Primates of the human variety like many different types of music – from classical to rap to country to rock- but monkeys are a little pickier. Researchers in Bejing have recently found that monkeys were calmed by heavy metal while ignoring other kinds of music.


Several different samples of music, including Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis and Bach, were played for a group of cotton-top tamarin monkeys, but the testees were disinterested in all of them.

However, when researchers put on Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”, the monkeys responded positively and placidly – unlike most parents of metalheads and counter to the hypothesis of the scientists, who anticipated that the heavy metal track would agitate the primates.


While the Tamarins enjoyed Metallica, they were far more interested in tunes composed specifically for them by cellist David Teie. They also displayed strong reactions to melodies composed of calls of monkeys; the sample group responded with increased anxiety levels to music composed of distressed Tamarin calls, and were calmed by the long calls that signify happiness in their species.

“Monkeys interpret rising and falling tones differently than humans. Oddly, their only response to several samples of human music was a calming response to the heavy-metal band Metallica,” said lead researcher Charles Snowdon. “If we understand how we can affect their emotional states through using musical tones and aspects of our speech, maybe those of us living with companion animals can have a better relationship with them, too.”


Rachel is a writer and tutor living in Virginia. She loves learning about other cultures and thinks we’re all a little wacky.