Beauty in the Beat How rhythm shapes our lives.

Beauty in the Beat How rhythm shapes our lives.

  • Words John Ovans
  • Photograph Chiron Duong

Rhythm has great significance in music and poetry beyond simply propelling the track or verse forward. And its role varies around the world: Unlike in Western music, for example, where the melody takes precedence, West African songs are generally polyrhythmic, meaning that they layer two or more conflicting rhythms to represent the fabric of life and the dialogue of human relationships.

Our actual dialogue—language—is also governed by rhythm; everything from syllable stress to pauses and pitch help to get across what we are trying to communicate to the listener. Barack Obama, for instance, regularly employs a dramatic pause to add weight and gravitas to poignant moments in his speeches, and studies have shown that a reassuring, meditative rhythm has been proven to help to reduce anx...

The full version of this story is only available for subscribers

Want to enjoy full access? Subscribe Now

Subscribe Discover unlimited access to Kinfolk

  • Four print issues of Kinfolk magazine per year, delivered to your door, with twelve-months’ access to the entire Kinfolk.com archive and all web exclusives.

  • Receive twelve-months of all access to the entire Kinfolk.com archive and all web exclusives.

Learn More

Already a Subscriber? Login

Your cart is empty

Your Cart (0)