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According to a very old study plants that “listen” to music have a better growth than other plants.

For her next experiment, Mrs. Retallack used two chambers (and fresh plants). She placed radios in each chamber. In one chamber, the radio was tuned to a local rock station, and in the other the radio played a station that featured soothing "middle-of-the-road" music. Only three hours of music was played in each chamber. On the fifth day, she began noticing drastic changes. In the chamber with the soothing music, the plants were growing healthily and their stems were starting to bend towards the radio! In the rock chamber, half the plants had small leaves and had grown gangly, while the others were stunted. After two weeks, the plants in the soothing-music chamber were uniform in size, lush and green, and were leaning between 15 and 20 degrees toward the radio. The plants in the rock chamber had grown extremely tall and were drooping, the blooms had faded and the stems were bending away from the radio. On the sixteenth day, all but a few plants in the rock chamber were in the last stages of dying. In the other chamber, the plants were alive, beautiful, and growing abundantly.

This drives my skepticism a lot. Are there more recent studies of this relationship? Can someone have a critical analysis of whether the samples used in the study are or not questionable.

Thank you!

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Overall, you might not need an ear to listen, but a brain. Else, I won't name it 'listening' to music. You quoted the term too, I see. I think it should be clarified for the dumbs. –  user unknown Mar 16 '11 at 8:28
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2 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

The Mythbusters did an experiment on this a while back with results I found amusing:

http://mythbustersresults.com/episode23

Seven small greenhouses were set up on the M5 Industries roof. Four were set up with stereos playing endlessly looping recordings (as having the Mythbusters actually talk to the plants could contaminate the samples with their expelled carbon dioxide): Two of negative speech, two of positive speech (Kari and Scottie each made one positive and one negative soundtrack), a fifth with classical music and a sixth with intense death metal music. A seventh greenhouse, used as a control sample, had no stereo. The greenhouses with the recordings of speech grew better than the control, regardless of whether such talk was kind or angry. The plants in the greenhouse with the recording of classical music grew better, while the plants in the greenhouse with the recording of intense death metal grew best of all.

Overall, they found it to be plausable. I'm personally unaware of any other studies or experiments done in this area.

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Thank you, interesting answer. –  Benoit Mar 15 '11 at 12:30
    
You're welcome. –  NTFL Mar 15 '11 at 12:36
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And indeed the results are amusing. Still, also some additional material on the topic would be welcome (for other people coming here)! :) –  Benoit Mar 15 '11 at 12:42
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Though the lack of blinding and cross-over more than justifies being sceptical on the results. Pygmalion effect is not unlikely, even more so as the Mythbuster crew looks like they might just like death metal. It could be the location of the particular greenhouse too, though (hence cross-over) or simply random (small n). So yeah... definitively amusing, but that's it :) –  dm.skt Mar 15 '11 at 14:48
    
See Mom? death metal isn't that bad after all :P Seriously though, if death metal made the plants grow best, what I'd like to do would be do the same thing, but instead of only death metal, have some plants listen to thrash, some to grindcore, etc. and see which type of metal makes plants grow best! –  Nate Koppenhaver Jun 10 '11 at 3:42
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Article "Why Does Music Make Plants Grow Taller?" reviews some explanations:

  • Vibrations, such as sound and physical disturbances, affect plant growth.
  • Studies done by the Smithsonian and NASA show that mild vibrations increase growth in plants, while harsher, stronger vibrations have a negative effect.
  • French physicist and musician Joel Sternheimer has found that certain types of music stimulate protein production in plants, therefore increasing plant growth.
  • Some scientists suggest that music improves gardeners' moods and therefore plants grow stronger and healthier in this environment.
  • A study in Great Britain recently found that women's voices make plants grow faster than men's voices. It could be that they have a greater range of pitch and tone that affects the sound waves that hit the plant.
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This would be more valuable if you hunted down those references (which are fairly vague) and confirmed/summarised what they said, rather than relying on secondary sources. –  Oddthinking Jan 12 '13 at 0:43
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Yes can I please see the reference about gardeners moods? Pretty please? :) –  themirror Aug 12 '13 at 5:47
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