, 51:7 | Cite as

Preference for consonant music over dissonant music by an infant chimpanzee

  • Tasuku SugimotoEmail author
  • Hiromi Kobayashi
  • Noritomo Nobuyoshi
  • Yasushi Kiriyama
  • Hideko Takeshita
  • Tomoyasu Nakamura
  • Kazuhide HashiyaEmail author
Original Article


It has been shown that humans prefer consonant sounds from the early stages of development. From a comparative psychological perspective, although previous studies have shown that birds and monkeys can discriminate between consonant and dissonant sounds, it remains unclear whether nonhumans have a spontaneous preference for consonant music over dissonant music as humans do. We report here that a five-month-old human-raised chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) preferred consonant music. The infant chimpanzee consistently preferred to produce, with the aid of our computerized setup, consonant versions of music for a longer duration than dissonant versions. This result suggests that the preference for consonance is not unique to humans. Further, it supports the hypothesis that one major basis of musical appreciation has some evolutionary origins.


Chimpanzee Infant Music Consonance Dissonance 



We would like to thank Sumiharu Nagumo for his help in programming and for his technical assistance. We are also grateful to the staff of Itozu-no-Mori Park for their help. Thanks are also due to the referees of the article for their constructive criticism and warm support. This study was supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), #16203034 to H.T. and #39047364 to K.H. This article is in memory of Sakura, our chimpanzee participant, who passed away in an accident on 26th Nov. 2008.

Supplementary material

Supplementary video. The video clip shows examples of the subject’s response. When the subject pulled the string, CV or DV of the music was presented for 7 s. Then, when she pulled the string again with an interval (inter-pulling interval: IPI) of less than 7 s, the same music was presented continuously (see Method for more detail). In this video clip, CV of the melody pattern A (Piano), being presented for 120 s, was automatically changed to DV at about 43 s of the video. At about 81 s, an IPI of longer than 14 s resulted in for DV being changed again to CV


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tasuku Sugimoto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hiromi Kobayashi
    • 2
  • Noritomo Nobuyoshi
    • 3
  • Yasushi Kiriyama
    • 3
  • Hideko Takeshita
    • 4
  • Tomoyasu Nakamura
    • 2
  • Kazuhide Hashiya
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Graduate School of Human-Environment StudiesKyushu UniversityHigashi-kuJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of Human-Environment StudiesKyushu UniversityHigashi-kuJapan
  3. 3.Itozu-no-Mori ParkKitakyushuJapan
  4. 4.School of Human CulturesThe University of Shiga PrefectureHikoneJapan

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