How Important is Rhythm in the World of Music?

News Sep 19, 2021

Music is the art of arranged sounds in particular time to create a tune through the components of harmony, melody, rhythm, timbre, and tone. It is among the universal human cultural norms of all cultures. The history of music goes far back into our prehistoric times in some form or another.


According to Plato (the famous Greek philosopher and teacher of philosophy), music is the soul of a society. Plato thought that all great composers are famous because they create beautiful melodies that stir the emotions as well as provide a necessary context to tell a story. In his view, music expresses human emotions in a purely aesthetic sense and thus plays a vital role in the social life of a society. He claimed that the most perfect forms of music can be found in the best philosophical treatises of ancient Greece.

Aristotle (the most famous Greek thinker and teacher of physics) went even further by claiming that music often plays an important part in physical therapy. According to Aristotle, certain beats or rhythms make body and mind relax. They are said to be produced by the soul and not the mind or ears. Music can also be a good cure for certain diseases. It can be used to treat headaches, migraines, depression, fatigue, high blood pressure, inflammation, Parkinson’s disease, stress, sleep disorders, epilepsy and many more. And, interestingly enough, according to Aristotle, music often finds a parallel in the actions of animals.

Aristotle was not the only famous Greek philosopher to suggest that music has therapeutic value. Plato was a schoolmate of Aristotle and he also shared some of his beliefs. Later during the 3rd century BCE, Greek naturalist Ptolemy made important observations on the connection between rhythm, pitch, and bodily motion and the occurrence of sacred music in the temples of ancient Greece and Rome.

Early church fathers and church councils (which were often more focused on behavior than theory) also took a keen interest in the link between rhythm, pitch and musical instruments. Synod refers to a medieval Latin term which referred to a meeting of church leaders to discuss biblical truths. The synod discusses themes like grace and faith while hymn is a word relating to worship. Both hymns and canticles refer to sacred music.

In addition, during the Middle Ages, influential composers like Joann Bedell, Robert legg, Nicholas Roerich, Arnold Schoenberg and Oliver Onions wrote music with a heavy emphasis on rhythm and pitch. Joann Bedell, for instance, wrote a lot about the relation between heavenly bodies and earthly instruments. She believed that all things in creation have their own rhythms and pitches and considered human voices to be one of these heavenly sounds. This is the common background of many classical composers including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven and Julian Bream.