A cellist has composed music that cats may actually like.
Back in 2008, David Teie wrote two songs that would have been major hits on the cat-music charts, if there was such a thing. Rusty’s Ballad and Cozmo’s Air drew positive responses from 77 per cent of cats in a study published in February.
“It’s the first study showing that cats respond to music at all,” says Nick Dodman, of the Animal Behaviour Programme at
Teie, a cellist for the US National Symphony Orchestra, began writing music for animals in 2003 to tests the idea that music taps into emotions by recalling the sounds of the womb.
It’s no coincidence, says Teie, that our mother’s resting pulse is about the same pace as music we find relaxing, and that our favourite instruments, like the violin, tend to hover around the range of her voice.
After the study created a buzz, Teie realised he needed to write an album to sell.
Teie spent a long time thinking about what he needed to do to cross the species divide. The trick, he says, is to use instruments both real and virtual to create approximations of cat sounds, and then create compositions that are pleasing and novel to the animals.
"If you play an actual purr, the cats will respond to it," Teie says. “I’m trying to tickle their brains so they think, ‘It makes me feel good’,” says Teie.
He sampled a snare drum and sped it up to the pace of a purr. As he studied actual purrs, he realised each beat was in fact two sounds.
Teie then created a new instrument on his computer using an organ sound to mimic a cat’s vocal cords, used a violin to create kitten sounds, and put the parts together.
Then he realised he wanted to make the music enjoyable for humans, too, so began writing melodies that worked with the cat tunes. The result: airy, calm music that might pass for a film score. Now all he needs is to get the word out.
“Luckily for us, cats already own the internet,” Teie says.
“We reached out to the most famous internet cats, and they welcomed us.”
The Music for Cats EP will be released on Sunday. October 25.