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innumerable examples of this association, and in the march music of
soldiers and the heaving and hoisting songs of sailors we have instances
that have universally persisted into civilization, although in
civilization the rhythmical stimulation of work, physiologically sound as
is its basis, tends to die out. Even in the laboratory the influence of
simple rhythm in increasing the output of work may be demonstrated; and
Fere found with the ergograph that a rhythmical grouping of the movements
caused an increase of energy which often more than compensated the loss of
time caused by the rhythm.
Rhythm is the most primitive element of music, and the most fundamental.
Wallaschek, in his book on _Primitive Music_, and most other writers on
the subject are agreed on this point. "Rhythm," remarks an American
anthropologist, "naturally precedes the development of any fine
perception of differences in pitch, of time-quality, or of tonality.
Almost, if not all, Indian songs," he adds, "are as strictly developed out
of modified repetitions of a motive as are the movements of a Mozart or a
Beethoven symphony." "In all primitive music," asserts Alice C.
Fletcher, "rhythm is strongly developed. The pulsations of the drum
and the sharp crash of the rattles are thrown against each other and
against the voice, so that it would seem that the pleasure derived by the
performers lay not so much in the tonality of the song as in the measured
sounds arrayed in contesting rhythm, and which by their clash start the
nerves and spur the body to action, for the voice which alone carries the
tone is often subordinated and treated as an additional instrument." Groos
points out that a melody gives us the essential impression of a _voice
that dances_; it is a translation of spatial movement into sound, and,
as we shall see, its physiological action on the organism is a reflection
of that which, as we have elsewhere found, dancing itself produces,
and thus resembles that produced by the sight of movement. Dancing, music,
and poetry were primitively so closely allied as to be almost identical;
they were still inseparable among the early Greeks. The refrains in our
English ballads indicate the dancer's part in them. The technical use of
the word "foot" in metrical matters still persists to show that a poem is
fundamentally a dance.
Aristotle seems to have first suggested that rhythm and melodies
are motions, as actions are motions, and therefore signs of
feeling. "All melodies are motions," says Helmholtz. "Graceful
rapidity, gravel procession, quiet advance, wild leaping, all
these different characters of motion and a thousand others can be
represented by successions of tones. And as music expresses these
motions it gives an expression also to those mental conditions
which naturally evoke similar motions, whether of the body and
the voice, or of the thinking and feeling principle itself."
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