In general, non-human animals prefer silence to our music.
“Did we really think that bats would get little tears flowing up their little faces when listening to the Ave Maria?” said David Teie, a lecturer in the School of Music at the University of Maryland who is also a professional cellist.
Teie studied how cotton-top tamarins react to music. The monkeys showed little response, but surprisingly seemed to calm down whenever they heard the heavy metal band Metallica.
The diminutive, fluffy monkeys also listened intently to music Teie created that was based on the structure of their own calls.
Shinozuka did not rule out that it might be possible to tailor make music to please fish and other non-human species, but said “ability for acoustic communications” might be needed by the animal.
There appears to be no winning formula, though, for creating music to please all people.
As Shinozuka said, “Some people enjoy classical music, but other people become sleepy when they hear it. Some people enjoy rock music, but other people experience it as noise.”
In terms of the fish findings, Clive Wynne of the Arizona State University Department of Psychology told Discovery News that he agrees with the new study’s conclusions.
Wynne said “the paper shows that fish hear sounds and can tell the difference between two pieces of music … Whereas people will pay money for music, the fish were not willing to hang out in a particular part of their tank in order to have the music turned on.”
Many families keep goldfish for pets. Shinozuka suspects most of us underestimate their abilities.
“Scientific studies have demonstrated that fish are more intelligent than people believe,” he said. “Please value your goldfish!”