Music appeals to virtually everyone.
From babies hearing Led Zeppelin for the first time to elderly Alzheimer’s patients “coming back” with the help of a familiar tune, music is truly a universal way for people to connect. But as it turns out, it’s not just humans who can be moved by music.
In the lovely and simple video below, a talented pianist and artist named Paul Barton plays beautiful music for a group of elephants.
The footage was shared on January 12, 2011, and was shot in the mountains of Kanchanaburi in Thailand.
In the clip, Paul plays the second movement from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 (known as Sonata Pathétique). He plays the piano in a grassy field before the assembled elephants, who have gathered to munch on some grass for breakfast.
The elephants are held by handlers, but it is clear from their expressions and ear movements that they are utterly transfixed by the music. The elephants are very old, injured, and handicapped, according to Paul.
One blind elephant named Pla-Ra is particularly taken with the soothing sounds. He faces straight ahead as Paul plays.
A documentary called Music for Elephants was made about Paul’s work with the endangered Asian elephants who love music. It was Pla-Ra and his reaction to the music that set Paul’s work in motion.
“Pla-Ra was behind the piano with a mouthful of [grass] and I started to play Beethoven,” Paul explained. “Pla-Ra was chewing, and as soon as I played the first chords, he stopped eating with stalks of [grass] protruding from each side of his mouth, and that’s the way he stayed until the end of the piece.”
More of Paul’s experiences playing music for elephants can be found on his YouTube channel.
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