“Rhythm stirs our bodies. Tonality and melody stir our brains.” So writes Daniel J. Levitin in This Is Your Brain on Music.
I find myself wondering why he didn’t say “brains and hearts” about tonality and melody, given their powerful capacity to inspire, stir and deepen human emotion.
I know that rhythm goes right back to the heartbeat of the mother who begat us, and is central to our moving about in this life. Rhythm plays a key role in my own writing as well—each sentence has to match some internal hop-and-skip-along, and if it doesn’t, I discard it until the feel is right. If it feels clunky rhythmically, it goes.
That said, in music, I’m a melody man, which is why rap, with its 100 percent rhythm, and modern classical music, with its disdain for tone and melody, leave me mostly unmoved. They can be “interesting” intellectual exercises, but honing my intellect is not why I listen to music. I’ve got a library and a laptop loaded with Google for that purpose.
I rely ...Read More