I was pondering the question "Why do humans make music?" and on an intuitive level, my answer was "because of the feelings it evokes of course!"

But I then wondered, what about songbirds? Does a songbird have a feeling that compels it to make songs? I know there are plenty of instances of birds dancing and singing (at least, some call it that), but what motives does a songbird have to make birdsong? How does this compare to the emotions and motives humans feel?


Why do bird sing?

The main reason, male bird sing to attract mates (often, only males sing). Birds may also sing to communicate to their peers. For example a song can mean "This is my territory, you'd better not approach!". There are other reasons birds can sing (although I think I cited the two most important ones); you'll find much more information if you just google why do birds sing?, there are plenty of very accessible online articles on the subject. Here is one such article that you may like reading

Talking about emotions is always difficult due to the absence of a good definition of what an emotion is. But anyway... yes, if females are attracted to the mates that sing well, it probably (depending on your definition) means it cause them to feel some emotions (sexual excitement for example).

Evolution of music in birds and humans

Bird song to attract mate (sexual selection). Humans, on the other hand, have evolved music production for different reasons (or at least this is what we think). The field of evolutionary musicology is a field in the junction between evolutionary psychology and biomusicology. In evolutionary musicology (and in evolutionary psychology) empirical testing is very complicated and therefore, today we can only think and make hypotheses but we can't test them. So always take with a grain of salt what you read in those fields.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 As a side note, like AliceD you are good at formatting. I'd give an extra +1 for style if I could. I also did not know biomusicology was a thing! Very interesting. I will have to read my songbird books and consider what you say about emotions. Maybe I should look more carefully at how they define the term. $\endgroup$ – Stan Shunpike Aug 11 '15 at 22:25

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