Crickets and frogs are known to try to out-chirp or out-croak each other in an effort to win the attention of females.
But it turns out the same might be true of humans.
That’s because new research suggests that male choristers boost their vocals when they spot women in the audience.
Recordings of an elite boys’ choir once directed by Johann Sebastian Bach in Leipzig, Germany, were analysed by experts at Aarhus University in Denmark, as well as institutes in Australia, Italy and Germany.
They found that the more physically mature boys in the group sang with greater gusto when girls were watching, as opposed to when the audience was made up solely of males.
New research suggests that male choristers boost their vocals when they spot women in the audience. Pictured: Italian operatic tenor, Luciano Pavarotti
Higher energy: The older choristers changed the way they sang to ‘add an attractive ringing quality to the voice’, the researchers said (pictured), which is similar to how frogs and crickets behave when courting
The older choristers changed the way they sang to ‘add an attractive ringing quality to the voice’, the researchers said, which is similar to how frogs and crickets behave when courting.
The creatures use a technique known as collective broadcast, which involves working together to co-ordinate their chirps and croaks in a chorus to attract females.
Once they arrive, the males then compete with each other in the croaking and chirping stakes to be seen as the most desirable.
The experts involved in the new study think that a similar group singing approach may have evolved in humans as a way for men to work together to attract females, before they too competed to project their voices.
This doesn’t mean singing more loudly – because that would destroy the harmony in the choir – but rather with greater clarity.
‘The end result is a brilliant ringing quality to the voice which makes it carry further’, said lead author Dr Peter Keller.
It is also evidence that cooperation and competitiveness can exist alongside each other, the researchers added, in that the group of singers are working together to attract females but also trying to make themselves the most appealing to a prospective mate.
‘Human chorusing is a flexible form of social communicative behaviour that allows simultaneous group cohesion and sexually motivated competition,’ they said.
The findings could also help to explain why Pavarotti was such a ladies man.
According to the researchers, the combination of low-pitched voices in the high-frequency band of the vocal spectrum – known as the ‘singer’s formant’ – makes a person’s voice sound more attractive.
The reason, Dr Keller explains, is that ‘low pitched voices are perceived to be dominant, powerful, and attractive’, while human hearing is particularly sensitive to frequencies in the singer’s formant range.
The findings could also help to explain why Pavarotti was such a ladies man. According to the researchers, the combination of low-pitched voices in the high-frequency band of the vocal spectrum – known as the ‘singer’s formant’ – makes a person’s voice sound more attractive
Similarities: Crickets and frogs are known to try to out-chirp or out-croak each other in an effort to win the attention of females (stock image)
‘So the basses may be producing the best of both worlds from a female listener’s perspective,’ he added.
In the study, recordings of the St Thomas Choir performing for two audiences – one male-only and the other with women watching – were played to 679 women and 481 men.
One of the things the researchers wanted to see was if women preferred the operatic, ringing sound of some men’s voices.
They discovered that 53 per cent did — which, although not a huge majority, suggests it is more popular with women.
Men asked about the same music samples had no preference for the operatic singing.
Experts believe being able to sing in this way suggests you have a flexible, controlled voice — so generally may seem more healthy.
Evolutionarily, women prefer healthy-seeming men as romantic prospects.
The study was published in the journal Biology Letters.
Listening to melancholy music can improve a person’s emotional well-being in times of loneliness and distress.
Sad songs, in particular, can stir up a mixture of complex and ‘partially positive’ emotions, including nostalgia, peacefulness, tenderness, transcendence and wonder.
Upbeat music that you’re not consciously aware that you’re listening to typically have no affect on how you feel.
But actively seeking out happiness through music can sometimes improve your health and relationship satisfaction.
Research has also found that listening to fast-paced, energetic music can increase the perceived spiciness of food by up to ten per cent.