May 15, 2018

A mother’s arms: the origin of intimate concerts

A mother’s arms: the origin of intimate concerts

Ilinca Cretu
HISTORY

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Call me crazy, but I think everyone has already been to a house concert.

Reading Ebba’s piece on the history of house concerts, made me wonder if this magical phenomenon, the intimate concert, could have started WAY before that. I might dare say that concerts are pre-lingual.

According to researchers at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), we sang before we spoke. They theorise that music preceded language, contrary to how the relationship was seen up to now – of music as a byproduct of language development.

In your mother’s arms

You still think you have not been to an intimate concert?

Let me remind you: the first intimate gig you’ve ever been to has been in your mother’s arms (or father’s, grandparent’s, carer’s).

Listening to her singing to you. And only you.

Yes, you have been to a ‘concert’ before you could speak, and you probably loved it.

As I have recently become a mother myself I can see the immediate soothing effects music has on my baby’s body. It’s simple: my baby calms down when I sing to him. The repetitiveness of songs provide a calming, almost hypnotising effect. I instantly get (and hold!) his attention when I sing. Magic!

"I sing about little socks going on little feet, I sing of heavy eyelids that go to sleep."


There are many true classic lullabies you can sing to your baby but I find myself improvising most of the time. I sing about little socks going on little feet, I sing of heavy eyelids that go to sleep. It doesn’t matter what I sing about as long as those vowels are stretched!

Feel connected

Studies have shown that singing to your baby strengthens your bond. I can testify. Oh! The intimacy that is created in the simple act of being sung to! I serenade my boy day and night, providing either entertainment or soothing calm.

This practice is not bound by any culture – mothers across the globe sing to their infants without having previously been instructed to do so. Why? It’s a balm for their tired little heads. It doesn’t cost anything. And it fosters a bond. A strong connection before language.

And feeling connected makes us feel good.

We don’t get to be sung to by our mothers for the entirety of our lives. It’s just a short phase in our babyhood/childhood, but one that primes us to love music for…ever. I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like music. Have you?

That’s right. Everyone listens to some form of music.

House concerts

We don’t only go to concerts for the artist – we also go to concerts for ourselves. We want to be sung to.  We want to feel connected to someone else as the vibrations flow through our bodies.

Music takes us back to a time in our lives where words did not matter as much – in a space where pure emotion is felt and understood without the need of words.

"House concerts tap into that same feeling of being sung to, of being the most important being in the world at that time."


As your eyes meet the musician’s, you get the feeling that song is for you.  You can do it at an intimate concert where you share the musician with only 30 others, but not at a concert where you get to see the musician the size of a peanut on a screen while you are trying to tune out your neighbour’s own rendition of the song.

The intimate concert feels warmer and nicer because of this connection they create between musician and audience, just like you listening to your mother once in your infancy. Naturally, being sung to by your mother is not like being sung to by a professional musician, but the intimacy of the act is very much applicable to almost any scenario where the singer has the undivided attention of an audience in an intimate setting.

While now I give ‘home concerts’ everyday (!), I cannot really go to a real one because of a little person attached to me.

But…Why don’t you re-live that delicious moment of being sung to and go to one?

Low-Fi has a bunch coming up…

Call me crazy, but I think everyone has already been to a house concert.

Reading Ebba’s piece on the history of house concerts, made me wonder if this magical phenomenon, the intimate concert, could have started WAY before that. I might dare say that concerts are pre-lingual.

According to researchers at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), we sang before we spoke. They theorise that music preceded language, contrary to how the relationship was seen up to now – of music as a byproduct of language development.

In your mother’s arms

You still think you have not been to an intimate concert?

Let me remind you: the first intimate gig you’ve ever been to has been in your mother’s arms (or father’s, grandparent’s, carer’s).

Listening to her singing to you. And only you.

Yes, you have been to a ‘concert’ before you could speak, and you probably loved it.

As I have recently become a mother myself I can see the immediate soothing effects music has on my baby’s body. It’s simple: my baby calms down when I sing to him. The repetitiveness of songs provide a calming, almost hypnotising effect. I instantly get (and hold!) his attention when I sing. Magic!

"I sing about little socks going on little feet, I sing of heavy eyelids that go to sleep."


There are many true classic lullabies you can sing to your baby but I find myself improvising most of the time. I sing about little socks going on little feet, I sing of heavy eyelids that go to sleep. It doesn’t matter what I sing about as long as those vowels are stretched!

Feel connected

Studies have shown that singing to your baby strengthens your bond. I can testify. Oh! The intimacy that is created in the simple act of being sung to! I serenade my boy day and night, providing either entertainment or soothing calm.

This practice is not bound by any culture – mothers across the globe sing to their infants without having previously been instructed to do so. Why? It’s a balm for their tired little heads. It doesn’t cost anything. And it fosters a bond. A strong connection before language.

And feeling connected makes us feel good.

We don’t get to be sung to by our mothers for the entirety of our lives. It’s just a short phase in our babyhood/childhood, but one that primes us to love music for…ever. I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like music. Have you?

That’s right. Everyone listens to some form of music.

House concerts

We don’t only go to concerts for the artist – we also go to concerts for ourselves. We want to be sung to.  We want to feel connected to someone else as the vibrations flow through our bodies.

Music takes us back to a time in our lives where words did not matter as much – in a space where pure emotion is felt and understood without the need of words.

"House concerts tap into that same feeling of being sung to, of being the most important being in the world at that time."


As your eyes meet the musician’s, you get the feeling that song is for you.  You can do it at an intimate concert where you share the musician with only 30 others, but not at a concert where you get to see the musician the size of a peanut on a screen while you are trying to tune out your neighbour’s own rendition of the song.

The intimate concert feels warmer and nicer because of this connection they create between musician and audience, just like you listening to your mother once in your infancy. Naturally, being sung to by your mother is not like being sung to by a professional musician, but the intimacy of the act is very much applicable to almost any scenario where the singer has the undivided attention of an audience in an intimate setting.

While now I give ‘home concerts’ everyday (!), I cannot really go to a real one because of a little person attached to me.

But…Why don’t you re-live that delicious moment of being sung to and go to one?

Low-Fi has a bunch coming up…

This is the Low-fi Backstage the place where a handful of music-afficionados hold up the microphone for music to sing at the top of its lungs.

This is the Low-fi Backstage the place where a handful of music-afficionados hold up the microphone for music to sing at the top of its lungs.

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