enough for those who do not understand music as a full package and it may result in some injustices.” Sofia feels attracted to an artist that besides being a good singer can write and produce his songs. “It is about giving the right value to the artist’s work.”

Maria mentions that the songs she is more captivated by are the ones that have meaningful lyrics which share feelings and real messages. She likes to know that “behind a song, there were plenty of hours spent working on the song.”

Music has always been an important means for communicating, spreading messages and can even be connected with important historical moments. In Portugal, for example, Zeca Afonso and Paulo Carvalho songs were used as signs for the soldiers to know that they could begin the revolution that came to end the fascist regime in the country.

The way of listening to music has also changed. In the past radio was the biggest music streamer or people would listen to music on record players, for example. The times have changed and artists started to record and sell their songs recorded on tape and later on CD. The MP3 format was found and the market of piracy blew up and the music business felt that. People would download their favourite songs for free and record it onto an blank CD or listen in an MP3 reader device. The music industry had to avoid the situation of piracy and managed to create audio streaming platforms such as Spotify. Since CD are not used as much as before, people can now listen to music more fairly.

In Portugal, people went more to concerts and music festivals when comparing to other cultural activities. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in 2018, 45,3 percent of people that attended any cultural activity went to a live concert.

People in general look for music, whether to make a party better or just to create a cosy atmosphere in the workplace. Much has been made in the musical industry and there is still much more to achieve.