A human’s need to communicate can be observed from the first moments of life. The intuitive reaction of a newborn to cry lays the stepping-stone for a process which, at its heart, will enable every human to successfully communicate their experience of being alive.
It has been said that words are man’s greatest achievement. With the first utterances of symbolic language emerging 2.5 million years ago — slowly evolved by the first Homo sapiens — the solid foundations of modern articulation have decidedly been set. Yet many would argue that speech and language was developed not out of want, but out of need. In what ways do humans communicate without using words?
Music has long been a way of communicating for necessity as well as pleasure, such as the use of a lullaby to sooth, a folk song to warn and a chant to call to arms. But in what ways do we use rhythm and melody to communicate with nature itself?
In the case of the people of the Banks islands in the South Pacific, it is only by literally playing the water that their message of thanks to the sea can be communicated. Waist deep in water, women and young girls alike will stand side by side and begin to play out a complex set of rhythmic patterns, every one as unique as the female herself.
Human history on these volcanic islands indicates precisely why these rituals still take place. Archeologists have found evidence that this region of the Pacific has been inhabited since at least 2000 BC. Yet with only 1% land to 99% water in a climate of volatile cyclone prone seas, life in the South Pacific is far from idyllic. Nonetheless, the Vanuatu people were listed as the happiest on the planet by the Happy Planet Index.
This post was originally published by BBCEarth.
Photo courtesy of BBCEarth
Written by Adelle Havard, a blogger for BBCEarth
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