Monday, May 16, 2016

Music For Dogs, Anyone?

Given that Music for Cats was a runaway success, will Laurie Anderson’s Music For Dogs be the next big thing in the species appropriate music scene? 

By: Ringo Bones 
She is not just the “mere” widow of the late, great Lou Reed; Laurie Anderson is also renowned for her inventive use of technology – from her 1981 hit O Superman to her appointment as NASA’s first artist-in-residence. Laurie Anderson is indeed one of America’s most daring creative pioneers her eclectic multidisciplinary career has spanned the worlds of art, theatre and experimental music and has seen her create works as a writer, director, visual artist and vocalist. But will her Music for Dogs for this year’s Brighton Festival be the next big thing when it comes to the still unoccupied scene of species appropriate music? 

“Wouldn’t it be great if you’re playing a concert and you look out and everyone’s a dog,” Laurie Anderson mused while waiting backstage with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. True to form, Anderson made her outlandish dream come true: first at the Sydney Opera House and again in New York’s Times Square earlier this year, making headlines around the world. The 20-minute long piece has been specifically designed for the canine ear, including frequencies audible only to dogs, as well as other sounds for humans to enjoy. It looks like David Teie’s Music For cats is not the only happening thing in the species appropriate music scene. 

Speaking of how dogs react to music, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - or CSIRO - published research results back in 2012 on the result of a study conducted in cooperation with various veterinarians across Australia on the subject of how dogs react to music. Upbeat music / up-tempo music tend to make dogs more restless and animated while quieter slow tempo music – especially those with violins and cellos by Bach and Mozart – tend to make dogs more relaxed and rested and Laurie Anderson’s 20 minute piece falls into this category. One of the unexpected results of the CSIRO research, dogs have shown a preference to campfire music with guitar and harmonica because they not only howl along with the music but also smile if they get tired with singing along with the piece.   

Friday, February 12, 2016

Music for Cats, Anyone?

Given the healthy Kickstarter support and satisfied early customers, will “Music for Cats” soon be topping the Billboard Singles and Download Charts? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Yes, folks, it is actually a thing and basing on the Kickstarter support during the past few years and satisfied early customer testimonials, it seems like the New York Times actually got it right when it called Cat Music as the number one idea of the year 2009. Music for Cats was born out of cellist David Teie’s scientific theory on the fundamental nature of music appreciation by mammals. He contended that every species has an intuitive biological response to sounds present in their early development. Felines establish their sense of music through the sounds heard after they’re born – i.e. birds chirping or their mother’s purr. With this premise, Teie composed Music for Cats, incorporating feline-centric sounds and their natural vocalizations with respect to a cat’s frequency range of hearing. An independent study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and published in Applied Animal Behavior verified that Music for Cats resonates conclusively with its target audience – namely cats – and writing that “cats showed a significant preference for and interest in species-appropriate music.” 

Cellist David Teie was born into a musical family, spanning three generations of professional musicians and a long line of musicians, composers and professional instrumentalists. Since 2014, Teie has been the conductor and music director of Washington D.C.’s premier chamber orchestra – the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra – and currently serves on the faculty at University of Maryland’s School of Music. His career has spanned performing as a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra under Russian maestro Mstislav Rostropovich, acting principal cellist of the San Francisco Symphony where he performed as cellist on Metallica’s 1999 album S&M. His research has been published in the Royal Society Biology Letters and in Evolution of Emotional Communication. 

According to Teie, cats were our first choice because they’re widely kept as pets, allowing us to easily share music with them. While the most mellifluous of Debussy’s compositions seem to be largely ignored by cats – i.e. most human-centric music seems to be ignored by cats and raising the volume only drives them away. Testimonials by those who already manage to purchase the CD or download the music and tested Teie’s Music for Cats on their own cats say that it has a relaxing and calming effect on their cats, making them less hyperactive and more able to adapt in the indoor domestic environment. Will there soon be hi-fi audio gear specifically designed to please cats?