Music for Dogs and Otherwise

Max is not musically inclined. You might say he cannot tell his Yoyo Ma from his Yo Mama. You might say that but I wouldn’t because it would hurt his furry little feelings.

Max Headphones
Max wearing his earphones. Haters will say this photo was staged.

Despite Max’s disinterest, most dogs apparently do respond to music. There have been a number of studies that suggest canine behavior can be affected by music. According to an article in Psychology Today titled “Do Dogs Have a Musical Sense?”, the pups were calmed by classical music and agitated by heavy metal tunes.

Apparently normal human conversation and pop music did not produce behaviors different from having no sound at all. Take that and shake it, shake it Taylor Swift.

Music dogs love

Lisa Spector (“Through a Dog’s Ear”), is a so called pioneer of the dog music industry. Yes, there is such a thing.

Lisa is a concert pianist and Juilliard graduate who discovered that music could help dogs. Nowadays, she and her team “create arrangements of classical music designed to soothe anxious dogs and cats”.

At Max’s bidding, I fired up my Amazon Prime and did a quick search on Amazon for musical choices for doggies. There are tons available and in all kinds of formats. Spotify even has its own has dog music channel. Check out some of these offerings:

Dog music

These are often original compositions, not your usual Sinatra, Shostakovitch or Insane Clown Posse, a fave of the WordPress bloggers who frequent this site. Good dog music is tailored to simple melodies with soothing lower frequencies that calm the pooches and lower heart rates. You got to love some of the playlists.

Playlist
Actual playlist.

But will a dog actually get his boogie on when offered these compositions, or is this stuff just savvy marketing targeted at owners who feel guilty for leaving their pets home alone?

What kind of music would your furball prefer to hear? Would poodles like punk? Some labs might prefer soul or R&B. Border collies would no doubt write their own concertos if they could stay still long enough.  Cats would probably like jazz but they would be too cool to admit it.

I think Max might reluctantly opt for the workout mix I use most often at the gym.

How could the Malt resist Zapp & Roger laying down that sweet syncopated funk with the now defunct talkbox lyrics.

Lock it in the pocket, brother.

But I digress.

In humans, music has the rare ability to bring back memories. Some songs simply burn deeply into our consciousness and I’m not talking about that evil earworm, the Barney the Purple Dinosaur theme.

As March 11 approaches, my mental CD player regurgitated a song that will always have an emotional impact to me.

March 11, 2011 was the date of the terrible earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown in Japan. I’ll never forget watching Japan TV with the Alpha Japanese Female and seeing the horrific events unfold.

The 9.0+ magnitude quake generated waves up to 133 feet high and killed 15,894 people, injured 6,156 and left 2,546 missing. Hundreds of thousands of people were left, not just homeless, but totally possession-less.

Japan has made a mighty effort at recovery. One tiny part of the recovery effort involves music and that’s how this post got started in my noggin.

NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization, produced the song “Hana wa Saku” (Flowers Will Bloom) to inspire public support following the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The song’s composer, lyricist, and singers of the original Japanese recording all have strong ties to the region affected by the disaster. The song rose rapidly to the top of Japan’s music charts and has stayed there. All royalties for musical composition and lyrics are being donated to the recovery effort.

The music conveys both beauty and sadness, two essential and intrinsic elements of the Japanese gestalt. The lyrics are a message from those who lost their lives to the people they left behind.

Flowers will bloom, oh yes they will,
For you, who are yet to be born someday
Flowers will bloom, oh yes they will,
For you, who are going to love someone someday.

Here is a link to the original version of the song, with the original singers, as presented by NHK with English subtitles. Take a look…it is a good set up for the next thing I want to share with you.

…..waits while you click link……..snore…….snore……Oh! There you are!

There is another version of Hana wa Saku that I find extraordinary. I recalled this one as I was watching the recent Winter Olympics.

As you’ll remember, the gold medalist in men’s figure skating was a Japanese – Yuzuru Hanyu.

hanyu
Yuzuru Hanyu

Hanyu-san is generally regarded as the greatest figure skater in history.

He is a two-time Olympic champion, a two-time World champion, four-time Grand Prix Final champion, three-time Four Continents silver medalist, and on and on. Hanyu-san has broken world records twelve times, and currently holds three different world records.

Not too shabby for a kid with asthma who has trouble catching breath after skating.

Born in nearby Sendai, Hanyu-san has been a big supporter and contributor to earthquake/tsunami relief efforts and, in 2014, he held a one night ice show, which was broadcast on 24Hour TV, to bring in donations.

For that show, Hanyu-san skated to Hana wa Saku. His performance builds slowly and persistently and becomes one of the most beautiful and moving skates that I’ve ever seen. The jump at 3:09 is exquisite.

Here, watch for yourself. The lyrics are translated a bit differently on this version compared to NHK’s. The translation is less accurate but far more poetic and, to me, more accurately reflects what the Japanese version intends to convey emotionally. The AJF concurs.

There are Vietnamese lyrics, too, if that helps. Nah, didn’t think so.

Music can be many things to people and maybe, just maybe, there is something to the notion that music means something to dogs, too. I doubt ice skating means much to them.

So, as Max would say, “Wild ride there, Dad, from dog music on Amazon to earthquakes, tsunami, Japanese songs, Olympics and ice skating. How’s the ADD been treating you? You ready for your medications yet?”

Jazz cat
Jazz cat says, “Wow, man, stream of consciousness blogging, groovy.”

Smart aleck dog. I think I’ll crank up the stereo with a medley of “Macarena” and “It’s a Small Small World.” See how he likes that kind of dog music.

35 thoughts on “Music for Dogs and Otherwise

Add yours

  1. Agreed. The jump is exquisite. I can’t imagine either of my dogs (both of which rolled around in skunk carcass this week) listening to music. That would require focus. Now tell me why Zapp & Roger have plastic tubes in their mouths.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Talkbox was popular in the 70s and early 80s and has been overtaken by advanced electronics. The most famous use may have been Peter Frampton on the “Frampton Comes Alive” album but everyone from Stevie Wonder to Jeff Beck to Steppenwolf have used the device.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the introduction to Hanyu and to that song and its associations. Watching that tsunami with your wife must have been a terrible experience.
    Following Tails Around the Ranch’s comment I could see my lot grooving to Stir it up……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No doubt I’m more sensitive to 3/11 than others just because of the AJF. To lots of people it was just a “tragic event somewhere way over there in Asia.” Because we watch Japan TV more than US TV we are reminded frequently of the disaster and its aftermath. For the next week or so, Japan TV will be packed full of stories and special reports about that dreadful day. Hana wa Saku is played constantly on Japan TV and throughout the country at all sorts of venues. It is an earworm both sad and uplifting.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Jacques likes the music that goes along with action sequences, flat loves it. If that Italian German Shepherd, Rex, is chasing someone, Jacques is in doggie heaven. Forget that snore-along DogTV stuff. Jacques likes adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I contributed to a kickstarter thing on music for cats. Still waiting while the maestro fine tunes the tunes. Cannot wait to see Parker’s reaction…or non-reaction. I cannot watch ice skating. I am way too nervous that they will fall, which takes the joy out of it for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And we’re still paying and gonna pay big time for the radoiactivity. About music, have your tried Parrot Prime? Since I’m a parrot, I can give you an exact replay
    SQUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWK

    Liked by 2 people

  6. One reason I love your blog is because I always come away from it with a new piece of knowledge I hadn’t had before! I don’t follow skating so I had never even heard of this guy but oh wow! I was captivated watching him. He made it look so effortless. I really didn’t want the performance to end. I feel compelled to share it on twitter so others can enjoy it. Thank you!
    As for music and dogs, all I can contribute is how excited my two get when I sing to them. Their little tails spin, their eyes widen and and they beg for cuddles, (or maybe they just want me to stop!?) I often play music as I do my chores and yes, dancing usually happpens too and they always run in and dance around me, standing on their hinds legs to join in.
    I am so gonna check out the Spotify lists and will play them while I’m out and see if the girls enjoy them.
    Oh and max rocks the “superstar DJ” look spectacularly!
    Wonderful post! Thanks K xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t sing to Max. Because I don’t want to be arrested for animal abuse. Thing is, I like to sing but there is nobody on earth who can tolerate it for more than 5 minutes so I confine my solo performances to the shower. I don’t dance much for the same reasons – it’s just not something one’s eyes should be subjected to. Oh well. So what music genre do Lily and the Popster like best? Surely not Celtic Woman?

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  7. That skating is beautiful and so is the music. It’s very touching.

    My favourite song is “Who let the dogs out?” – it’s a great one to bark along with! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Way to go, Clowie! A dog song about dogs! I bet you have a very deep woof that fits that tune perfectly. If Max tried it, the song would come out: “Who let the dogs out…squeak, squeak, unimpressive bark, squeak.”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Tom,
    This is a fabulous post and you did a great job introducing many of us to Japanese culture and increasing awareness of the impact of that earthquake. I have had compassionate overload this week and I’m not sure how to cry out that I’m completely overwhelmed by the suffering of others. It seems most of the population doesn’t let it touch their skin, let alone their heart.
    While I was researching my A-Z posts, I found out that the sunflower is being used to remove toxins from radioactive sites and returning them to forest habitation. Here’s a link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/z-shibata-zeshin-letters-to-dead-artists-a-z-challenge/
    Coincidentally, this post is about Japanese artist Shibata Zeshin.
    I was curious about the reference to the gerbera flower in the clips and what that referred to. Of course, I could just Google it but you explained things so well. I particularly found this useful: “beauty and sadness, two essential and intrinsic elements of the Japanese gestalt.” I’m not good at putting things in a nutshell like that.
    In terms of dogs and music, the two kelpie pups were the most vocal respondents we’ve ever had. They used to sit at my feet while I was playing the violin and howl along. They were so cute.
    I might have to start playing Rosie some Enya or such like to calm her down. See if that will stop her from pestering me with her Fetchaholism.
    Don’t like the sound of thatose dogs rolling in dead skunk. Although, do they just small as bad as any other dead animal, because I’d imagine they can’t spray them when they’re dead…Just a question from an Australian with no experience of skunks.
    Best wishes,
    Ro

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The smell of skunk is indescribable. It is indescribably bad, revolting, and nausea-inducing. For some reason I assumed you guys had skunks down there – you have every other form of murder-insect, reptile and deadly plant. So far Max has avoided being skunked and I hope it never happens because it would place a burden on the AJF to have to clean him up while I watched football and drank beer.

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