Rhythm is basic to synchrony. My favorite story in the book is called "Synchrony and Group Cohesion". The basic principle of rhythm and synchrony is illustrated by a film of children on a playground. Watching the film carefully several times, Hall could detect a very active little girl who seemed to stand out from the rest. She was all over the place. Concentrating on that girl, Hall and his students noticed that whenever she was near a cluster of children the members of that group were in sync not only with each other but with her. This girl, with her skipping and dancing and twirling, was actually orchestrating movements of the entire playground. There was something about the pattern of movement which translated into a beat - and when playing a piece of rock music together with the film, not a beat or a frame of the film was out of sync.
I was reminded of this story when I saw the video @jchernandezjazz posted on Twitter this week. "Elpida", filmed in Grenoble France in March 2011, is a short black and white video depicting children playing on a playground, accompanied by a wonderful saxophone. (Author of both video and music is the very talented, only 16years old Marion Germa, @mariongerma on Twitter.) Are these the children Hall was writing about? Is there a girl or a little boy being the rhythmic center of the group?
rhythm is playing, rhythm is dancing
Muhammad Ali was a man with lots of rhythm is his prime days. I love the history of boxing, the one that was filmed in black and white, just as I love Jazz. Its' 40 years these days that the "Fight of the Century" took place in New York's Madison Square Garden, pitching Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier. It was an epic fight of Good versus Evil. Muhammad Ali had refused to sign up for the war in Vietnam, he went to prison for that and was stripped off his crown as heavyweight world champion. He was the good man. Opposite him was Smokin' Joe Frazier, a decent, hardworking, law abiding, church going family man, who personified patriotism and obedience. Frank Sinatra was ringside, taking picture for Life Magazine, Burt Lancaster commented for tv. It was fighting, it was rhythm, 15 rounds of skipping, dancing and twirling, of pounding and ducking, and in the end it was Frazier who prevailed. He was the winner but the public loved Ali.
rhythm is fighting
For Edward T. Hall the human species lives in a sea of rhythm, ineffable to some, but quite tangible to others. The rhythm of a people may be the most binding of all forces that hold human beings together. Where there is dancing and where there is fighting, there is rhythm. I feel this rhythm in all its aspects, in all its combinations, when looking at and hoping for the revolutions that are happening in the Arab world as we write and as we read. The best example for this may have been, and still are!, the Egyptians gathering on Cairo's Tahrir Square day after day, night after night, united in their aspirations for a better Egypt where people are heard, where the people have a role. Rhythm is Freedom, Rhythm is Magic.
rhythm is freedom!
by the way: I know the girl Hall was referring to. She is a woman now and used to work in my office. Wherever she went there was synchrony and people felt good. She had that inner rhythm and she shared it with everybody around her.