Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Music in our genes?

© ILLC Blog, Illustration by Marianne de Heer Kloots


"In 1984, a curious study on musicality in animals was published. The researchers from Portland, Oregon trained pigeons to distinguish two pieces of music – one by Bach, the other by Stravinsky. If the birds got it right, they were rewarded with food. Afterwards, the same pigeons were exposed to new pieces of music from the same composers. Surprisingly, they were still able to determine which piece was composed by which composer.

This finding confronted researchers with a new set of questions. To what extent are animals musical? What does it even mean for an animal to be musical? And what can this teach us about musicality in humans?" 

(From Music in our genes, ILLC Blog).

The interview is based on an episode of the podcast “Talk that Science” – an initiative started by students from the University of Amsterdam.

• Listen to the episode here (in Dutch);
• Link to the English transcript can be found here.

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