Home of authentic species-specific music: the NY Times #1 idea of 2009
   
                                   
   
 
   

Science / For pet lovers

The basis of the theory of species-specific music was formed from ideas that were to be included in a series of lecture demonstrations that David Teie was preparing for music students. During his investigation David uncovered a number of characteristics of music that seemed to be universal to human aesthetics and tailored to human perception. After two years of research and reasoning he felt that he had acquired enough of an understanding of the relationship between music and emotions to test his theory.

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 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 characteristics of a given species gives us a basis for music for that species.

Research Results: Many previous experiments on animal response to music composed for humans (hereinafter, “human music”) have been conducted, but none of these studies had demonstrated significant responses; animals are largely indifferent to human music.

We performed tests at the University of Wisconsin on cotton-topped tamarin monkeys. As with all previous studies, the tamarins showed a lack of interest in the human music. By contrast, the effect on them of the species-specific music composed by David Teie was remarkably clear and convincing. They displayed a marked increase of activity in response to the music that was designed to excite them, while the “tamarin ballad” music induced a significant calming.

Following are quotes from a research paper about these experiments that will soon be submitted for publication. The psychologist Charles Snowdon, who conducted the testing and authored these statements, is a highly respected but extremely cautious and skeptical scientist not normally given to making sweeping statements:

“Our predictions were supported. Music composed for tamarins had a much greater effect on the behavior of tamarins than music composed for humans. …tamarins displayed significant behavioral change only to the music that was specifically composed for them and were unaffected by human music.”

To the best of our knowledge, this marks the first time that an art form has been shown by scientific test and observation to engender the measurable appreciation of any species other than human.

   

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