Goldfish Recognizes Classical from Modern Music, Study Says

November 12, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. distinguish [dih-STING-gwish] (v.) – to detect using the senses
Example: You can easily distinguish the difference between modern and classical music by simply listening to it.

2. genre [ZHAHN-ruh] (n.) – a specific style of literary work or music
Example: Charlie compiled all his CDs according to genre.

3. nibble [NIB-uh l] (v.) – to bite in small pieces
Example: The fish nibbled on the pieces of food inside the aquarium.

4. auditory [AW-di-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee-] (adj.) – relating to the process or sense of hearing
Example: She can’t hear me properly because of her damaged auditory nerve.

5. composition [kom-puh-ZISH-uh n] (n.) – a long and complex written piece of music
Example: Her musical composition sounds very relaxing.


Read the text below.
A new study found that a goldfish does not only listen to classical music genre but can also recognize one composer from another.

The research has described how the trained goldfish was able to distinguish the compositions between Johann Sebastian Bach [bahkh] and Igor Stravinsky.

The researchers trained a school of fish to nibble the food-filled ball while Bach’s music was playing. This method allowed the fish to relate the music with the reward of food. But when the researchers played Stravinsky’s music, the fish did not nibble on the food ball. This result may imply that a goldfish can indeed identify a specific music from a composer.

After the experiment with the food-filled ball, the researchers tested if the goldfish preferred one kind of music over another. They were able to answer this question by measuring the time spent by the fish on two opposite sides of the tank, Bach’s composition playing on one side while Stravinsky’s composition on the other. At the end of the experiment, the school of goldfish did not seem to have any preference.

This new study supports earlier researches suggesting that some animals can distinguish classical music from more contemporary music, as represented by Bach and Stravinsky respectively. Among these animals are Java sparrows, rats, and pigeons.

Dr. Shinozuka, author of the study, believes that the study may be associated with the need for auditory learning for communication through developmental processes such as language and song.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think that it is really possible for a goldfish to recognize music? Why or why not?
·         How do you think the results of this study can be useful in the Science field?

Discussion B

·         What is the importance of music in people’s lives? Please explain briefly.
·         Which do you think is more appealing, classical or modern music? Why do you say so?


November 12, 2013