THE EARLIEST BEGINNINGS
IT is pretty clear that man's progress in the art of sound was, first howling, or making vocal his desires and feelings in simple cries, then speaking, and finally singing. But how long it took him to produce even rhythmic pulsations, we do not know. We can observe present-day savage music, and wonder how far it has developed, or whether we are listening to much the same kind of sounds as were heard in the forest primeval. But we know next to nothing of music even among the highly cultured ancient Greeks.
Rhythm comes naturally, since all creation moves to it--the stars, the seasons, all growth; man's heart throbs rhythmically, his feet march to a lilt. It is not difficult to think that his lips soon began to murmur liltingly likewise. Most savage music is strongest in the rhythmic element. There may have been a good deal of simple invention of snatches of tune, mere fragments, but nobody, probably, could put them together, or thought of trying. Perhaps there was a certain amount of copying, friendly mocking, and some rivalry in the attempted imitation of natural sounds. It does not seem unreasonable that there may have been mimics, not unskilful, of the birds and beasts--moments of relaxation in the dangerous, fierce, devil-take-the-hindmost life of primitive man. But he could have had little time for musical art, even had he conceived it. Artistry needs leisure to burgeon, and music is the most complex of the arts. Most important consideration of all: it only lives by moving, and we have to catch it as it flies.
It was a great advance when man learned how to control and direct his breath so as to shape a variety of sounds, each standing