We, at DeMorgenzon Estate, believe that music can influence the growth of a vine and the fruit it bears. We have played Baroque, and early Classical, music to our growing vines in the vineyard, in the winery and in the cellar all day, and every day, for the past seven years.
Do the vines ‘listen’ to the music and does it ‘influence’ them? I’m not suggesting that one gnarled (and perhaps slightly grumpy) old Chenin Blanc vine leans across to its neighbor and hisses “Haven’t we had enough of this Scarlatti already? Can’t he give us more Albinoni? If Albinoni was good enough for The Doors why not for us?”
I love Baroque, Classical and Romantic music – and despite his bombast, am wild about Beethoven (it was ‘A Clockwork Orange’ that first ripped the scales from my ears). I also like Johnny Cash, the Stones and Neil Diamond (My wife loves Leonard Cohen but his music, I fear, would delay ripening until well into winter). However, we don’t play their music in the vineyard. It’s not what I enjoy that counts, but rather what I believe will be most beneficial to the vines.
Whilst I hadn’t really given much thought to ‘pairing’ wine with music in a recital, I believe that music influences the way wine tastes and smells. My question is that while music can influence how people perceive a particular wine or type of wine, can music affect a growing plant?
RESEARCH ON THE EFFECTS OF SOUND AND MUSIC
The effects of sound and music on plant growth is an intriguing subject and has fascinated many a horticulturist over the years. Although not much scientific investigation has been undertaken, a handful of research papers have reported on the effects of sound energy on plant growth. All have reported positive results from the playing of harmonious or melodious music to plants.
There are even plants that clearly acknowledge and respond to music. The Telegraph Plant (Semaphore Plant or Dancing Grass) is a type of leguminous shrub whose leaves ‘dance’ rhythmically to harmonious music. It does not show any response if blown or caressed manually.
In 1973 a book called The Sound of Music and Plants, detailing experiments conducted at the Colorado Woman’s College in Denver, determined that playing soothing music to plants made them grow faster, more vigorously and healthier.
DOROTHY RETALLACK’S RESEARCH
Research has been carried out since the first commercial experiment in 1972 by Charnoe, who studied the effects of sound waves on the budding of barley. Subsequently, Carlson (in the USA) treated various crops and vegetables with high frequency sound waves (Spillane, 1991), and the Xian Tuo company in Osaka, Japan, has treated vegetables with classical music (Xiao Hai, 1990).
Reports of the growth of many record-breaking fruits have also been attributed to music. For example, French scientists cultivated a 2 kilogram tomato, and British scientists produced a 13 kilogram beet (Hou and Mooneyham, 1999). Recent scientific studies undertaken at Bilkent Uiversity in Turkey, in cooperation with the Azerbaijan Government Music Academy, found that classical music has positive effects on root growth.