In this week’s spotlight I want to draw your attention to some important and yet generally little known aspects about music. Years ago I became interested in the power of sound. One of my early studies had to do with replicating a finding I discovered having to do with the influence of music on animals. The study I’m referring to showed that cows gave more milk when “they listened to soothing songs like Bridge Over Troubled Water. According to the study, cows find it easy to release oxytocin, which is a hormone that is related to the milking process, when they listen to music.”1
Fast and Slow Music
Studies have shown that playing slow, rhythmic music, influences animals and lowers their stress. Indeed, “…psychologists at the University of Leicester (UK) experimented with music and milk production by testing fast music and slow music to 2 different groups of cows. The results showed that the cows that listened to slow music increased their milk output by 3%. Meanwhile cows that heard fast music showed no change in milk production.”2
Following up on this study, many began testing other animals and the influence music had on their production. For example, “Spanish scientists have found that playing classical music to layer hens reduces their stress levels, building on previous studies that show calmer chickens have heavier eggs.”3
Others discovered that chickens laid more eggs.4 Additionally, dogs are more relaxed in kennels when listening to classical music, bird brains react to music similar to how humans react to music, fish can identify composers, and elephants may actually be better at playing music than humans. What’s more, scientists have learned to write music that cats and monkeys favorably respond to.5
Plants and Music
Studies have shown that many animals create music and that music can influence the mood states of animals. So it turns out that music has a universal influence on the entire animal kingdom. Well, what about plants? Guess what—studies have also found positive effects of music on plants. “Dr. T. C. Singh also discovered that seeds that were exposed to music and later germinated produced plants that had more leaves, were of greater size, and had other improved characteristics. It practically changed the plant’s genetic chromosomes! Working around the same time as Singh, Canadian engineer Eugene Canby exposed wheat to J.S. Bach’s violin sonata and observed a 66% increase in yield. Canby’s research reinforces Singh’s findings.”6
My Own Research
Okay, back to my own research. Using my stallion stables at the time and during breeding season, I initiated two quick studies. This is a time of stress in a breeding stable: the stallions are anxious, the mares are nervous even when they’re ready to receive the stud, and this excitement causes all the horses to pace and wave their heads and necks back and forth. While playing easy listening music, we watched this stress disappear. The horses became much quieter, threw much less hay on the ground, and water consumption became normal. Then I tried playing heavy metal music and witnessed tensions rise. This sort of music appeared to worsen the nervousness and increase the stress, so we stopped it after less than a full day.
One way I have evaluated music is with a device given me by one of the co-inventors of ultrasound. The device is a cymatic unit that displays the geometry of music live time. I have seen the geometry of music, and some is organic while other music is so discordant as to represent only a helter mix of non-organic images.
Every week we play our guests favorite music during my radio show. It’s interesting to me in many ways and we have often discovered some truly self-disclosing aspects of our guests. Music continues to be an important part of who we are. Just this past week I posted a study that showed “tailored music sessions could be crucial in transforming the lives of millions of people whose speech is impacted by learning difficulties, strokes, dementia, brain damage and autism.”7
Music has awakened those with serious cognitive issues such as Alzheimer patients who are unable to even answer yes or no questions. Play the right tune and suddenly they are fully alert and aware and cognizant of their surroundings, able to dance a jig, answer questions, and carry on a normal conversation. I could go on and on about the power of music, but it astounds me that somehow we lost the importance of music in our educational system—dropping classes in music theory or appreciation in many schools. For me, it’s time we bring music back into our schools and embrace it’s sometimes magical power to heal.
My thoughts anyway—what are yours?
As always, thanks for the read.
- Staff. “Researchers Says That Cows Give More Milk When Listening To Music.” Mind Blowing Facts.
O’Brien, A. 2014. “Milking to Music.” Modern Farmer. February 10, 2014.
- Staff. “Slow Jams Make Cows Produce More Milk: Study Says.” Stanpack.
North, A. & MacKenzie, L. 2001. “‘Music Study’ Reveals way of Increasing Milk Yields.” University of Leicester, Press Release.
- Staff. 2014. “Chickens who Listen to Classical Music Lay Bigger Eggs, Scientists Find.” The Courier Mail. February 7, 2014.
- Staff. 2013. “Hens lay more eggs when listening to ‘soothing classical music.'” Hindustan Times. December 28, 2013.
- Danko, M. “7 Scientific Studies About How Animals React to Music.” Mental Floss.
- Staff. 2017. “The Effect of Music on Plant Growth.” Den Garden. May 23, 2017.
- University of Plymouth. 2017. “Music Sessions Can Help Millions Who Struggle to Speak to Lead a Richer Life.” Science Daily. June 14, 2017.