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Music for Animals

Music for Animals is a new project by Laurel Braitman that explores what takes place when musicians play shows for animals that are usually on show. Braitman, a writer and historian of science, believes that nonhuman animals have an individual taste for sound, just like humans.

What, if anything, can we learn about animals by playing music for them? Can playing music for animals help us learn more about ourselves?  Braitman is on a journey to find out.

“Nothing exposes the limits of the human imagination more than imagining what it is like to be someone else. Particularly if that someone else is nonhuman,” she writes on her website.

The project, which includes a series of concerts, has seen Jason Holt, of Spectrum, perform for sea lions; Pete Frauenfelder, of Slow Motion Cowboys and Trainwreck Riders, perform for a miniature donkey; Good Shield Aguilar perform for bison; and Grass Widow perform for gorillas. Future shows may include hyenas, dogs, giraffes, raccoons and a whale.

Sharing music with animals is not a new concept. Over 30 years, Jim Nollan was involved in bringing music to orcas, belugas, cachalots, pseudorcas, dolphins and humpbacks around the world. In 2010, Laurie Anderson performed live music for dogs in a canine concert, the first of its kind. In Hong Kong, Fong Chi-hung plays music, ranging from Cantonese pop to rap, for the 20,000 chickens on his Chung Hing Musical Farm. And even average people share their music or recordings with their pets.

Many of the Music for Animal performances have not been documented beyond photographs, but below is video of Grass Widow’s recent performance of “Milo Minute” for gorillas (Gigi, Kiki, Kira, Kimani, Kambiri and Kit) at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston.


P.S. There’s a band called Music for Animals that is not at all affiliated with Braitman’s project but might be worth a listen.


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