People think of music in a variety of ways; some merely enjoy the experience of listening to a favorite song, while others love the challenge of mastering an instrument or playing composer with friends. For anyone who has a familiarity with listening to, playing, or composing music, there is a certain sense that leads us to our favorite types of music that has no real definition. Music has an unspeakable pull with dimensions, aspects and elements that touch our minds, hearts and even our souls. In describing music, however, the elemental nature of its composition is easy to overlook, yet, such a vital part of the process.
One of the most essential elements of music is the rhythm, the grounding force of the song… essentially, the “earth” of the composition. If you have ever heard a song as it goes through its various stages of composition, you can understand how there is an “earth, air, fire, water,” type of connection throughout the process. In a sense, the “air” is the inspiration of the piece, breathing life into a song, whether a ballad or a djembe solo. “Fire” is the driving passion of the music, the impetus to move it toward the crescendo, the final note or crash of the cymbal. “Water” is the emotion behind the song; the love, the angst, the celebration of life. Without the emotion, there is a shallow vibe to the inspiration or passion. Still, “earth” is the rhythm, the pulse that keeps the other three elements of music together, corralling the beauty of the song while still encouraging the gifts it bears, and even still, the rhythm is also the inspiration, the passion and the emotion of the song.
Drumming, percussion and rhythm are a connecting force in music, no matter the style or genre. These earthy elements bring stability and fullness that is hard to capture with just vocals or other instruments. Much like the pulse of the earth connects and balances our lives; rhythm in music is the balance of the song. Rhythm is what joins the other elements of music together, encouraging the notes, the harmonies and melodies to combine in a cacophony of greatness.