Charles Darwin, the renowned naturalist and biologist, is well-known for his contributions to the theory of evolution. However, what is often overlooked is his interest in music and the role it plays in human evolution. In this article, we will explore Charles Darwin’s theory about music and its significance.

The Evolution of Music

Darwin believed that music has evolved just like any other trait in living organisms. He argued that music has survival value and is not simply a byproduct of human culture.

According to Darwin, music was first used as a means of communication among early humans. He believed that humans used vocalizations to convey messages such as warning signals or mating calls.

The Importance of Rhythm

Darwin also believed that rhythm played a crucial role in the evolution of music. He argued that rhythm evolved from the earliest forms of communication among humans. The ability to keep a steady beat allowed early humans to synchronize their movements during activities such as hunting or dancing.

Fun Fact: In his book “The Descent of Man,” Darwin wrote about how he observed that his infant son could recognize and keep time with simple rhythms before he could speak.

The Emotional Impact of Music

Darwin also recognized the emotional impact that music can have on humans. He argued that certain musical elements such as melody and harmony can evoke specific emotions in listeners. For example, a minor key can evoke feelings of sadness or melancholy while a major key can convey happiness or excitement.

Interesting Fact: In 1877, Darwin conducted an experiment where he played different types of music to his cousin Emma Wedgwood and observed her emotional reactions to each piece.


In summary, Charles Darwin’s theory about music suggests that it evolved from early forms of communication among humans and has survival value. He also recognized the importance of rhythm and the emotional impact that music can have on listeners. While his theory may not be widely accepted today, it highlights the significance of music in human evolution and its impact on our emotions and communication.