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Music Affecting the Plant Growth

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Introduction: Once I was searching on internet on how music affects human mind, but at that time I found something interesting, I found an article saying music affecting the growth of the plant. Then I thought if music can affect human brain then it can be true that it affects plant growth. Then I came up with the idea of performing the experiment to find the answer for my curiosity. I tried to find the answers by using chickpeas and exposing them with different genres of music for some interval of time.

I think the experiment which I have done is important because by doing this experiment I am able to prove that classical music or any other soothing music helps every living organism to grow and make them calm. But people especially teenagers; in this generation prefer listening to modern music like rock music, even though it can harm them in lot of different ways. Also the population of the world is increasing at an enormous pace and lots of people are using automobiles, which are damaging our environment in many ways, but some of them are by polluting the atmosphere and spreading noise pollution which tremendously affect the plants in many aspects.

In this extended essay I am looking at the effect of different kind of music on same species of plant. I will take Chickpeas (gram seeds) to perform a lab showing the effect of music on them. I will choose four different situations to see the effect of music on plant. These four different situations are the kinds of music that I will play on the plants. They are classical music, rock music, traffic noise and no sound. I have chosen Bach for classical, Master of Puppets for rock, and traffic noise. First I will take twenty seeds of chickpeas and divide it into four groups. Then I will germinate them placing them in cotton, soaked in water. At the same time I will write the name of the music on each group and will play the same kind of music written on the plate. I will play music on each group of plant for three hours a day. I will keep the plants that come in no sound group in an isolated room where all the conditions are similar to others but sound cannot be heard from there. Then when I will see the radicle germinating, I will place those germinated seeds in a cup, filled with soil and will play the kind of music written on the cups. Once the germinated seed have started to grow as plant I will start measuring the length of the hypocotyl/ stem. I will play the music every day and will record data every day. I will take photos on different days to show the progression in the growth of the plants.

Research Question: How does music/sound affect the growth or germination of chickpea (gram seed) plant?

Background Knowledge: In my extended essay since I am looking at the effect of music on the growth of the chickpea (gram seed) plant, thus I will first talk about the germination of the seeds and the factors affecting the growth of a plant. Germination in plants is the process in which a seed initiates to sprout and grow into a seedling under the appropriate growing circumstances. It is the development of an embryonic plant enclosed within a seed. The seed of a higher plant is a small package produced in a fruit or cone after the fusion of male and female sex cells. All entirely matured seeds contain an embryo and, in most plant species some have stores of food reserves, wrapped in a seed coat. Some plants produce varying numbers of seeds that lack embryos, such type of seeds are described as empty seeds, and never germinate.

Most seeds go through a period of dormancy where there is no active growth; during this time the seed can be securely transported to a new position and/or survive adverse climate conditions until circumstances are favourable for growth. Dormant seeds are mature seeds that do not develop because they are subject to external environmental situations that avoid the beginning of metabolic processes and cell growth. Under favourable circumstances, the seed initiates to germinate and the embryonic tissues resume growth, developing towards a seedling. Dormancy can occur in both plants and seeds. In plants dormancy is a survival strategy which enables them to survive under unfavourable conditions. In the same way dormancy in seeds refers to the strength of the seeds which helps them in tolerating the adverse period of time. Every living thing that performs dormancy has a biological clock which tells them when to slow down their activities so that they can prepare their soft tissues for dormancy. It also tells them when the right time to stop dormancy is.

General Picture of Embryo General Picture of seedling

During germination, the seed swells up and seed coat gets soften. The radicle extends and grows into a root which then provides sufficient nutrients to the seeds so that it can separate its two cotyledons. The new leaves will then come out of the seed and start providing food to the entire plant and helps in the formation of the stem and leaves, which gradually forms a complete seedling.

The most important thing in the process of germination is the presence of the suitable factors that can affect the growth of a plant in a wide range. Of all the factors affecting the plant, water (H20) is the one of the most important factors. All seeds need water for germination. Many mature seeds are very dry and need to rehydrate their cells. The intake of the water by seeds is described as imbibition, which leads to the swelling and the cracking of the seed coat. Some seeds contain a hormone that slow downs germination and water is needed to wash it out of the seed. Germination involves growth of embryo root and shoot and this also requires water.

“The metabolism rate of a dry and dormant seed is close to zero, but after the absorption of water, metabolism processes begin again, including energy release by aerobic cell respiration. Another requirement for germination is therefore a supply of oxygen” (O2) (Allot and Mindroff). Oxygen is a vital need for the germinating seed for metabolism. Oxygen is found in the soil pore spaces and if a seed is covered too deeply within the soil or the soil is covered with a lot of water then the seed can starve for the oxygen which can result in the death of the embryo. Several seeds have water-resistant seed coats that stop oxygen from entering the seed, causing a sort of physical dormancy which is broken at the time when the seed coat is sufficiently worn away so that the seed can allow the exchange of gas and water intake from the environment. Because germination involves enzyme- catalysed metabolism reactions, warmth is also required. Germination often fails at low temperatures. Seeds from different species and even seeds from the similar plant grow over a large variety of temperatures. Seeds often have a temperature range within which they will sprout, and they will not do so above or below this range.

“Another metabolic process occurring at the start of germination is synthesis of gibberellins, a plant hormone which activates the cell elongation by stimulating cell division and elongation. Several genes have to be expressed to produce the various enzymes of the metabolic pathway leading to gibberellins. This hormone stimulates mitosis and cell division in the embryo. In starchy seeds it also stimulates the production of amylase. This enzyme is needed to break down starch in the food reserves into maltose. Other enzymes convert the maltose into sucrose or glucose. Whereas starch is insoluble and immobile, sucrose and glucose can be transported from the food reserves to where are needed in the germinating seed. The embryo root and shoot need sugars for growth, together with amino acids and other substances released from the food stores. All parts of the embryo need glucose for aerobic cell respiration”. (Allot and Mindroff)

Structures of the carbohydrates/ sugars mentioned above:

Some scientific studies have proven that the germination of plant is affected by the noises played near the surrounding of that plant or seed. Plants exposed to a set frequency of sound have a tendency to germinate more rapidly, grow taller and weigh more than those kept in silence. Plants also like good, vigilant care. If you are playing the music you like for a plant, it may lead you to take better care of it. You will be more likely to cautiously water and feed the plant and make sure it is getting good light. It might look like the music helps the plant develop, when you are in fact taking better care of the plant. (Yannick Van Doorne)

A variety of experiments are a major verification of the fact that music, does in fact affect plant growth. Dorothy Retallack published a small book on this, in 1973, which was based on her experiments of the effect of the music on plant species, in a Colorado College, in Denver. She discovered that, out of the plants in three different chambers, with different circumstances, those exposed to the soothing music grew much better than the others. In one case, the plants had curved in the direction of the music playing device! These plants were blossoming green with strong and healthy stems. However, if there is a stable monotone that is being played, then it does not greatly affect plant growth. But if it is mild, classical music, specific change of rate can be observed, in the growth of plants. It is a lengthy process, though. How music affects plant growth, cannot be observed within days of the plant being exposed to music. It takes few weeks to identify the effects of music on plants.

Now talking about Chickpea, it is also known as gram seeds. This is an angiosperm. Angiosperms are known as “flowering plants”. This means the plants can produce fruit from their reproductive part. The scientific/ binomial name of chickpea is Cicer arietinum. They are dicots which mean that they possess two cotyledons. They are leguminous plants which needs less rainfall. Since they are leguminous plants, that means they have tendency to fix nitrogen in the soil and hence they are known as “nitrogen fixation plants”. They are very high in protein. They are also very low in fats. They are very high in dietary fibres and are very good source of zinc. They can be very useful for the “World Food Programme”1. Chickpeas are multiple branched plants and grow best in cool climate. Chickpeas average height is around 20 – 50 cms. These plants love have small feathery leaves on both sides of the stems. Chickpeas are a good solution for curing diabetes. Chickpeas boost the usage of glucose (one of the sugars mentioned above) which manages the insulin level in the body and help in controlling diabetes.

The diagram below shows the germination of a common beans seed (dicot seed):

Materials required:

* 20 same species of chickpea (gram seed)

* Cotton to provide moisture to the seeds.

* 3 different kind of sounds/ noises (i.e. classical, rock, traffic- one from each category)

* Measuring scale/ Ruler to measure the length of the plant.

* Water to maintain the moisture

* Speakers

* 4 watch glass/ plastic plates

* Headphone to protect your ears from high frequency sounds.

* Tweezers to hold the chickpea (gram seed).

* 20 plastic cups to place the seeds in when the seeds have germinated.

* Garden soil (for filling the cup)

* Spatula to take soil from the garden and fill it in the cups.

* Safety goggles to protect your eyes from dirt while digging soil.

* Gloves to protect your hands from germs and sharpen objects.

* Timer to play music for fixed period of time.


* Independent Variable- Different kinds of music/ sound (i.e. classical, rock, traffic and no sound).

* Dependent variable- Germination of chickpea seeds (gram seeds) to a plant.

* Control-

1. Same species of chickpea (gram seed). This will help to see the exact increase in the size of the seeds.

2. Same amount of moisture. If we put different amount of water, it will affect the growth of plant. Same amount of moisture in each plant will help in controlling the growth in each plant.

3. Same amount of climatic condition such as sunlight. This will again help in making the growth of plant similar.

4. The loudness of the sound played near the plant should be same. This will help to control and see the growth of plant at different situations.

5. Sound/ noise should be played for same interval of time on each plant. This will help us to know how long does a plant take to grow if the music/ sound are played for a certain amount of time. At the same time this will also tell us about the effect of sound/ noise on chickpea (gram seed).

6. Soil taken to burry the chickpea (gram seed) should be the same i.e. should be taken from the same area. This will help in controlling the errors and providing equal nutrients to all seeds.

7. The depth of the seed buried under the soil should be around 4cm. This will help us to reduce the errors because if the seeds are buried too deeply then their will be a shortage of oxygen supply to the seed.

8. All the plastic cups must have equal size and capacity. This will also help us in reducing uncertainties because if one cup is smaller than the other, then the amount of the nutrients will be different.

9. Before sowing any seed you should prepare the soil first. Soil must be termite free. This will prevent seed from being eaten by the termites. If soil has termites, then you should expose the soil in the sunlight for two- three days or use anti- termite.

10. To make the soil fertile we should add natural manure before sowing the seeds. This will increase the fertility and will help to increase the nutrients of the soil.

11. Soil should be raked before sowing the seeds and weeds should be removed from the soil. This will allow air to enter the soil.

12. You should moist the soil first before sowing the seeds. This will help seeds to sprout properly and fast.

Hypothesis: I believe that plants will grow up more rapidly with the help of classical music followed by no sound, rock music and traffic sound. I think classical music will help the plant to grow faster because classical music creates a soothing effect which produces a hormone in plant cells that increases the height and weight of the plant. The vibrations or waves produced by this type of music are also responsible for the growth of the plants. At the same time rock music will hinder the plant’s growth because sounds, with higher frequencies, in the form of physical waves have the tendency to collide with the objects, such as plants or plant cells, and damage them. The collisions of sound with cells are so hard that it will destroy the cell that helps in the growth. Since the rock music is very loud and had a harmful effect on cells and thus the growth of plants is affected.


1. Wear your safety kit (safety goggles and gloves).

2. Take 20 seeds of same species. Try to take chickpea (gram seed) of same weight and length. This will help you to reduce uncertainties about the kind of chickpea (gram seed).

3. Take 4 plastic plates/ watch glass and place cotton on each plate.

4. Pour about 50ml of water on each of the plate and then place 5 chickpea (gram seed) on the cotton of each plate/ watch glass.

5. Label each plate/ watch glass by classical, rock, traffic or no sound.

6. Place all the plates with the seeds in separate rooms and provide them with equivalent biotic and abiotic factors. Do not forget to put equal amount of water in the plates on a regular basis so that the cotton does not get dry.

7. Now play that kind of sound whose name is written on the plate for 3 hours near the plate.

8. Now wait for the chickpea (gram seed) to germinate (until the radicle is visible).

9. Take the plastic cups and fill them with garden soil. Remember to prepare the soil and follow the steps as told in variables 9- 12 if necessary.

10. Once the seeds have germinated, take all the seeds and bury them (4 cm inside the soil) in the cup filled with soil and water them equally on a regular basis. Make sure that you bury only one seed in a cup.

11. Label the cups with the appropriate names and place the same seed in the cup that you took out of the plate with the matching name.

12. Place them in separate rooms with similar biotic and abiotic conditions.

13. Continue playing the song for 10- 20 days and make conclusions explaining your hypothesis and what did you get in your lab.

14. Make observations of your seeds/plants daily and record the length of the epicotyl (as shown in the diagram above) grown through the seed. Make a chart and if possible then take pictures of the seed and plants as required.

15. Give support to the plants using a thin stick if required. If a plant is bend once, all its energy is used in straightening it back. So in order to avoid that you should give support to your plant and help them to grow straight.

Now the observations made and data collected every day is shown below:

Day 1:

=> All the seeds are placed in cotton soaked in water in a plastic plate or watch glass.

Observations (after several hours):

All the seeds have swollen up and have changed their colours from dark brown to light brown.

Day 2:


All the seeds are swollen and the radicle is visible.

The pictures are shown of seeds on day 2 is shown below:

Day 3:

=> Take the seeds and bury them in cup filled with cups. Remember to bury those 4 cm in depth from the top of the soil. Also remember to prepare soil as mentioned in variable above.


The radicle of the seed has grown a little longer in length on each category of plant.

Day 4:


The leaves foliage is seen in each plant that fall in each four categories mentioned above.

Conclusion: Different types of music do affect the growth of the plant in different manner. I checked this out by performing an experiment. In this experiment, I took 20 beans seed and split them into 4 parts. I played 3 different types of music i.e. Rock, Classical and Traffic sound for 3 groups whereas I left the last group in silence. I recorded my observations for 2 weeks. After completing this experiment, I found out that my hypothesis was almost correct because I thought that plants that will grow in the presence of classical music will grow the best followed by no sound, rock music and traffic but the results were not exactly the way I thought. My prediction was correct about the classical music and traffic music but I was totally wrong about no sound and rock music.

Rock music was the second best in helping the plants to grow whereas No Sound came in the third place. By this experiment I can conclude that in future there will a shortage of plants because right now, the increase in the production of automobiles are going higher and higher which means that there will definitely be an increase in both air pollution and noise pollution which will decrease the amount of nutrients that are very necessary for the plant leading to put the trees to an extinct. Increase in the amount of toxic substances in atmosphere like nitrous acid/ sulphuric acid, damages the plant in many ways. And as we know by performing the experiment that noise pollution will hinder the growth of the plant by disturbing the movement n cells of the plant. This also tells us that if traffic sound can harm plants then it should also affect us in the same manner. The sounds with larger frequency and loudness (traffic sound and rock music) can make our brain unstable and disturbed, which can result in major brain and hearing problems. Also this experiment can help farmers in growing highly nutritional, good quality and sufficient crops which can again help in the WFP. We can produce a good yield of crops in very less period of time and help those people who are suffering from famine.

Evaluation: In this experiment, I made a little mistake. My mistake was that when I used to water the plants, I forgot to measure the amount of water I was pouring into the plants. I think this would have changed my results completely because water provides nutrition to the plants and because I was not measuring the amount of water I was pouring, I do not know exactly the amount of water each plant was getting. This could be improved by measuring the amount of water before pouring it into soil. By doing so we can assume that each plant is getting equal amount of nutrients. Also while recording the length of the plants I was using a ruler which I think could have improved by using a thread because we cannot measure the exact length of any object with a ruler if there are any curves in it whereas threads can be twisted which will be very effective in measuring the curves in the plants.

To make this experiment even better, I could have played the music for more weeks so that I can get a better conclusion. Also, I think that once the seeds were grown into plants, I could have transplanted them into the soil because the cups that were filled with soil did not contain as much nutrients as the soil. Also I could have tested the pH level of the soil because if the pH of the soil is not suitable for the beans then the plant would not grow properly. People can also think that the bad growth of the plant is because of the sound but in reality it is because of the soil.

Another way to improve this experiment is by controlling the amount of air temperature. I forgot to maintain the room temperature constant; this might affect the growth of the plants, and might change the values of the length of the plants obtained, which might have affected average growth of the plants. In order to improve this I should have kept the temperature constant which would have helped me in getting more pr�cised results. Many think that air temperature does not play an important role in germination, but for plant to grow properly they need constant temperature and proper atmosphere. Plants will die if there is extreme temperature (or vast difference between the temperature of day and night). In order to protect them we should always try to maintain the temperature same while plant germination.

I think I could have extended this experiment by finding the biomass of the plant because by finding the biomass, I can compare the amount of biomass produced by each category which can help me in understanding that which type of music can produce the most biomass which will again be helpful in WFP.


10SeedGermination-dicot.jpg. Digital image. Google. Web. <http://www.google.com/imgres?q=10SeedGermination-dicot.jpg&hl=en&sa=X&biw=1280&bih=685&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=jllEr5ibrcr-pM:&imgrefurl=http://bio1903.nicerweb.com/Locked/media/ch38/germination-dicot.html&docid=ZZqi1NmwCboWRM&imgurl=http://bio1903.nicerweb.com/Locked/media/ch38/38_10SeedGermination-dicot.jpg&w=830&h=546&ei=z66pTuyqL8jDtAa7i7XTDQ&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=184&vpy=165&dur=2460&hovh=182&hovw=277&tx=79&ty=101&sig=113195077274365451538&page=1&tbnh=135&tbnw=205&start=0&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0>.

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What Effect Does Music Have On Plant Growth

Plant Propagation. Digital image. Google. Web. <http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?q=embryo+of+seeds&hl=en&biw=1280&bih=685&tbm=isch&tbnid=RWLPj0XlykAESM:&imgrefurl=http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPrinterFriendlyPub.aspx%3FP%3Dmg3&docid=o2akceRw3XU_EM&w=180&h=161&ei=SE1qTs-cO5Hwsgbc6qHrBA&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=491&page=3&tbnh=128&tbnw=144&start=33&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:33&tx=47&ty=57>.

1 World Food Programme (WFP), established on 1960, is an amazing project which only thinks about the benefits of humans and plants. The main objective of the World Food Project is to grow sustainable and healthy crops without spending too much money and ensure that appropriate food products are available to the beneficiaries in a timely and cost-efficient manner so that the hunger of the world can put to an end and every single person in this world can eat healthy so that they can stay healthy and live long.

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