Music for Cats of All Kinds

By: Matthew Battles
September 2, 2009


We’ve been reading news today about music composed for monkeys. Most animals don’t respond to music. But is that because music per se is incomprehensible to them, or because it’s customarily created from the spectrum of humankind’s sonic world?

By scrutinizing patterns of vocalizations of tamarin monkeys and cataloguing the natural sounds to which they respond, researchers discovered that the lower-order primates have a musical sensibility tuned to the modes and rhythms of their own lifeworld.

Although the project has a scientific imprimatur, the composer behind it, David Teie, also has started a commercial venture marketing his tunes composed for cats— and has filed a patent to protect “the concept of species-specific music based on naturally occurring emotional responses to sound.”

We don’t think Teie’s intellectual property rights are being trampled by Andy Baio, although he asks a similar question. Baio, digital impresario and founder of the online funding crowdsourcer Kickstarter, wanted to translate the angular tonic calisthenics and cool vibe of Bebop into a neuronally-appropriate musical language for gamers and geeks. “What would the jazz masters sound like on a Nintendo Entertainment System,” he wondered —”Coltrane on a C-64? Mingus on Amiga?” Thus the birth of “Kind of Bloop,” in which a group of 8-bit maestros pay tribute to Miles Davis by remaking his multi-platinum album “Kind of Blue.” Now finished, the album can be downloaded in MP3 or FLAC format for a mere five dollars.

Of course, Davis’s work was already music for a cat of a certain kind; Baio’s project merely brings the music of this pioneer of Bebop, Cool, and Fusion to a species heretofore immune to the wiles of jazz.


Haw-Haw, Jazz, Kudos