You might have more in common with the chicken on your plate than you realize. Sure, you’ve also got two thighs, two legs, two breasts, and two wings (sort of). But new research suggests that chickens might like to rock out to the same tunes you’ve got on your iPod. The kinds of sounds that humans tend to find pleasant is called consonant, which are different from from unpleasant sounds, which are called dissonant. Think of the difference between a Mozart sonata and fingernails on a chalkboard, and you’re on the right track. Consonant notes sound – to the untrained ear – as if they were a single tone, while a you can identify multiple tones within a dissonant note. This might be related to the human preference for harmonics, since in humans, the preference for consonant sounds are associated with preferences for harmonic spectra (harmonic relationships between frequencies), while dissonant sounds are not.
It might be easiest to understand by listening to these melodies. The melodies are the same, but the first one is consonant (composed of minor and major thirds) and the second one is dissonant (composed of minor seconds). Turn your speakers up:
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