Why dance monkeys have a knack for music
Dancing monkeys, like many other primates, have a musical temperament.
And it has nothing to do with their intelligence or the ability to play music.
It’s the sound of the beat.
“They’re not very good at picking up on rhythm, but they are very good musicians, and that’s why they sing,” says Dr John Hartman, a psychologist at the University of Otago.
“So they have a rhythm that is very familiar to them, and it’s what makes them happy.”
Drumming, drumming and more drumming Drumming is the way that a group of primates uses their bodies to generate music.
That’s why the drums of the group dancing monkeys are so loud.
They make a song with their heads and the heads of other monkeys, and their heads move along the drum.
That movement causes a sound to be generated.
The sound is a complex blend of different sounds.
The human ear can pick out about 40 different kinds of sounds, but humans cannot distinguish between them all.
Dr Hartman’s team has spent years trying to understand why primates are able to create music.
One theory is that it is because they are part of a group.
When the group is working together, a group will produce songs that will help them communicate.
“If there are lots of primates together, then there will be a common language,” Dr Hartmen says.
This language is often very similar to that of humans.
“But when they’re isolated, it’s quite different.
There are lots and lots of differences between the different sounds that they produce.”
For example, the drumming monkeys may produce the sounds that we make by picking up a hammer.
But the drummers of the dance monkeys may be producing different kinds.
It is because there are so many similarities that they all sing.
So when you hear a group singing, you can’t tell which is which, Dr Hartmans says.
“There are lots more similarities between them than there are differences between them.
They have the same body language, the same sounds, and the same vocalizations.”
Sounds like songs A new study by the University at Albany in New York suggests that this group of monkeys are capable of making music.
Researchers asked the group to play a drum and make a music-like sound.
When they were done, the researchers recorded the sound in their brain.
They found that the monkeys made different sounds in response to each beat.
One group made a repetitive rhythm.
Another made a melodic one.
The final group made the complex and dynamic sounds that most humans make.
Dr Henry Czeisler, who worked on the study, says that this is the first time that researchers have seen musical sounds in the brains of these dancing monkeys.
“We’re seeing these complex and melodic patterns that most people can’t distinguish, and they are just part of their brain,” he says.
Dr Czeigler thinks that the dancing monkeys have an instinctive musical ability.
“When we play the drums, they make very fast, melodic sounds,” he explains.
“These rhythmic patterns are very similar in their ability to be able to make music, and in that they are able, in that way, to form musical patterns in the brain.”
Dr Hartmann thinks that this musical ability is a way of helping the monkeys to navigate the world.
“It allows them to make decisions and understand what’s happening around them, so that they can act accordingly,” he adds.
“You could imagine them using music to navigate between areas, so they can use different kinds to get there.”
Dr Czegler says that it could be that dancing monkeys also have musical abilities in the sense of being able to think about the world through a musical lens.
“Maybe they’re using music as a visual system,” he suggests.
“Like an image of the environment that is used to create images of the object they’re looking at, and you can use that to understand what you’re looking for, or you can look at an object through that lens, or that visual system, or whatever.”
Dr Henry adds that the musical ability could be used to communicate with other animals.
“Music is probably an important part of what they’re doing in terms of communicating with each other,” he notes.
“A lot of primates do it in the wild, but it’s not very commonly practised in captivity.”
The study was published in the journal Animal Cognition.
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