To Soothe a Savage Beast

Music may be created by humans for humans, but a closer look at the animal world shows that music and man-made sound can have a reach further and more profound than imagined. From a bevy zof cows who follow a spirited rendition of Lorde on a trombone to elephants delighted by—and dancing to—a Bach piece on violin, these moving videos show that sounds created by man not only affect animals, but captivate and inspire them. Indeed, they give a whole new meaning to the idea of music being a universal language.

However, the creation of captivating sound isn’t a one-way street. This extraordinary example from BBC’s The Life of Birds demonstrates that just as man listens closely to bird song, some birds are finely attuned to human sound, too. Here, the lyre bird takes man-made noises and mimics them in its natural habitat—and in effect, volleys them back at us, giving us a true reflection of sound.

Just as animals can be affected and moved by man-made sounds, so, too, can humans be mesmerized by sounds emitted by animals. When you listen to this whale sing, you experience both the deeply moving power and universality of music.

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