Rhythm


" … the poem comes out as if missing all the spaces between the words …"

When she was in high school, The Muse played drums in a garage band. She's always had a more sensitive rhythm sense than I. As my songwriting and performing matured, I grew to appreciate rhythm as the cohering force. A song properly backbeat can hardly go wrong, while one losing its thumps can hardly sound right, however otherwise precisely I might play the notes. The rhythm, almost always much less intricate than the melody, subtly rules the whole performance without anyone hardly noticing. The drummer and the bass hold the foundation, wherever the primary and descant instruments might wander. They'd be utterly lost without them.

I believe that every activity holds a natural rhythm. Find it and, like the soaring piccolo, I'll remain at least in step, an essential congruence one mostly only notices when it's absent. Lose it and nothing I might try will seem to work.
I'm likely to try to amp up my skill level when I find my efforts too taxing. I might work harder without remembering to consider that my level of effort might qualify as fine, I've just not found the rhythm of the task yet. The Ancient Romans counseled us to Hasten Slowly at the beginning, perhaps to provide the opening for a practitioner to troll around a bit at first so they could find that natural rhythm to avoid over-taxing themselves with unregulated effort.

I mostly cannot write slowly. Though that first paragraph sometimes extrudes p-a-i-n-f-u-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y, I tend to quickly catch the natural rhythm, the cadence of the piece, which thereafter guides my three typing fingers. The finished product reeks of underlying rhythm, or not, the words hardly fitting together at all unless I'd slipped into some rhythm when laying them down. The sentences follow that cadence as they emerge, somewhat writing themselves. The proper words silently emerge with little searching on my part, smoothly slipping into the spaces conveniently provided my the rhythm I hear in my head. Those days when I cannot seem to catch the cadence, I'm (and you're) much better off if I just just give those three typing fingers the day off. Whatever the story, it'll seem like I'm telling it sideways to your ear. Mine, too.

I'm the guy who disrupts the otherwise steady rhythm of traffic by insisting upon driving no faster than the speed limit. I rarely need to pass another driver, and my passage seems to effortlessly flow while, no thanks to me and a dedicated moral minority like me, you're having to constantly pass not just semis, but cars perfectly capable of moving much faster. You hold a different rhythm for the effort than I. The Muse fancies that she drives with the flow of traffic, which seems like no flow at all, but a capricious multi-tempoed piece of experimental music also lacking coherent melody. We drive each other nuts whenever we drive each other. Both of us perhaps equally skilled, but each moving to a different rhythm line.

The old Zen adage that Until It's Fun, It's Better Left Undone might just as usefully insist that Until You Find The Rhythm, You're Better Off Standing Still, though stillness, too, holds unique rhythms. Impatience sometimes means that I haven't found and accepted the ruling rhythm of a space and time. Anxiety, too, might indicate that I've moved far ahead of the regulating cadence, dangling out into an arrhythmic nowhere, anticipating more than being present within a reassuring beat. I believe rhythm to be the great rarely considered source of much apparent cluelessness. Like a kid declaiming poetry, I too often catch myself over-focusing upon the words, upon the content, to the near exclusion of the regulating rhythm which really belongs behind every spoken verse. Then, the poem comes out as if missing all the spaces between the words, garbled and indecipherable, as if over-burdened by consonants, sounding like mumbled Russian instead of flowing French.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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