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18 April 2023

Music and Plants

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In the early 1970s a college student named, Dorothy Retallack, conducted some experiments on how music affected plants. For her first experiment, she played a constant tone to plants in three chambers. In the first chamber, she played the tone continuously for eight hours. In the second chamber, she played the tone intermittently for three hours at a time. In the third chamber she didn’t play the tone.

The plant in the first chamber died within fourteen days. The plants in the second chamber with the intermittent tone grew abundantly, even more than the plants in the third chamber with no tone.

For her next experiment, she used two chambers and fresh plants. In the first chamber she played music from a local rock station for three hours a day. In second chamber she played soothing “middle-of-the-road” music for the same duration each day. On the fifth day she began noticing drastic changes in the plants. In the soothing music chamber, the plants were flourishing and growing toward the speakers. In the rock music chamber the plants were withering. On the sixteenth day, the plants in the rock chamber had withered and died, while the plants in the soothing music chamber were alive and abundant.

Retallack published a book of her findings in 1973 called, The Sound of Music and Plants.

When my son was in 7th grade we conducted the music and plants experiment for a science project. We bought three identical plants. Here are the plants before the experiment:

All three plants were placed in the same light environment. They were given the same amount of water at the same time. Plant A was placed in a quiet environment. Plant B, which was the healthiest plant in the beginning, was subjected to hard rock for 8 hours per day. Plant C was subjected to soothing New Age music for 8 hours per day. We only had 5 days to conduct the experiment. Here are the same plants at the end of five days:

Plant A (No Music) grew during the five day experiment. Plant B (Hard Rock) withered and died a few days after the experiment. Plant C, which was in the soothing music environment grew the largest during the course of the experiment.