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Animal Research


The following information is in reference to Chapter 11, page 154 of The Power Of Sound.


The Effect of Music on Animals: Research of Note

The following abstracts, printed in full form, address the effects of music on animals.


Affective responses in tamarins elicited by species-specific music. Theories of music evolution agree that human music has an affective influence on listeners. Tests of non-humans provided little evidence of preferences for human music. However, prosodic features of speech (‘motherese’) influence affective behaviour of non-verbal infants as well as domestic animals, suggesting that features of music can influence the behaviour of non-human species. We incorporated acoustical characteristics of tamarin affiliation vocalizations and tamarin threat vocalizations into corresponding pieces of music. We compared music composed for tamarins with that composed for humans. Tamarins were generally indifferent to playbacks of human music, but responded with increased arousal to tamarin threat vocalization based music, and with decreased activity and increased calm behaviour to tamarin affective vocalization based music. Affective components in human music may have evolutionary origins in the structure of calls of non-human animals. In addition, animal signals may have evolved to manage the behaviour of listeners by influencing their affective state.18

Species-specific music. In 2005-06, Washington D.C. classical musician David Teie developed and outlined a comprehensive theory that attempts to explain the cognitive processes involved in appreciation of music. Working with Charles T. Snowdon at the University of Wisconsin, they studied the affect of what David calls species-specific music on cotton-topped tamarin monkeys (see study above).

What catches my attention about David Teie is his commitment to researching the perception and processing of sound by animals, including limbic responses, and creating species-specific music from this awareness. I believe this has the potential to be groundbreaking work! From the David Teie website:

“The scientific foundation of species-specific music rests on discoveries about the fundamental nature of music and about differences among mammalian species in the perception and processing of sound. All mammals are born with templates of sound (primarily connected to emotionally generated vocalizations) that are recognized by the limbic structures in the brain that govern emotional response. Many of these templates come as “standard equipment” and are not always learned, as demonstrated by the observation of a monkey that had been raised in isolation reacting appropriately the first time it heard an alarm call from one of its own species. We humans are built similarly. If someone were to scream in your presence your heart rate would increase; there is no way for you to prevent it. You would not, however, respond similarly to the alarm call of a squirrel. Study of the parameters and characteristics of the natural tempos, developmental environment, and vocalizations of a given species gives us a basis for music that engenders appropriate responses from that species.”19 What does the futre hold for species-specific music? Plans from Teyus Music are to create music for different species every year. Through a project centered at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., David Teie and associates plan to research, analyze, compose, record, and offer CDs for enrichment for 2-3 new species every year. In addition, commercial ventures will begin providing music for dogs and horses. Are these folks serious? Per the Teyus Music website (December 2009): “The concept of species-specific music based on naturally occurring emotional responses to sound has been filed with the United States Patent Office. Any application of the vocalizations, fetal/reward associations, or environmental sonic triggers of a given species in music that is designed to be listened to and appreciated by that species may only be undertaken by or licensed by Teyus Music LLC.”

Preference for consonant music over dissonant music by an infant chimpanzee. It has been shown that humans prefer consonant sounds from the early stages of development. From a comparative psychological perspective, although previous studies have shown that birds and monkeys can discriminate between consonant and dissonant sounds, it remains unclear whether nonhumans have a spontaneous preference for consonant music over dissonant music as humans do. We report here that a five-month-old human-raised chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) preferred consonant music. The infant chimpanzee consistently preferred to produce, with the aid of our computerized setup, consonant versions of music for a longer duration than dissonant versions. This result suggests that the preference for consonance is not unique to humans. Further, it supports the hypothesis that one major basis of musical appreciation has some evolutionary origins.20 (http://www.springerlink.com/content/l380h30558445316/?p=8c9d4c84daab4053a62490bb74a3ad1d&pi=0)

Investigating the human-specificity of synchronization to music. One universal of human music perception is the tendency to move in synchrony with a periodic beat (e.g., in dance). This response is not commonly observed in nonhuman animals, raising the possibility that this behavior relies on brain circuits shaped by natural selection for music. Consequently, if a nonhuman animal can acquire this ability, this would inform debates over the evolutionary status of music. Specifically, such evidence would suggest that this ability did not originate as an evolutionary adaptation for music. We present data from a 2008 experimental study of synchronization to music in a Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita eleanora), “Snowball”, who spontaneously dances in response to certain music (see YouTube: “dancing cockatoo”). Snowball’s preferred song was presented at different tempi (original, +/- 2.5%, 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20%), and his rhythmic movements while dancing were quantified from video. The results reveal occasional bouts of synchronization at a subset of these tempi on ~20% of the trials. This demonstrates that a nonhuman animal can synchronize to a musical beat, though with limited reliability and tempo flexibility. These findings are consistent with the “vocal learning and rhythmic synchronization” hypothesis, which suggests that vocal learning provides the auditory-motor foundation for synchronization to a musical beat.21


Birds can dance, proving humans aren’t the only ones with rhythm. This 2009 study, published in Current Biology disproves the long held belief that only humans can dance. Researchers says that considering the evidence, such a belief wasn’t surprising: “after all, there is no convincing evidence that our closest relatives, chimpanzees and other apes, can keep a beat, and there is similarly no evidence that our pet dogs and cats can line up their actions with a musical beat, in spite of extensive experience with humans. In this work, however, we found that entrainment [to music] is not uniquely human; we find strong evidence for it in birds, specifically in parrots.22

And finally…


University of Cincinnati researcher close to getting canine hearing aid on market. It’s not just people who are living longer these days. Our pets are, too. And like their owners, animals often suffer from the diseases of aging – including hearing loss…”What we’re finding is that we can put hearing aids in, and if the dog is a good candidate, it can bring a certain quality of life back to that animal,” said Scheifele, an assistant professor of bioacoustics and hearing/speech sciences. “This is looking very viable.”23

(Don’t) Pump up the Volume: Sound Waves Silence Whales’ Song. “These animals should have earplugs on,” says whale expert and acoustic ecologist Christopher Christopher Clark, director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University, noting that mid-frequency active sonar has resulted in hundreds of whales and other marine mammals getting flustered, losing their way, and, in some cases, becoming beached and dying.24

Finally, Check out Cymatherapy for horses, The Development of Cyma Equine Bioresonance Therapy http://www.cymahorse.com/history.html, and and laughing dogs.

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