Dancing in Harmony

“Two individual muscle cells from the heart are seen through a microscope each pulsing with its own separate rhythm. Then they move closer together. Even before they touch, there is a sudden shift in the rhythm, and they are pulsing together, perfectly synchronized.” (Gaynor 2002)

This phenomena is known in modern science as entrainment. It can be observed with 2 pendulums swinging at different speeds and then placed beside each other. After a while, these 2 pendulums will adjust and swing at the same rate. When listening to a piece of music, there is often the tapping of feet and movement of bodies according to the rhythm of the music. This is a common occurrence in people but is not a possibility for primates. “No primate tested so far—with exception of the human species—can dance or collaboratively clap to the beat of the music”. (Wikipedia, 2017)

According to Levitin, “Music breathes, speeds up, and slows down just as the real world does, and our cerebellum finds pleasure in adjusting itself to stay synchronized”. (Levitin 2008) The cerebellum is the part of the brain involved in coordination and motor movements.  

Entrainment reveals a tendency in the universe towards harmony. Rhythmic patterns appear throughout universe and music is just one of them.

“To entrain is to draw along or fall into step with a particular element. In music therapy, it refers to the way that the body’s behaviour and physiological responses synchronize to the period and phase of a sound wave form. There is impressive evidence from the fields of chronobiology, biomusicology, and music therapy, that as the tempo of a piece of music changes, the listener’s behavior comes into correspondence with that pace and moves in the same direction”.  (Gaynor 2002)

Human beings derive pleasure and is strongly attracted to synchronising itself with external rhythms.

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