Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Do Non-Human Animals Like Human Music?

We think of song as an artistic expression, a beat to groove to, a melodic story. But to animals that use it (arguably including many birds, whales, and primates), “song” is generally a competitive vocal signal used to attract mates and deter rivals. This leaves us wondering: Do any non-human animals have music? Can they even enjoy human music? Some certainly seem to:

A Cockatoo Shakes His Tailfeather:


A Beluga Whale Listens To A Mariachi Serenade:

A Dog Grooves To His Buddy's Guitar:

What do you think? There is evidence that some animals enjoy singing themselves, but can non-human animals appreciate human music? What is it about rhythms and melodies that we humans appreciate anyway and can the ability to appreciate music improve an animal’s (including our own) chance of survival?

It turns out, some researchers have tackled these questions. But that, my friends, is for another post.


  1. Peabody, our rescued Treeing Walker Coonhound, used to roll his eyes and howl along as my husband played the banjo, or as I played the violin.

  2. There is some research out there about animals reactions to various types of music

  3. Our Shih-Tzu normally sings along with the recorded carillon bells that are played at 6 p.m. from the roof of our neighborhood church. He goes out on our deck throws his head back and croons along. AWWrooRoooroo.

    The reason we think it is enjoyment and not pain is that he hustles to get out there if he misses the beginning of the bell-hymns. One time he was sitting by the TV with his eyes half-closed and did not hear that the bells had begun playing outside. I commented to family members in the room, "I'm surprised Joey isn't out there singing."

    He heard his name mentioned, perked his ears up as he took a few steps toward me, then suddenly heard that the music was playing without him!!! Dashed out the dog door onto the porch and raised his voice in song.

    Now we have a tiny Pomeranian who joins him in a duet accompanied by church bells. The Pom doesn't croon though. He yips rhythmically.

    Usually they only do the first song of the evening. Then the dogs come inside as the bells continue to play.

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  6. I have experienced it my toco(dog) loves jazz music. I have noticed him many time.

  7. Its not all react but certain frequency that animals feel catchy and react to it...