monkey music

This link will only be active for a few weeks, I think. But here’s the headline:

Monkeys prefer metal to Mozart

The article says a recent study shows that monkey’s somehow found heavy metal music relaxing. The researchers wrote music specifically for monkeys, imitating the sounds they make in their calls and cries. The conclusion?

The results suggests music is species-specific. It may be used to communicate an emotional state and try to induce that same emotional state in the listener, Snowdon said.

I’m just wanting to know if they played ‘Hey, Hey, it’s the Monkees’ for them?



  1. Some more details at:

    This is closely related to the research on “fractal” music and songbird patterns over the past decade.

    Roger Scruton’s book “Beauty” made almost the identical observation to the researcher quoted in this article: “The very nature of music itself is that it’s stylized, that it almost extracts the emotional parts of the sound and makes it impossible to identify.”

    • Joshua, could you expand on that Scruton comment, or give a bit more context? I’m not quite getting it.

      While I and my family are having a bit of fun with the article after we saw it in the paper, I think the research itself is quite interesting.


      You might be on to something!

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. No wonder monkeys don’t grow plants!!!

  3. Yeah, the part in quotes was from the monkey researcher, who is saying that a key characteristic of music is that it communicates indirectly, through a veil.

    Scruton’s book (in Chapter 5) discussed this as the difference between “representation” and “expression”. The stuff that we consider to be poetry, music, and art all involves indirect “expression” of something that we can feel and be moved by, through the work of art. He develops this argument leading up to the example of Schubert’s Wintereisse, which is a supremely moving expression of love lost. Someone could simply write “A young man was heartbroken”, which would be “representational” instead of “expressive”, and would be hardly as moving.

    It’s why, I think, C.S. Lewis preferred metaphor and story, and gave up on the expository/logical argument later in life.

    • Interesting… I think I’ll have to add that to my book list. (Like I need more books!)


      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3