31. THE VOICE IS THE CRADLE OF THE LANGUAGE OF MUSIC. In The Beginning, There Was The Word…
“The human throat perceives sounds in just the same way that human hearing does.”
In The Beginning, There Was The Word…
Thought started from a word. Speech is the most important apparatus to human thought. We learn to think when we are given the names of objects and events. An object doesn’t exist in our conscious world until we have a name for it. While learning to talk, we constantly speak out loud in order to hear our voice and evaluate how precisely it imitates the words of adults. Gradually, we learn to carry on an internal dialogue, which trains us to formulate our thoughts. And only then do we begin to start to think on an abstract level.
The human throat is one of the most important systems of organs to our perception. “What is your name?” We ask a stranger, and repeat his name out loud in order to memorize it. In order to be understood and remembered, everything must have its own name, and we must repeat it out loud.
First speech was developed in the throat, and then it spontaneously drew out the language of music. Before anything else, people learned to form words from vowels and consonants. Consonants became the bearers of meaning, while vowels carried the word’s emotional, tonal decoration. Arabic, one of the most ancient languages of the world has just this structure. In Arabic, words are written with consonants only, with vowels added in the form of supplementary marks.
This principle still affects all languages, and this can be easily proved. Write out any sentence without including vowels:
_t _sn’t th_t d_ff_c_lt t_ r__d _nd nd _rst_nd w_rds w_th_ _t v_ _ ls.
Yet, without the consonants, it is much harder to get the message:
I_ i__’_ __a_ _i_ _i _ u __ _o _ea_ a__ u___e___a__ _o____ _i__ou_ _ow__.
As you can see, the idea of the consonants is quite clear, but it is absolutely impossible to guess at it with only the vowels! Vowels are the voice’s very own notes. In speech, they are used for tying consonants together, for voicing words, and most importantly, they express the intonation, melody, and emotion of speech. In conversational speech, we use a limited diapason – this keeps the throat from getting tired. In most Western languages, giving certain words a certain pitch isn’t necessary – consonants carry the code of the thought, and thus adequately distinguish most words from one another.
But the vowels can be sung out. Singing them out, one can communicate with oneself, with nature, and express oneself among fellow beings. At some point, humans started adding a new quality to vowels – a definite pitch and length. That is when music appeared.
Why did people need to sing? There exists a number of theories, and most of them are pragmatic. Some think that singing was used as a roll-call between hunters when chasing the mammoths. Others think that singing was a way to keep from getting lost while looking for roots and berries. Another group is sure that people sang to express their condition. I think that people sang so that they wouldn’t feel quite so alone and weak, facing the world around them. Only the sound of a set pitch, a musical sound, can connect everyone’s voices and songs in unison. This gives a strong feeling of communion and confluence with others. As a part of something more significant, a person feels stronger.
 For more information, read “The Origins of Music” by Nils L. Wallin, Björn Merker, Steven Brown