ASU students create music with a pair of rats, and it sounds pretty interesting
The song that filled the room in ASU's Stauffer Hall with psychedelic drones, atmospheric bleeps and ethereal cries wasn’t exactly jazz, or pop.
But, sonically, the composition could have been mistaken for the Beatles’ “Revolution 9” or even a more dissonant take on Bjork’s “Biophilia” album.
It sounded nice, if not interesting.
Which could be surprising considering half of the musical quartet was vermin. And we’re not talking about street punks or rat finks, but actual rodents named Gus and Izo.
The rats, pets of ASU student Andrew Sanchez, were enlisted as part of a musical project called “Ratsputin.” The project was headed up by Sanchez and Jennifer Anderson, digital culture students in Arizona State University’s School of Arts, Media and EngineeringThe School of Arts, Media and Engineering is part of both the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering..
It’s understandable if you recoiled a bit at the mention of rats making music. The public’s unfavorable perception of these rodents was the driving force behind the project.
“The general public views rodents unfavorably, and even going as far as labeling these animals as a second-class set of species. We wanted to change the perception of that,” Sanchez said. “Rats are as intelligent as any dog or cat and can be easily trained. If they’re out of the cage and they’re nice enough, they will come to me if I call them.”
And in December, they responded to the call to produce sounds for an experimental piece for their Collaborative Projects and Research class, which Sanchez says he stumbled upon by accident.