A recent paper (co-authored by the well-known and prolific scientist Frans de Waal) describes chimpanzees' musical preferences-- and they do have preferences!
Chimps dislike strong, driving beats such as those found in much of Western music. When researchers played Japanese taiko music, which features a strong beat, chimps spent most of their time far away from the music, in the distant corners of their enclosures. But when the music was West African (from the Akan culture) or classical Indian ragas, the chimps spent more time within earshot.
It's possible that strong beats are reminiscent of threatening chimp dominance displays, which feature rhythmic pounding; hence, chimps prefer music with less frequent, less powerful beats.
No word yet on whether chimps prefer The Beatles or The Stones. Stay tuned!
That's according to a new study that tested the musical tastes of humans' primate cousins. The researchers found that while chimpanzees shun the steadily strong beats common in Western genres, they like Indian ragas and Akan tunes from West Africa.