Pick up any psychology book, and you'll likely come across the frequently cited "Mozart effect." That is, the idea that introducing children to music at a young age boosts their brainpower.
One Italian winemaker takes that idea one step further. Roam his small 10-acre vineyard located in the hills of Tuscany, and you'll see dozens of Bose speakers attached to grapevines playing Mozart's concertos.
The music isn't there to entertain employees. It's there as part of an ongoing experiment to determine whether sound waves have any influence on crop growth.
"When a taster comes and asks, 'Where is Mozart in the wine?' I say, you can't put the glass close to your ear and expect to hear Mozart playing his music," Giancarlo Cignozzi, owner of the vineyard Al Paradiso di Frassina, said in Italian. "Remember that Mozart is a procedure to protect and grow the vines."
To some, it may sound crazy, but not to researchers at the University of Florence. They approached Giancarlo in 2002 -- three years after he purchased the 10-acre plot of land -- to study the impact of sound waves and vibrations on crops. Since the partnership began, Giancarlo divided his land to create control and variable groups.
Preliminary research from 2006 suggests that sound-treated plants experienced more leaf growth and more efficient leaf gas exchange. Another study conducted in 2012 concluded that the sugar content and chemical makeup of the grapes were different based on whether or not they had been exposed to the music. In fact, an analysis using mass spectrometry technology revealed that the musical vines had a richer intensity of aromatic substances.
Professor Stefano Mancuso, a plant neurobiologist from the University of Florence, agrees, adding that the frequencies may disturb the parasites that harm the plant's composition.
“It is not that the grapes are capable of understanding the music and appreciating Mozart. But they are capable of appreciating the sound vibrations and the frequencies. The vines are affected by low frequencies between 100 and 400 Hz. The results are somewhat impressive with regard to the quality of the grapes. The most fundamental result is that the number of pathogenic attacks from insects have declined in a significant way.”
So why Mozart and not Bach? Giancarlo says that the hailed classical composer tended to write music at 432 Hertz, which is widely considered to be the "golden frequency."
"I started with different music styles, for example, sacred music, Gregorian choirs, barque music, even Mozart," Giancarlo added.
Federico Ricco, an agronomist at Al Paradiso di Frassina, said Giancarlo's experiment was initially met with widespread skepticism, but that's since changed.
"Some smiled or made jokes at [Giancarlo], but after many years and after researchers at the University of Florence demonstrated in scientific publications the positive effects of music and vibrations, many changed their minds."
Though some results suggest that there is a correlation between sound waves and healthier grapevines, researchers agree that the experiment is still in its infantry. They say that more studies will need to be conducted before yielding definite conclusions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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