For millennia, mankind has absorbed multisensory tone, rhythm, melody, and harmony from the environment. For example, there is rhythm to the patter of raindrops, rings of a tree, bugling of elk, and crackling of lightning. Additionally, mankind experiences rhythm in locomotion, the structure of muscles, the heartbeat, and the repeated patterns of DNA. By absorbing tone, rhythm, melody, and harmony multisensorily from nature for millennia mankind is intimately familiar with these phenomena and values them highly regardless of the senses through which they are perceived.


Due to their diverse traditions, various societies uniquely organize the tone, rhythm, melody, and harmony that is ingrained in mankind. In particular, many non-Western societies take the tone, rhythm, melody, and harmony that is objectively present everywhere; and subjectively organize it multisensorily. This is specifically in contrast to the Western approach of organizing tone, rhythm, melody, and harmony in one sense at a time; and which has supplanted non-Western approaches.


This work also draws from the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which is the idea that the structure of language affects its speakers’ worldview, cognitive categories, and non-linguistic behaviors. The structure of a language influences how someone (can) conceptually organize tone, rhythm, melody, and harmony, and the senses. 


In the art form called “signed music,” performers use sign language and body movement to express songs. Deaf people reap the myriad benefits of music this way. Deaf signed music connects to neuroscience because there are patterns in the brain for processing content such as tone, rhythm, melody, and harmony.  Those areas can be stimulated by any sense. In contrast to culture, the brain does not care which senses tone, rhythm, melody, and harmony are experienced through.

Kent Godfrey

Copyright © 2020 Kent Godfrey

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon