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.
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:
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.
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.
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-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?”