The Sound of Music

The hill’s are alive with the sound of… music-al animals!

I’d imagine most people wonder how animals interpret music. Do they enjoy the beats you blare out of your speakers? Has an animal ever made music? What’s the deal?

There have been a few observations of animals dancing to music (for starters, take a look at the posts in the archive on the dancing parrot and the groovin’ golden). In my experience, it seems that if you’re enjoying the music and sending out good energy because of it, the animal picks up on it. If you’re riding a horse for example, you’ll feel the rhythm of the music in your body, the horse will feel that, and the two of you will end up moving in smoother unison.

An animal’s musical life begins with language and the way in which they communicate. This much we know.

Tone of voice (or growl and neigh), pitch, and intonation of a series of nonverbal sounds, plays a huge role in how animals communicate. The same growl a dog uses when he plays can suddenly become terrifying when he uses it with a slightly different and more aggressive tone in a fight that same day. It’s very noticeable (as well as studied more frequently) with birds, primates and marine mammals. These animals have very complex musical language systems, and so do humans.

Your dog, or horse, can read the tone in your voice just like your child or any other human is able to. You can say “Hi!!” or “…Hi…”. It’s the same word but the tone of your voice reveals to others that you’re not doing so well. In music, one note can be played in a happy way, or in a sad way.

Babies relate to lullabies, and understand tone before they can comprehend language. Music can be very powerful – if someone’s depressed, sick, or having a bad day. So it seems easy to assume that animals relate to our music too… or do they? Observe how your pet reacts to tunes you put on. How do they act when you start dancing around with a huge grin on your face?


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