There are many speculations among researchers about effect of music on plants.If plants have a unique reaction to the ways and techniques they are nurtured and have several sensory perceptions, then how do they respond to sound waves and the vibrations created by musical sounds?
Several studies have been made to answer this question, specifically how music effects plant growth. In 1962, Dr. T. C. Singh, head of the Botany Department at India’s Annamalia University, experimented with the effect of musical sounds on the growth rate of plants. He found that balsam plants grew at an improved rate with an acceleration of 20% in height and 72% in biomass when exposed to music.
He initially experimented with classical music. Later, he experimented with raga music (improvisations on a set of rhythms and notes) played on flute, violin, harmonium, and reena, an Indian instrument. He found similar effects.Dr TC Singh then repeated the 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 cultivation.
Through his several experiments, Singh concluded that the sound of the violin has the greatest effect on plant growth. He also experimented on the effects of vibrations caused by barefoot dancing. After exposure to dancers performing Bharata-Natyam, India’s most ancient dance style, with no musical accompaniment, several flowering plants, including petunias and marigold, flowered two weeks earlier than the usual.
Sir Jagdish chandra Bose , an Indian plant physiologist and physicist, spent his lifetime researching and studying the various environmental responses of plants. He concluded that plants react to the attitude with which they are nurtured. He also found that plants are sensitive to external environment factors, such as light, cold, heat, and noise.
Bose documented his research in Response in the Living and Non-Living, published in 1902, and The Nervous Mechanism of Plants, published in 1926.
In order to conduct his research, Bose created recorders capable of detecting extremely small movements, like the quivering of injured plants.He also invented the crescograph, a tool that measures the growth of plants.From his analysis of the effects specific circumstances had on plants’ cell membranes, he hypothesized they could both feel pain and understand affection.
Luther Burbank, an American botanist and horticulturist, studied how plants react when removed from their natural habitat. He used to have conversations with his plants. Based on his horticultural experiments, he attributed approximately 20 sensory perceptions to plants. His studies were inspired by the work of Charles Darwin’s The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, published in 1868.
Effect of Rock Music on Plants
In a 1973,in an experiment conducted by Dorothy Retallack, a student of Professor Francis Brown, three groups of plants were exposed to various types of musical sounds.
For one group, Retallack played the F note for an 8-hour period. For the second group, she played a 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 Retallack’s findings, two other students went on to do their own test. Plants were then exposed to Hayden, Beethoven, Brahms, and Schubert because of which plants grew towards (and entwined themselves around) the speakers. Another plant group grew away from a speaker that played rock music. That group even tried to climb a glass-walled enclosure in what appeared to be an attempt to get away from the sound. Retallack later replicated the experiment with rock music (like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix) on a variety of plants. She observed abnormal vertical growth and smaller leaves. She also observed the plants to have damage similar to that associated with excessive water uptake. In the experiment, marigolds died within two weeks. No matter which way they were turned, plants leaned away from the rock music source. These findings were documented in Retallack’s 1973 book The Sound of Music and Plants.
Plants that are exposed to country music have the same reaction as those who are subjected to no sound at all, showing no unusual growth reaction.According to some studies, jazz music appears to have a beneficial effect, producing better and more abundant growth. The science television show Myth Busters did a similar experiment and concluded that plants reacted well to any type of music, whether rock, country, jazz, or classical.
Their experiments however, were not thoroughly conducted and are highly debatable.