If you are a pet owner, the chances are good that, at some point or another, you have played music around your animal. Although it is quite obvious when a dog likes or dislikes something, the cat is a much more subtle animal, capable of expressing its emotional framework with an array of behaviours and mannerisms that are infinitely more nuanced that dogs. With that in mind, it is, perhaps, more difficult to understand when your actions are either pleasing or displeasing the animal in your life.
Interest in the types of music that animals prefer has been steadily growing over the past few years, thanks in large part to the efforts of inquisitive pioneers such as David Teie, a classically trained musician who has begun to seek out supporters for his newest initiative, a recording project designed exclusively for cats.
Given the fact that cats devote 25% of their brains to auditory sensations, Teie believes it is definitely worth the effort to provide cats with tunes that they will enjoy. The project began when, in 2008, an article published by the Washington Post caught his attention. In it, a reporter had stated that researchers had used two songs recorded by Teie as part of a study in which they were played for cats. According to the results obtained by the scientists, 77% of the cats who were exposed to Teie’s music reacted in a positive manner.
Although it might simply be flattering enough for an individual to know that animals enjoy their music, Teie sought to understand exactly why this reaction may have occurred. Following his research, he concluded that, much like humans, animals respond later in life to many of the sounds they hear while in the womb. Given the fact that monkeys often hear high pitched voices while in the womb, Teie hypothesised that they would enjoy music which figure vocal-like, high-pitched lines. His hypothesis was proven correct.
With cats, Teie observed that some of the earliest sounds these animals are exposed to is the sound of birds chirping and their mothers purring. Because of this, Teie sought to create music that had a natural, relaxing atmosphere. If this was the environmental ambience that cats were exposed to prior to birth, Teie postulated, than this must also be the sound world they experience during listening in order to ensure maximum enjoyment. In order to ensure that the sounds are as accurate as possible, Teie has had to stretch his creative imagination. In order to mimic the sound of a cat purring, for example, Teie wrote harmonically dense lines for harp which create audible sonic vibrations, much like the physical feeling of a cat purring.
With this idea in mind, the idea of writing music for animals may not seem so far fetched after all. If we operate under the assumption that scientific research can help shed light on even the strangest questions we may ask ourselves, then it should come as no surprise that Teie has been able to more accurately understand exactly what kind of music his cat, as well as other cats at large, may enjoy. Therefore, an album devoted to music written specifically for cats isn’t such a radical idea. In fact, it seems reasonable to assume that Teie could devote his entire artistic career to developing albums for any number of animals, assuming he has the ability to properly research their earliest sonic experiences.
According to Teie, the album devoted specifically to pets will likely be made available at some point this year. Those who are interested in learning more about the project and possible contributing financially to the endeavour can do so at Teie’s website. Stay tuned for more updates on this altogether fascinating musical endeavour