The Magic of Music

By Debby Mandat
Albany Advertiser
Down South Supplement (front page spread)

Robert Boyd describes himself as a composer, musician and therapist. He was in Albany last week to record the noisy scrub bird for a forthcoming relaxation CD. He spoke with DEBBY MANDAT about his love of music and the effect it has on people and animals.

Robert Boyd is not your typical muso. Unless you consider animals a normal part of the audience.
"I've known for years that I've been able to influence animals with music," he said.
"As a kid I would sing certain notes and see what the cat did. I probably drove the cat crazy.
"I used to perform at weddings.
"One time on a farm I realised a herd of cattle were listening to me play.
"As I became conscious of them, I experimented with chords and I realised I could make the cows go away and come back again."

Boyd said animals can be affected by music, just like humans.
The contrast was in tonal quality with different animals enjoying sounds at varying frequencies.
"Working out the frequency range is the only intellectual bit," he said.
"The rest is getting into a meditative state."

Boyd composed music for Eneabba wagyu beef farmer Lyndon Brown to relax his cattle and improve the quality of the beef. He played the music to the cows from a ghetto blaster in the car as they drove around the paddock. They then played it again in the feed lot. Out of 36 cattle, 24 went to sleep during the second half hour.

"The whole concept of music for farm animals is that it becomes part of their environment," Boyd said.
"They have social groupings.
"When an animal is removed from its happy environment, it's removed from its friends.

Travelling to the abattoir was a stressful event for the cattle as they were removed from friends, did not receive feed or water and start to smell fear and death around them.
This can have an adverse effect on the quality of the meat.
Boyd sees no conflict in providing an avenue for relaxation for farm animals even though they are bred to meet a premature end.

"I'm very philosophical about death." he said.
"It's a transition.
"I don't see death as a total and horrible end. Be it human or animal, music comforts them.
"If my music comforts a human or an animal, that's an end in itself.

Boyd has worked as a professional musician for many years.
He had his own one-man band, Hammond organ included, and has performed at various places including Albany.
Boyd believes good musos tune in to their audience.

"Most musicians have a rapport with their audience - a psychic connection," he said,
"You play tunes that people were going to ask you to play."

Boyd builds on this rapport with clients in his studio in Perth.
Working one-on-one, he eases the client into a relaxed state, establishes the psychic link and then plays his electronic keyboard.
Each performance is original and taped for the client so they have their own personalised relaxation tape.

"I don't think about it," Boyd said.
"I go into my own meditative state and just play.
"I do all my own mastering.
"My music carries all the feelings and emotions of the moment in which it was composed and performed.
"Many people say that it has soul."

Boyd has produced a number of relaxation tapes of therapeutic music and last year released a CD of relaxation and meditation music.
The CD is the first in a series of three 'images and reflections' recordings.
In the first, Boyd used a mini-disc tape recorder and a parabolic dish microphone to record bird song in Kings Park.
The CD was released in October during the Kings Park wildflower festival.
Eric McCrum (the bird man) plays the CD in the background of Ted Bull's program on regional ABC.

Boyd's next CD containing bird song recorded at Jurong bird park in Singapore will be released next month.
He is working on the third CD in the series which features bird song from the south of WA.

"I'm in Albany to record birds and nature sounds of the forest and coast," he said.

Boyd spent a few cold, windblown days at the CALM research station at Two Peoples Bay to record the noisy scrub bird.
"It's a beautiful song. The word noisy is a misnomer. The song is loud, clipped and very precise.
"It's not noisy in the sense of being hard to listen to.
"It's a bell-like warble,
"Once you hear it you recognise it again."

Boyd's CDs are available at the Tree of Life on Middleton Road.