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  Understanding the Benefit of Music for Animals

Music is made up of frequencies, volume and vibrationsThe good instinct of many dog, cat and horse owners is to leave a radio or TV on for their pets in the home or barn. Choices of classical music stations, talk radio or country music are used. There are also choices of CD music for pets on the market. This new awareness of music for pets depicts the need for animals to have the company of sound for behavioral calm and atmospheric soothing.Species-specific musicMusic is made up of the same qualities of sounds as in nature, frequencies, volume, and vibrations. During many years of casual observations, I had noted relaxed responses from the animals in my care. Each one consistently gravitated to my side while I was playing live music. The tipping point for me was when my severely injured cat, Osborn, was in the veterinarian hospital. When I visited him, I was struck by the lack of music in the hospital environment. Music was part of his daily life. When he passed, I passionately committed my work to understanding why animals instinctively benefit from music, as humans do, and researching what qualities would guarantee positive results for each species.

We are learning more and more that music has a profound instinctual response from animals for physical and behavioral benefits.The beginning to bridging music and animals was the ability to duplicate music on records for radio broadcast. Being able to bring the music to the animal was and still is a new field. It was observed and then documented that dairy cows produced more milk when listening to relaxing music. Researchers believe that farmers could get an extra pint from their charges by playing classical music. Psychologists Dr. Adrian North and Liam MacKenzie at the University of Leicester, UK played music of different tempos to herds of Friesian cattle. Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony resulted in greater milk production. When loud and rowdy music was played, there was no increase in milk yield. "Calming music can improve milk yield, probably because it reduces stress," said North and MacKenzie."Over the last decade, our knowledge of the auditory abilities of animals in general has been the object of study because it was necessary to determine the hearing abilities of large mammals in order to answer certain questions concerning the evolution of human hearing." H. E. Heffner, Farm Animals and the Environment. (pp.159-184). Wallingford UK: CAB International.From 2003, I have been observing and testing the results of music for dogs, cats and horses. I began by writing to Universities around the world to receive papers on the frequency and decibel hearing ranges of animals. I based the design of my music according to the data research of H. Heffner and R.S. Heffner PH.D. ~ Dept of Psychology at the University of Toledo in Ohio (USA) I have the utmost respect and appreciation for Dr. H. Heffner and Dr. R.S. Heffner’s scientific work on this subject. Hearing of animals and sound localization is relatively a new field and their research is extensive and renowned. Once I had the data of the Hz range of dogs and cats, I purposefully composed the music within a high register, a range that dogs and cats hear the most comfortably.

Don't you instinctively raise the inflection of your voice when speaking to a dog or a cat? I also added into the music design, the observation that dogs and cats prefer long sustained tones and non-jarring volumes to maintain their state of rest. The premise became logical to me that by eliminating the high frequency content of the music that dogs and cats could be relaxed by releasing their alert reactions to high frequencies in their listening environment. The results were repeatable and the relaxation occurred within five minutes of listening. My next interest moved forward to horses. While visiting stables, riding, working with veterinarians and speaking with horse owners and breeders, I observed special music was needed, tailored for the sensitive physiognomy and environment of horses. I discovered that human and equine hearing ranges are the most closely related than any other mammals. Considering the closeness of people with their horses in speech this enhanced the understanding of this bond through the musical design. I purposefully composed the music in an alto range where equines seem to find the most comfortable to hear. In my observations of horse response to music, I learned that they prefer shorter melodic phrases with rhythmic patterns. This was logical as horses movements are in beats of two's and three's.

The recording process-  As a recording artist for humans for many years, I am well versed in the recording and mastering process. With this skill and the direction of my own species-specific compositions, I am able to go into the final stage of the music to contour the frequency and decibel design of the music for the intended animal, thanks to digital technology.I have received hundreds of positive reviews worldwide and many included that the music had relaxed the pet owner alongside their pet. Inspired by these comments, I continued the species-specific concept to facilitate the human-animal bond with music. Opening up the aperture of sound slightly for human hearing comfort and maintaining the comPress Roomed and sonic design, people enjoy the music as well. Ultimately, this music calms the frequency content of the air of the living environment and elicits a state of relaxation. I believe that we are in an era where we, as a society are spending more time eliminating stimulation from our lives, instinctively seeking balance and well-being.
Text by Janet Marlow all rights reserved  2014

How We Hear - Imagine that you are standing in the center of a field out in nature. The sounds common to this experience have an aural perspective, meaning that we hear in a 360-degree circle- the height and depth of all the sounds. For instance, one can hear the rustling of leaves in the trees, a breeze rushing past our ears, birds chirping nearby and in the distance, airplanes overhead, or cars on a nearby road; we can also hear the contrasting quiet of stillness. We can identify these sounds as they occur, “I understand that is a bird, that is the wind in the trees, that is a car approaching, and that is a plane.” Our reactions to these sounds are appropriate to how we identify the sound source in the aural perspective of our environment.

How They Hear  - Dogs, cats and horses hear frequency ranges that are both much higher and much lower than what humans are capable of hearing. In addition to their acute hearing, the important difference between their hearing capacity and ours is that an animal does not have the same spatial localization as a human, even though their hearing is more acute. In other words, they react to the sound source without analyzing what it is but react to frequency and volume by a flight or fight response.As our pets live in non-nature environments for the most part, these instinctive reactions to extreme sounds can often manifest themselves as behavioral responses such as stress, anxiety or aggression.Animals listen to sounds and music quite differently than humans. Your pet does not have the same audio/spatial localization ability that you have. If there are jarring sounds or shots at loud unexpected volumes, a dog, cat or horse will hear the sound at a greater intensity than humans and instinctively go into fight or flight mode. Amazingly, dogs can react to a sound at .06 of a second.