GOT RHYTHM? — 3 AN ENGINEER’S OBSERVATION

I touched on this a little in my previous post on music, GOT RHYTHM? — 2, when I mentioned that the rhythm of a steam engine can be heard in the left hand of boogie woogie when played on a piano.  And that brings up the question of just what is it that has created various musical rhythms throughout the history of music?

Obviously, I am not professional musician.  I had one music course in college, an engineering college, and I don’t remember much about it.  So, it is safe to say that I am far from a musical scholar.  That I have played the piano for nearly seventy years and have listened to all sorts music, new and old, is all that I can claim.  So, here is my generalization about the creation of musical rhythms through the part of musical history with which I am familiar.  Rhythm is about movement of the human body!

And you are now saying in your head, “Tell me something I didn’t already know.”  When you think of the movement of the human body as it relates to music, you usually think of dance, but I’m not talking about dance.  I’m talking about “transportation” — the rhythm of walking, the rhythm of riding a horse, the rhythm of riding in a horse drawn carriage, the rhythm of riding in a ship, the rhythm of riding on a train.  And I admit this is truly a generalization, but you can hear those different rhythms become commonplace in music as the modes of travel become commonplace in history.  You may have to listen to some classical music all the way up through boogie woogie, but I would argue that changes in commonplace modes of travel cause changes in commonplace musical rhythms.

Modes of travel and modes of music share a common desire…freedom!  Maybe that’s why they share rhythms.

What do you think?

(So here is a small digression related only to riding horses — another piece of history on which I am not an expert.  Military tanks are part of the  “cavalry”.  And that is because they replaced horses on the battlefield as a weapon of war.  Tanks have been around about one hundred years as the premier mobile weapon on the ground.  Prior to that, horses were the premier mobile weapon of war on the ground.  Horses on the other hand, held the job for four thousand years!  Do you think tanks will ever match that record?)

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