Monday, 24 June 2013

Classical music audiences behaving like cows

There is a current fascination, hopefully just a fad, going around on youTube where musicians are filming themselves playing music to cows (I'm not joking. I have included four examples below). These are of course intriguing experiments and indeed it appears that the cows are rather smitten with classical music. Apparently even the quantity and quality of the milk produced by the musically appreciative cows improves. I guess this proves once and for all how wonderful classical music is, right? But you already knew that, of course.

The video clips below clearly show cows to be generally attentive listeners, which really is remarkable. I have been known to sound like a cow on an off day on the cello myself (something similar to the first video below). Perhaps it is the similarities between bovine sounds and the sounds produced by string instruments that appeals to the cows.

I have no idea why cows seem drawn to music, however,
I could not help but notice the similarities in the behaviour between cows and human audiences (see below video). I've grouped the behaviours that I have observed into three categories. The first group are those cows/humans who are well behaved, attentive and appreciative of the performance. The second group is easily distracted, generally fidgeting or continuing with some other activity, eating in the case of cows, reading the programme or consulting cell phones in the case of humans. The third group can't seem to shut up and end up mooing in the case of cows and talking or coughing in the case of humans.

I try not to be too easily bothered by the behaviour of others in public. The first two groups therefore don't bother me that much at all. I am generally pleased that they at least attended the performance and help validate that there is an audience. It's the third group that really bothers me. Not being the confrontational type, the best response I can usually muster is a disapproving stare, which usually yields a positive result. On the more extreme side, I have been witness to loud shushing and bellows of "Shut Up" from more confrontational audience members. This usually leaves me reeling in discomfort, but relieved by the usually positive outcome.

Ultimately, the objective of all audience members should be the same. Enjoying the experience of a live performance, which is indeed very thrilling. Needless to say, I won't be seeking a field of cows to torment with my feeble playing, rather I'll leave this to the confines of the four walls of my home music room.

If you have gotten this far, then you are clearly interested in the response of cows to classical music, the remaining two videos will therefore no doubt intrigue you further. Enjoy.

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