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Do animals have rhythm?
I came across the following amazing video. Look at the way the horse moves starting around about 1:10.

I've never seen a horse move to the music like that. But at other times in the same video, it seems like she's not listening to the music at all (the montage, to be fair, is not great). Which brings me to the question: Do animals move to music -- disco or otherwise? Has anybody ever seen their puppy or kitten swaying to a beat? What is animals' relation to rhythm?
That is a great video!  Having ridden horses, it is amazing to see that kind of control- the horse and rider really are a team here.  Best I could do was hang on.  But no, don't think my dog ever swayed to the beat, although I do like the image.  Another question along a similar line... do animals watch TV?  I was in a gas station the other day and they were selling DVDs to play for your dog or cat while you are away.   I can't imagine this is anything but a marketing gimmick, but has anyone tried this on their pet?
Hi, interesting question and beautiful video, thanks for sharing it here. I have a special relation to a few animals with whom I grew up and who were therefore obliged to listen to me practicing my piano daily. My parrot enjoyed and still enjoys music tremendously. We got him just as I was starting to play and he always used to sing along. After a few years, I practiced pieces that he especially liked and he was swaying and dancing to the rhythm on his wood. I remember he especially liked Prokofiev 1st Concerto and 3rd Sonata, he was dancing wildly and we were basically competing on who would be louder. I’m quite sure that Prokofiev was his favourite composer (together maybe with Bach, he also liked a lot the 6th partita).

It was more difficult to see how my dog and cats reacted to music. I had a cat who used to run crazy in the attic but I can’t quite remember if it was connected to the playing or to her own madness. Of course there is Nora the piano-cat, that doesn’t show a great sense of rhythm but a more sensual connection to sound and sound production. My dog couldn’t care less and I don’t think they are very sensitive to rhythm or music in general (also from what I saw on youtube). Going back to the video, what I loved about the horse was the sheer joy of dancing to the music, it seemed that he felt it very deeply and his elation was just naturally transmitted to the public. Great performance.

The question of whether animals can transfer musical rhythm to movement is considered in the very interesting lecture by Aniruddh Patel, who has made a career studying the neurology of music:
I think the horse might be responding to cues in the hips of the rider.  Good riders rein their horses this way.
If you do other searches in youtube for musical animals, esp. "mozart parrot" you will find persuasive examples of animals moving in time to music.
I have noticed myself a kind of muddy syncopation in the way parrots and young children move to music, as if they haven't quite got it but almost could.
Off topic, but quite fascinating is the way the parrots in the videos play with the structure of the Mozart arias and themes in what seems to me a very birdlike musical syntax - but this is beside the point.
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Latest Post: September 18, 2010 at 9:28 AM
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