The deeper you look, the more amazing every aspect of God’s creation appears. Take His magnificent creation of music, for example.
God created the physical universe and the human ear and mind to make music possible.
He didn’t have to—music isn’t required for us to live day to day. But God wanted us to be able to enjoy music. And so He created music, with all the incredible and elegant science and math behind it. Even if we don’t realize it, math and science are behind the way we sense and respond to music.
Music and the brain
Music is truly a magnificent creation! In his Scientific American article titled “Music and the Brain,” Norman M. Weinberger wrote, “All known societies throughout the world have had music. Indeed, our appreciation appears to be innate. Infants as young as two months will turn toward consonant, or pleasant, sounds and away from dissonant ones.”
Consider just some of the math and science behind what sounds pleasant and what doesn’t. The same article gave this example:
“Consonant musical intervals are generally those for which a simple ratio of frequencies exists between two tones. An example is middle C (about 260 hertz . . .) and middle G (about 390 [hertz]). Their ratio is 2:3, forming a pleasant-sounding perfect fifth interval when they are played simultaneously. In contrast, middle C and C sharp (about 277 [hertz]) have a complex ratio of about 17:18 and are considered unpleasant, having a rough sound.”
God created us to enjoy music. The Scientific American article also said:
“The ear has the fewest sensory cells of any sensory organ—3,500 inner hair cells occupy the ear versus 100 million photoreceptors in the eye. Yet our mental response to music is remarkably adaptable; even a little study can retune the way the brain handles musical inputs.”
Basically, he makes the point that trained musicians have hyperdevelopment of some areas of the brain. But trained musicians are not the only ones affected by music. All of us can have an emotional response to music.
Researchers have found many amazing benefits of music. God created music to benefit our minds and bodies and our social interactions.The article also reported on a 1997 study by Carol L. Krumhansl of Cornell University: “She and her co-workers recorded heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and other physiological measures during the presentation of various pieces that were considered to express happiness, sadness, fear or tension. Each type of music elicited a different but consistent pattern of physiological change across subjects.”
The article notes that “the same kinds of pleasure centers light up in a person’s brain whether he or she is getting chills listening to a symphony’s denouement or eating chocolate or having sex.”
The power of music
Think of the power of music in movies, for example. What if you watched a movie with just voices and sound effects, but no music? I think the movie would lose a lot of its emotional power.
John Williams is perhaps the best-known living composer. He’s won five Oscars and had 52 Academy Award nominations. (Only Walt Disney has had more.) But more than that, AP News noted, “A billion people might be able to instantly hum Williams’ two-note ostinato from ‘Jaws’ or ‘The Imperial March’ from ‘Star Wars.’”
John Williams’ music spans everything from Superman to Schindler’s List, from Indiana Jones to Jurassic Park. We’ll look at a few quotes from this creative composer later in the article.
Benefits of music
Music is magnificent, and it can even be medicinal.
Researchers have found many amazing benefits of music. God created music to benefit our minds and bodies and our social interactions. Music is magnificent not just because of the math behind it, but because of the positive effects it can have on our physical and mental health. Consider these benefits listed in a Healthline article:
“Doctors at Johns Hopkins recommend that you listen to music to stimulate your brain . . .
“Music also has a positive effect on your ability to memorize . . .
“Mayo Clinic points out that while music doesn’t reverse the memory loss experienced by people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, music has been found to slow cognitive decline, helping people with mild or moderate dementia remember episodes from their lives.”
The article gave evidence that listening to music can:
- Calm you.
- Improve your heart health.
- Decrease fatigue.
- Boost exercise performance.
- Help manage pain.
The article concludes with this summary:
“Music exerts a powerful influence on human beings. It can boost memory, build task endurance, lighten your mood, reduce anxiety and depression, stave off fatigue, improve your response to pain, and help you work out more effectively.”
So we see that music is a magnificent gift from God with many benefits.
With all of these amazing things about music in mind, let’s use the mnemonic device M-U-S-I-C to represent five aspects of music—aspects we can enjoy and appreciate and thank God for.
M is for magnificent
M is for magnificent, which summarizes many other M words. Music is a magnificent creation of God, with amazing intricacy and wonderful benefits.
You could also say M is for math. The rhythm in music teaches us fractions, and the notes and chords are ratios. Music education is a foundational part of education.
In a way you could say that music is coded with beautiful math. And if we look a little deeper, we see that underlying all of creation, all the wonders God has made in the physical universe, is more elegant math, both simple and amazingly complex!
And there are more M words that you could use:
Music is memorable—and it can help our memories. Think of all the songs that help us memorize things like the alphabet, the books of the Bible or dozens of other things.
Also, music is like medicine—it has health benefits for mind and body.
So, what ties all these things together? I summarize it with: Music is magnificent! I think it points us back to the awesome Creator God who gave us this magnificent gift!
U is for unifying
The U is for unifying. Musicians are taught to follow the leader so each can play his or her part in a way that blends with everyone else. The whole soundscape produced by an orchestra or band or choir is much more than the sum of its parts.
So, U reminds us all to follow the spiritual leader and to play and work in unity.
S is for shareable
The S is for shareable. Music has an emotional component that allows us to convey feelings in a deeper way than we can with words alone. Think of the power of movie theme music to convey fear, loss, romance, celebration, despair or excitement.
So S reminds us to share with our brethren in times of celebration and feasting, as well as in times of sorrow and mourning. Music enhances sympathy, whether in celebration or sadness. S is for sharing.
I is for inspirational
The I in MUSIC is for inspirational. I believe God can inspire composers and musicians to produce beautiful and meaningful music. God then uses that music to inspire and motivate us—to help us rise above the challenges and the mundane issues of life.
So I is for inspirational.
C is for creative
And last, the C is for creative. God could have made the universe so that there would be only one song—a perfect song, so we wouldn’t need anything else. But God loves variety and loves creativity. Several times in the Bible we find the exciting call to sing a new song!
Creativity is about more than flashes of brilliance—there’s hard work involved. Consider what Star Wars composer John Williams, one of the most creative composers today, told AP News shortly after he turned 90 in 2022:
“Simple little themes that speak clearly and without obfuscation are very hard to find and very hard to do . . . They really are the result of a lot of work. It’s almost like chiseling. Move one note, change a rhythmic emphasis or the direction of an interval and so on. A simple tune can be done in dozens of ways. If you find one that [works], it seems like you discovered something that wanted to be uncovered.”
A decade before, when he was 80, John Williams told NPR that it took him two to three months on average to compose a film score.
“These days, I probably will get as much as a minute done or a minute and a half done in a day . . . I’m happy to be busy . . . I’m happy to have a wonderful family. And I think also, especially for practicing musicians, age is not so much of a concern because a lifetime is just simply not long enough for the study of music anyway. You’re never anywhere near finished.”
He told AP News, “I’d love to be around in 100 years to see what people are doing with film and sound and spatial, aural and visual effects. It has a tremendous future, I think,” says Williams. “I can sense great possibility and great future in the atmospherics of the whole experience. I’d love to come back and see and hear it all.”
I don’t think things will develop in exactly the way John Williams might have imagined, but I echo the thought that music has an incredible future. There are creative horizons we haven’t yet even imagined! What will the music of God’s future Kingdom be like? I don’t really know, but I know it will tap the amazing creativity God has put within humanity.
So C is a call for creativity, for the composers of new songs. Who will write the music of the Millennium? Could it be some of you reading this article?
Magnificent, Unifying, Shareable, Inspirational and Creative. Remember to thank God for music and to enjoy its many benefits—now and on into the future!