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The Effect of Music on Plant

Growth
Can Plants Feel?
Do plants have feelings? Can they feel pain? To the skeptic, the idea that plants have feelings and
can feel pain is ridiculous.

Plants when fed with music will grow better.


Source: greatstuff

However, based on several studies, these seem to be true. Sir Jagadis Chandra Bose, an Indian
plant physiologist and physicist, spent a lifetime researching and studying the various environmental
responses of plants and concluded that plants react to the attitude with which they were nurtured. He
also proved that plants, just like human beings, are sensitive to external environment such as light,
cold, heat and noise.
These were well documented in his books 'Response in the Living and Non-Living published in1902
and 'The Nervous Mechanism of Plants' published in 1926.

Talk to Plants
Another American botanist and horticulturist, Luther Burbank, studied in what way plant will react
when removed from their natural habitat. He talked to his plants and from his horticultural
experiments; he attributed around 20 sensory perceptions to plants. His studies were inspired by the
work of Charles Darwin 'The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication' published in
1868.

Music for Your Plant


Music for Plant Growth
If plant responded to how it was nurtured and have several sensory perceptions, will it then respond
to sound waves and vibrations created from musical sounds?
Several studies were conducted to find the effect of music on plant growth and Dr. T. C. Singh
carried out one of these earlier research.
In 1962, Dr. T. C. Singh, head of the Botany Department at Annamalia University, India,
experimented with the effect of musical sounds on the growth rate of plants and found that balsam
plants accelerated by 20% in height and 72% in biomass when exposed to music. He initially
experimented with classical music. Later, he experimented with raga music (type of music that
improvises on a set of rhythms and notes) played on flute, violin, harmonium and reena, an Indian
instrument; and found to have similar effects.
He repeated his experiment with field crops using a particular type of raga played through a
gramophone and loudspeakers. The size of crops increased to between 25 to 60% above the
regional average.

Vibrating Effect on Plants


He also experimented on the effects of vibrations caused by bare-footed dancing using BharataNatyam, India's most ancient dance style, which has no musical accompaniment, on several
flowering plants including petunias and marigold. They flowered two weeks earlier that the controlled
plants.

Effect of Classical Music on Plants


Eugene Canby, a Canadian engineer, exposed wheat to J.S. Bach's violin sonata and observed an
increased in yield by 66%. This further reinforced the works of Dr. T.C. Singh who had observed
positive results from playing classical music to plants.

The bare footed Indian Bharata Natyam dance, with leg bells
Source: Centro Culturale Khatawat, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr.com

Music Compilation for Plant Growth

Beautiful Music to Make Your Plant Grow

Seeds Feed With Music


Through his several experiments, T. C. Singh concluded that violin is one of the most effective
musical instruments for plant growth.
He also discovered that if seeds were to be fed with music and were later germinated, it would
produce plants that have more leaves, will be of greater size and have other improved
characteristics. It practically changed the plant's genetic chromosomes!

These experiments seem to conclude that plants will respond best to classical music and Indian
devotional music.

Will Rock Music have Similar Effects on Plant Growth?


In an experiment by Dorothy Retallack (1973), a student of Professor Francis Brown, she exposed
three groups of plants to various types of musical sounds.
In one group, she played the note F for an 8-hour period. In the second group, she played similar
note for three hours. The third controlled group remained in silence.
The first group died within two weeks, while the second group was much healthier than the
controlled group.
Fascinated by Dorothy's findings, two other students went on to do their own test. The experimented
plant grew towards and entwined themselves around speakers playing Hayden, Beethoven, Brahms
and Schubert.
Another plant group grew away from a speaker that played rock music. It even tried to climb a glasswalled enclosure in what appeared to be an attempt to get away from the sound.

Effect of Rock Music on Other Plants


Retallack later replicated this experiment with rock music on a variety of plants. She observed
abnormal vertical growth and smaller leaves. She also observed the plants to have similar damages
as plants that have excessive water uptake. In the experiment with marigolds, it died within two
weeks.

The Sound of Music and Plants,


The plants also leaned away from the rock music source, no matter which way they were turned.
These were documented in her book 'The Sound of Music and Plants' (1973)
Hence, rock music does not create similar beneficial growth effects as produced by classical music
or Indian devotional music.

Effect of Country Music


Plants that were exposed to country music have similar effect if it were subjected to no sound at all,
i.e. there is no abnormal growth reaction.

Effect of Jazz Music


Surprisingly, jazz tend to have beneficial effect compared to rock or country music. It produces better
and more abundant growth!

MythBusters, a science entertainment TV program, did similar experiment and concluded that plant
reacted well to any type of music whether rock, country, jazz or classical. Their experiments
however, were commented as not thoroughly conducted and highly debatable.

Get This Book if You Want More Info

The Secret Life of Plants: a Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual
Relations Between Plants and Man

The Secret Life of Plants


You can read more on the research and on the pioneers who started these experiments at 'The
Secret Life of Plants' (1973) by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird.

The book has short description of the experiments with a brief biography of these scientists. It is not
an easy read. However, if you are looking for facts, then this is the book for you.

How Does Music Affect Plant Growth


These experiments confirmed that music does affect plant growth.
How it is possible? In what way does sound affect plant growth? To explain this, let us look at the
analogy of how we receive and hear sound.
Sound is transmitted in the form of wave that travels through a medium such as air. The wave
causes the particle in this medium to vibrate.
Hence, when you switch on your radio, the sound wave will create vibration that will then cause your
ear drum to vibrate. This pressure energy will be converted to electrical energy for the brain to
translate into what you understand it as musical sounds.

Plants will Pick up the Vibration


In a similar manner, the pressure from sound wave will create vibration that will be picked up by
plants. Plant does not hear the music. It feels the vibration of the sound wave.
The protoplasm, i.e. the living matter in the form of translucent substance of which all animals and
plant cells are composed, is always in a state of perpetual movement. The vibration picked up by the
plant will speed up this protoplasmic movement in the cells. This stimulation will then affect the
system and may improve on its 'performance' such as the manufacture of more nutrients that will
give a stronger and better plant.
Different music has various sound wave frequencies and these have varying degree of pressures
and vibrations. Louder music from rock music has greater pressures that tend to have detrimental
effect on plants. Imagine the effect of strong wind on plant compared to a mild breeze, as an analogy
to the effect of strong music on plant.

How Music for Plant Growth is Put to Practice


DeMorgenzon wine estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa uses baroque music to get positive results
from the ripening process, not just on the plants, but also on the soil.
It has produced good fungi and bacteria in the soil that are vital for healthy vines. This encourages
better and stronger root development that results in vigorous growth that produces better fruits.

The 91-hectare vineyard experimented with one block exposed to baroque music and the other
block without any music. This is to allow the vineyard owner to monitor and observe any differences
in the production. This exposure to classical music started in late 2008.
The musical repertoire consisted of 2,473 pieces of classical baroque music. With this vast
collection, they can play the music nonstop for 7.5 days without repeating.
Despite the outcome of the experiment by Dorothy Retallack where plants exposed for 8-hour period
died two weeks later, DeMorgenzon wine estate played the music around the clock with no negative
result. They played the baroque music not just in the vineyard, but also in the wine cellar as well as
in the tasting room.

Vineyard in Tuscany
Another vineyard Paradiso di Frassinain Tuscany, Italy, uses classical music to get better production
from its vineyards.
They observed that vine plants mature faster when exposed to the soothing sounds of Mozart,
Vivaldi, Haydn and Mahler as compared to the controlled site.
This project to wire the vineyard for musical sound started in 2001 as an ecological way to keep
pests away. However, when they saw better and improved plants and fruits, the project continued
ever since as a 'productivity tool'.

Just like DeMorgenzon wine estate, the music is played non-stop 24 hours a day with no negative
results.

Il Paradiso di Frassina with speakers for the music therapy!


Source: mamaladama, CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr.com

Are You Still Skeptical? This Book Agrees with You!

The Informed Gardener

Are You Still Doubtful on the Effect of Music on Plant Growth?


Despite the numerous research and successful commercial usage of music to increase productivity
from plants, there are still skeptics who question the effectiveness of this method.

Research Work by Korean Scientist

It was reported in The Telegraph newspaper that scientists from National Institute of Agricultural
Biotechnology in Suwon, South Korea played classical music in rice fields, and concluded that plant
genes can "hear" and had improved yield. The research was published in August 2007 issue of New
Scientist. This finding, however, received negative comments from some quarters that cited external
factors such as wind that might have drowned out the effects for the experiment to be effective.
Others say too few samples were analyzed for it to be conclusive.

Linda Chalker-Scott's concern


Linda Chalker-Scott, in her book 'The Informed Gardener', questions the authenticity of some
common beliefs including the effect of music on plant growth.
She listed out several concerns on the work of Dorothy Retallack, as described in 'The Sound of
Music and Plants'. Some of these concerns were:

Citing the works of professors in physics and theology, but not in biology

Lack of relevant references

Poor reasoning and being bias in her expectations

Insufficient number of samplings

Poor experiment tools

Publisher that does not specialize in science published her book.

She did not publish her findings in peer-reviewed journal.

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