Music for Cats: Talking with David Teie on His New Project

Posted by Mateja Lane
the cat on the piano

A composer makes music for cats but his next album has humans in mind. 

Last year, renown composer David Teie released an album made up of songs that specifically appeal to domestic cats. Teie has researched the way animals react to music his entire life and is now putting his studies into practice by composing songs that cats would enjoy.

READ MORETalking with Composer David Teie, Creator of Music for Cats

We interviewed David last year when his first album was released. There were such positive reactions to the album, entitled Music for Cats, as a whole, but a song entitled "Lolos Air," that was designed to be enjoyable for both cats and their humans, was the favorite for many. So, taking this feedback to heart, David decided to create an entirely new album with songs that are enjoyable for both cats and humans.

The project is still in its initial Kickstarter phase.

The science behind how animals react to music is quite real, and the way cats react to sound is due to certain natural vocalizations they remember hearing as kittens.

Here is David making a composition in a way that is appealing for cats.

We caught up with David again to see how he went about creating his second album and what projects are in his future.

You've been busy! From what I understand, your first album was for cat ears only and this next Kickstarter venture wants to be pleasurable for both felines and humans. Tell me more about this new project and what drove you to start composing a new album:

"When composing music for cats, some sounds are positive, some are negative, and some are neutral. Of course you want to include the positive and avoid the negative, but the neutral sounds you could include or not, it won't matter to the cat."

"Toward the end of the creation of the first album I began to explore different ways of including music for humans among these sounds that are neutral to cats."

"The truth is, as a composer working with those kinds of restrictions was exciting and illuminating. I also find that music can be a connecting force and I like the idea of composing one music for two species."

How do your compositions enhance the relationship between cat and owner since the sounds should technically be coming from the person...How is cat music the same as human music?

"I think if the cat and the person are both enjoying the sounds at the same time and they are together that it will help them to bond."

"The way I look at it, technically the sound comes from the loudspeaker. "

How is your work going with music for other species? Last time we spoke you told me you were researching how dogs and horses reacted to certain sounds. 

"Dogs have been very difficult to figure out. A smaller percentage of their cognition is devoted to hearing compared to cats. I have produced one song that comes in five different versions for the different sized breeds and I tried it at a shelter and it seemed to have a calming effect on all the dogs that heard it."

"I have also made a set of horse headphones and sketched out the music that would be played in them that is intended to calm horses. I am within a couple of weeks of work to be able to do the first tests of the music and the headphones, but I'm afraid the concept will have to remain on the shelf until I finish this most recent music for cats and humans album."

Are you the solo artist on these albums? Would you ever consider accompaniment?

"I did play with a number of colleagues on the first album. I have not yet decided on the instrumentation for this second album, so we will wait and see about that."

What are the main instruments used on your albums?

"I am very lucky to play the cello. It has a greater range of pitches and timbres than any other instrument and is a wonderful basis for creating music for other animals."

"Most of the instruments, however, need to be invented. For these, I use acoustically recorded material as bases and then modify them with software. I believe I have 26 different purr instruments that are capable of a variety of timbres and frequencies."

Last time we talked you told me you own no cats of your own due to allergies. Any changes there? Any new pets in your life?

"I have no changes to my allergies but we do now on a bearded dragon named BB Rebozo! The Dragon is fascinating and beautiful even though not the cuddliest of creatures."

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Why do all this?

"Because of my allergies I grew up and spent most of my life indifferent toward animals. After a few years of study and research I had something like a religious conversion. I now understand these creatures are sentient, conscious, emotionally connected, and looking back at us as we look at them."

"It can be said of any given species: they don't think like we do but they do think, they don't have the same emotional responses to the same things that we do but they do have emotional responses."

"They have the same reward/punishment processes at work in their brains to make some things pleasurable and other things distasteful just as we do. If this is true, and it is, then animals are capable of appreciating beauty as long as that beauty is designed with their perception and enjoyment in mind."

"With all that in mind it pains me to think of how we take highly intelligent and curious creatures and stick them in a square room with cinderblock walls and throw in the spare tire for 'enrichment' and I realize how very far we are from recognizing that many of these creatures are much more like us than unlike us."

"It has become something of a cause of mine to bring as much beauty into the lives of as many species as possible with the time I have left in this world."

To call it passion would be an understatement.

David Teie's new album is on Kickstarter and has already reached his goal of $20,000. David clearly has some fans in the world, including Wide Open Pets. You can buy his first album on Amazon; see how your cat reacts.

A portion of what is made with both sales of his first album, and money made with his next project, will be donated to shelters and pet hospitals, specifically those that ban feline declawing.

READ MOREStudy Suggests Declawing Cats Leads to Undesirable Behavior

Back his next Kickstarter campaign project here, and make sure to look out for the next groundbreaking, species-specific music from Mr. Teie. He's changing the way we think about our pets and how they perceive the world around them, one music note at a time.

Have you listened to Music for Cats? Tell us what you and your feline friend think in the comments below. 

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Music for Cats: Talking with David Teie on His New Project