While most animals do not appreciate music, a recent study published in the latest Royal Society Biology Letters showed that monkeys, more particularly cotton-top tamarins, do; and their musical preference is likely to surprise a few people.
University of Maryland lecturer David Teie, a co-author of the study and a cellist in the National Symphony Orchestra explains:
All of the previous studies on the effect of human music on animals has shown that they don’t give a hoot about our music. Did we really think that bats would get little tears flowing up their little faces when listening to the ‘Ave Maria’?
Music is a human construct designed for humans. Absolutely everything about human music is based on human development and perception, from the speeds of the pulses to how high the melodies are. Every part of human music is based on human appeal.
Thus, Teie set about music that would appeal to monkeys by using specific tamarin calls and manipulating pitch and call duration. Teie composed two types of music: one type was to convey fear, the other friendly affiliation.
The results of the monkey music might be considered predictable, the music with fearful tamarin calls made the animals jittery, while the music that denoted friendly affiliation soothed them and some even began to forage.
Human music had little effect on the tamarins, with one notable exception. The monkeys were soothed by Metallica. There is no specific mention if the music played was from Metallica’s recent releases or from their vastly superior older collection.