ULYSSES S. Grant, the Civil War general and 18th President of the US, said he only knew two tunes.
“One of them is Yankee Doodle, and the other isn’t,’’ he said.
That’s sad. Music is as necessary for humankind as it is for birds. It affirms life. It reveals to us beauties we find nowhere else.
Clearly, some forms of music are universally better for us than others.
Scientists say birds, like humans, can learn music while they are still in the egg stage. And termites will apparently eat wood two times faster when listening to heavy metal.
In an experiment to discover how music would affect the ability of mice to learn new things, researchers had one group of mice listen to classical music 24 hours a day and another to heavy metal music.
They then timed the mice as they ran through mazes to see if the music affected their speed of learning.
Unfortunately, they had to cut the first experiment short because the heavy metal mice all killed one another.
In a second experiment, mice that listened to Mozart for 10 hours a day dramatically improved their maze-solving abilities, while the heavy metal mice actually became worse at solving mazes than they had been at the beginning of the experiment.
In controlled laboratory conditions, heavy metal sounds have stunted or killed plants, while other music has enhanced plant growth. Plants exposed to jazz or classical music, particularly Bach and Beethoven, have been observed to lean toward the speakers.
Music directly elicits a range of emotions. Music with a quick tempo in a major key, tend to bring about all the physical changes associated with happiness in listeners. In contrast, music with a slow tempo and minor key can inspire sadness.
One study concluded that whales, long studied for their mysterious but beautiful songs under the seas, are actually crooning music similar in content to 1950s hit rock tunes. Whales use rhythms and melodies similar to those used by humans.
Presumably then, they could be jiving to tunes like Great Balls of Fire, Wake Up, Little Susie and perhaps Splish-Splash, I Was Taking a Bath.
Hear the whales singing