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Music works for communication with animals (Read 1351 times)

Offline vladimirdounin

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Music works for communication with animals
« on: August 27, 2011, 04:10:16 AM »
Nobody knows: did music grow from the most common words/intonations of the all languages of our planet, or all these languages grew from music? The most important thing is that Music is a real universal language that is understood by all nations and even by some animals of the Earth.

In any country with any language no one of us would have doubt to understand just “from the music of language”: are people around us friendly and going to invite us for dinner, or they are furious and, probably, plan to crack our heads in vicious attack?

We know a lot of examples of  “animal-to-music” interaction. We know that many composers (not only Saint-Sans with his “Carnival of Animals”) used in their Piano music “languages” of cuckoo, hen, nightingale, donkey (e.g. Miller's Dance by M.de Falla), hunting dogs etc. But I want to tell about some amazing facts that animals understand human music as well, about opposite interaction “music-to-animal”.

At the time, when I was a Student of Moscow Conservatory, some old cleaners and cloak-room assistants told me the story that I could not believe: according to them composer Alexander  Gedike (who of Piano students never played his pieces?) was so admired by local birds that they flew down and were sitting on his head, shoulders and arms, when he went out of his apartment at the New Corpus of Conservatory and whistled or sang some melodies.
“Holy, a real holy man” - said they to me about Gedike.

However, in spite of my disbelief, my post-graduate teacher Vladimir Nielsen in St.- Petersburg told me later on some occasion, that he saw birds on Gedike with his own eyes as well. After such a confirmation I had to believe this story.


Another fact of “music-to-animal” interaction I witnessed self, when our artists during the tour were waiting for a bus and watched “dance of love and courtesy” that local dove–male performed for his “girlfriend” dove-female. At this moment, one of us – brilliant soprano, decided to compete with this beautiful dove-female. She started to sing some aria with the words: “How beautiful you are! How wonderful you are!” etc. She was looking at dove-male and obviously addressed her song to him.

 We could not believe our eyes: this dove-male immediately dumped his dove-girlfriend and started to dance his “waltz of passion” around our soprano. In this way they (soprano and dove-male) entertained us for at least 10-15 minutes until our bus arrived.  


Most recent example happened a few days ago: some skunk in Toronto (Canada) pushed his head into transparent container from “McDonalds” (with tasty drops of some drink inside) and then could not pull his head out of this container. So, he looked exactly as Astronaut in space-suit running in despair from the people, who ran behind skunk, trying to help him.
I decided to try the same approach that I learned from our mentioned above soprano. I sat down on the sidewalk and sang some appropriate tune to this skunk as friendly as possible, promising by words in this song to help him. Skunk was a few meters from me and should be used (in Canada) to English or French of course, but he understood my Russian words or melody as well, and (I have witnesses) came to me self to let me drag off (it was not easy against his hair) this unfortunate container/space-helmet.

And one more unbelievable example (but I can prove it with 3 audio-cassettes from my archive):

Weaver-bird in Republic of South Africa made a few nests (males of this bird have many wives and make separate nest for each of them) in front of my window. Each day he sang for his wives and me a lot of different songs with his hoarse voice, but before flying away for his obviously numerous duties he always performed clearly “Theme of Fate” from Beethoven 5th.

I am sure that stories like mine happened to many of musicians, and hope to read these stories  here.

Vladimir Dounin

Offline outin

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Re: Music works for communication with animals
«Reply #1 on: September 01, 2011, 07:08:53 PM »
I have one cat that loves it when I sing. She always comes by when she hears it and gets as close as she can. She even has some favorite songs. Also she seems to like the piano playing if it's not too loud. 

Her father also liked singing. He came from Thailand and was extremely scared of people but I could always calm him down by singing to him. So I guess it must be a genetic trait. My other cats could not care less, although they don't seem to dislike music.

Offline vladimirdounin

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Re: Music works for communication with animals
«Reply #2 on: August 13, 2012, 05:50:19 AM »
Tonight I watched one more confirmation of this fact. Listen carefully: how this brave Police Officer speaks to the poor moose trapped by swing. Moose obviously understood "the music of his words" correctly, and we can see the happy end of the story because of "musical communication" with the huge, powerful animal.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-buzz/officer-sets-moose-tangled-swing-set-chains-loose-152544453.html

vladimir Dounin

Offline ahinton

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Re: Music works for communication with animals
«Reply #3 on: August 13, 2012, 04:43:26 PM »
Speaking as a composer, I can assure you and anyone else here that it's already more than hard enough writing music for communication with humans (who are invariably the ones that perform it).

Isn't Stravinsky credited (debited?) with having said (though with quite what intended effect I am uncertain) "my music is best understood by children and animals"? I have to admit that, in all of my professional life as a musician, I have yet to encounter a child for whom Requiem Canticles has assumed an immediate personal significance, let alone a horse or cat able to respond intelligently to Agon or Oedipus Rex or even a bird that can immediately grasp l'Oiseau de Feu, but then maybe something got lost in translation from the Russian (assuming that Stravinsky even made that remark in Russian in the first place)...

More importantly (and perhaps also more widely known) is the oft-cited warning in drama circles "never work with children or animals".

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline emrysmerlin

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Re: Music works for communication with animals
«Reply #4 on: August 13, 2012, 05:22:48 PM »
Quote
Nobody knows: did music grow from the most common words/intonations of the all languages of our planet, or all these languages grew from music? The most important thing is that Music is a real universal language that is understood by all nations and even by some animals of the Earth.

Regarding as a believer of the theory of evolution as a standpoint, I do believe that generally animals with lower intelligence, excluding those that interact through a different method other than by sound, that language must have evolved from the most basic sounds, expressing different emotions through variations of rhythm, pitch and dynamics.

When I try figure out what foreigners on the streets are talking about I often listen most to how sharp/accented the words are and how harshly they talk. I also somehow playfully try to catch some of their phrases for fun.

The opening to Beethoven's fifth sure is both powerful (accented) and sharp. While as a human being I cannot from logic understand how an animal such as a Weaver-bird would "always perform clearly “Theme of Fate” from Beethoven 5th" - which probably implies it is sang without variations on rhythm and pitch I assume - it might simply be because it's a catchy tune to remember. Play it a Wagnerian choral theme and it might not do the same.

Ravel's works, I personally would like to point out his String Quartet in F Major in particular, gives this sensation. Ravel's works, in my opinion, are the true first 12-tone pieces that does not rely on melodic inventions to produce "music" while making good use of the aforementioned elements of music (referred to as "sound" from now on) to express emotion.

As demonstrated by preference in the selection of keys to compose music in since Beethoven's time, some keys do give straight feelings/impressions that are hard to alter. C minor for example, inspires one to compose a piece depicting a struggle.

ps: I kind of do regard the composition of 12-tone music as an act of indolence from harmonically connecting strips of music.

Offline starstruck5

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Re: Music works for communication with animals
«Reply #5 on: August 17, 2012, 01:35:34 PM »
Glenn Gould had some thought on the subject -


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