Snowdon, C. T. 2021. Animal signals, music and emotional well-being. Animals 11(9), 2670.
Playing music or natural sounds to animals in human care is thought to have beneficial effects. An analysis of published papers on the use of human-based music with animals demonstrates a variety of different results even within the same species. These mixed results suggest the value of tailoring music to the sensory systems of the species involved and in selecting musical structures that are likely to produce the desired effects. I provide a conceptual framework based on the combined knowledge of the natural communication system of a species coupled with musical structures known to differentially influence emotional states, e.g., calming an agitated animal versus stimulating a lethargic animal. This new concept of animal-based music, which is based on understanding animal communication, will lead to more consistent and specific effects of music. Knowledge and appropriate use of animal-based music are important in future research and applications if we are to improve the well-being of animals that are dependent upon human care for their survival.