Against the conventional wisdom that music is a uniquely human phenomenon, ongoing research shows that animals actually do have the capacity for music. But rather than liking Classical or Techno, Snowdon, an animal psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has discovered that animals march to the beat of a different drum altogether. They enjoy what he calls “species-specific music”: tunes specially designed using the pitches, tones and tempos that are familiar to their particular species. Humans like music that falls within our acoustic and vocal range, uses tones we understand and progresses at a tempo similar to that of our heartbeats. A tune pitched too high or low sounds grating or ungraspable, and music too fast or slow is unrecognizable as such. To animals, human music falls into that grating, unrecognizable category. With vocal ranges and heart rates very different from ours, they simply aren’t wired to enjoy songs that are tailored for our ears.
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