The effect of sound on living beings

Picture of Frederick Dodson

Frederick Dodson

A quote from the book “The Mozart Effect” by Don Campbell:

“Carlson went back to his home in Minnesota and contemplated ways to improve plant growth, not only by enriching soil, but also by strengthening the mouthlike openings in leaf structures. He thought it might be possible for plants to select what they needed to grow best rather than being force-fed (as the apostles of new chemical soil supplements preached).

He began to experiment with the idea that sound would prompt plants to open up their pores, enabling them to absorb more nutrients. First, he considered the times of the day when plant pores were most open, and discovered that plants grew best in the early morning when the birds were singing. Then it hit him. Perhaps certain types of music or nonmelodic sounds would stimulate plant growth. Carlson devised cassette tapes that contained nonmusical sounds (that is, sounds that we don’t consider true melody).

He found a specialist in Minneapolis, Michael Holtz, who confirmed that certain music has vibrations and frequencies in common with birdsong. One of the first types of music he found to which plants seemed to respond is played by the sitar, the traditional stringed instrument from India. The sound of the sitar is not for all Western ears, but plants can’t seem to get enough of it.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Retallack, a graduate student at Temple Beull College in Denver, also began to experiment with plants and music. She constructed five small greenhouses and placed corn, squash, marigolds, zinnias, and petunias inside. The greenhouses were all the same size and received the same lighting, water, and soil. For several months, she played different types of music to plants in four of the chambers. (As a control, the fifth had no sounds piped in.)

One group of plants got Bach, the second Indian classical music, the third loud rock, and the last county-western. She found that Bach and Indian music stirred the growth of the plants dramatically. The flowers were more abundant, and the vines even grew toward the speakers. In the rock & roll greenhouse, all was not well: There were many fewer flowers, and the plants didn’t seem to want to grow. In the country-western greenhouse, to Retallack’s surprise, she found that the plants developed almost identically to those in the house where there was no music at all”

This topic could benefit from more up-to-date research using newer bassdrum-heavy electronic music and certain “healing sound frequencies” commonly found on youtube. Just like a wide variety of music can be “muscle tested” to see if it’s nourishing to living beings, it can also be “plant tested”.

I’m not “against” non-nourishing music as some forms of hard music can be fun/exciting, but we must ask ourselves why 99% of the music played on radios and in public is of a verifably non-nourishing nature.

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