Age: Three months
Materials and Methods
- “Lullaby” and “Nursery Rhyme” by Raymond Scott, from the Soothing Sounds for Baby album intended for infants aged 1-6 months
- Control songs: “Silent Night” by Jingle Cats; “Wind on Small Paws” by cEvin Key, industrial musician/founding member of Skinny Puppy; “Sonata in E Major” by Scarlatti, as interpreted by Wendy Carlos on The Well-tempered Synthesizer (control)
The experiment was conducted in three cycles, each cycle consisting of the Subject being exposed to two minutes (ish) of Soothing Sounds for Baby and two minutes (ish) of a control track. Sequence: Scott, Jingle Cats, Scott, cEvin Key, Scott, Wendy Carlos.
Experimenters observed the Subject from a distance of several feet, avoiding all touching and affection in order to eliminate other possible interfering variables.
Initial results to exposure of both “Lullaby” and Jingle Cats were almost identical, though data show a slightly more positive reaction to “Lullaby.” The Subject spent the first cycle squirming in that beetle-turned-on-its-back kind of way, looking alternately confused and amazed, and occasionally even cooing.
However, when cEvin Key’s industrial track “Wind on Small Paws” was initiated, the Subject became highly agitated, cried, and moved erratically. When followed by Scott’s “Nursery Rhyme,” the Subject again became calm.
Wendy Carlos’s “Sonata in E Major” proved particularly stimulating for the child’s mood, with smiling, delighted cries, and more cooing. Unfortunately, however, the experiment’s protocols were violated at this point by the Experimenters, who gave up the pretense of detached scientific observation and started touching and playing with the baby in time with the music because that Carlos track is really damn good.
Results are inconclusive and require further study. Data pointed to the Subject being calmed by Scott’s “Nursery Rhyme” after being exposed to “Wind on Small Paws,” but further tests are needed to determine whether it was Scott’s music that resulted in the Subject’s calmer temper or whether babies just really hate cEvin Key.
Positive reactions to Soothing Sounds for Baby when compared to the control song on the first cycle suggest a marginally significant effect, but the data was insufficient to draw a firm conclusion. The findings of these studies neither affirm nor contradict those of other researchers, who in this case were two random people on Twitter who said it worked. Furthermore, a larger sample size (>n=1) is needed.
However, the experiment yielded an unanticipated finding: one of the Experimenters, when writing up the results, listened to “Little Miss Echo,” a song from the 12-18 month album of Soothing Sounds for Baby. The Experimenter, aged 35, was not only soothed, but determined it to be among the most objectively beautiful pieces of pre-Moog electronic music created. Further testing of Soothing Sounds for Baby on subjects of all ages is recommended.