Rhythm is Not Just Man’s Conquest

Rhythm is in the heart of man,

We play with it from when we’re young;

It lays down roots and helps us plan,

Bunga bung bung, bunga bung bung.

 

Without it we could never speak,

And we’d be beasts without a tongue;

Reduced to grunts and the odd shriek,

Bunga bung bung, bunga bung bung.

 

Whilst making sounds at those we meet

Is simple, it is lots of fun;

Far harder is to match their beat,

Bunga bung bung, bunga bung bung.

 

For synchronicity is key

To understanding how we’re strung;

In terms of pitch and frequency,

Bunga bung bung, bunga bung bung.

 

So we researched if a primate

Could too repeat some songs unsung;

Using a drum to sounds create:

Bunga bung bung, bunga bung bung.

 

A female bonobo came forth,

Called Kuni, but not in her tongue;

Struck up the drum and then henceforth:

Bunga bung bung, bunga bung bung.

 

She matched the tempo that was hewn

Two thirds of the time when she swung;

And half the time she matched the tune,

Bunga bung bung, bunga bung bung.

 

The results of this primate’s test

Were similar to our own young;

Rhythm is not just man’s conquest:,

Bunga bung bung, bunga bung bung.

A bonobo, getting ready to lay down some mad beats (Photo Credit: Natataek at English Wikivoyage).
A bonobo, getting ready to lay down some mad beats (Photo Credit: Natataek at English Wikivoyage).

This is a Kyrielle, written about this piece of research, which investigated the extent to which bonobo exhibit sensitivity to auditory rhythms, by seeing how they were able to match the tempo and tune of a human drummer. It was found that a bonobo can temporally coordinate rhythmic movements, in a manner that is consistent with the evidence of rhythmic capabilities in other animals.

An audio version of this poem can be heard here.

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