Researchers have discovered that primates, such as monkeys and apes can communicate with humans through the use of American Sign Language, but that doesn't mean that is the only way monkeys and apes can communicate. A music production school based out of Kansas is trying to discover if primates can communicate with humans through song.
"Primates are relatively similar to humans", explained researcher Holly Graves. "It would not be all that surprising that primates processed sounds, such as music and language the same way."
The music production school has been working with a pair of primates at a local rehabilitation clinic for animals. A group of students work in shifts, visiting the primates every other day. They play a series of instrumental music that has been linked to human emotions such as anger, sadness, sorrow, joy, and love.
"It is our belief that if we keep projecting this music to the primates that they will start to know how to communicate with us through it", explained music production student Ted Sanders. "It would be like if the primate was sad, he could just tap the button to play the sad music."
After months of relatively little progression, the students at the music production school
got a big surprise. The two primates, Jack and Jill, were about to enter a courtship. When Jack went to court Jill he started playing the song that was the love song.
"We were so surprised to walk into the rehabilitation center and hear the sappy love music playing", explained Katie Fries. "We thought someone had left it on after the experiment the previous time. But no, we walked in and Jack and Jill were staring starry eyed at each other, it was funny, heartwarming, and joyful all in one."
Monkeys have been known to court each other in a similar style to human courtship. They will present food to the other primate, making loving gestures, and even become more talkative when they are interested in another primate at a mate. Researchers believe that Jack was able to use part of the music to enter into a courtship with Jill.
"It is our hope that these two primates can start to use the music we've supplied to become less aggressive in the future", explained caretaker to the primates Sheila Star. "They are here because they are overly aggressive, but if we could get them to use music in a therapeutic way, we might be able to release them back into the wild, or at least allow them to interact with other primates in the future."