Last night a very talented friend (Anna) came over to help me with a song I wrote. Why did I need help? Well, in my head the song was full and complete with instrumental accompaniment. Sounds great, you say. Ahh yes, but life isn’t that easy. While I was able to write down the words, and sing the tune into Garage Band, that was where my skill ended. I had no idea how to get the instrument-like noises I heard in my head out into the air where other people could hear them.
I had a few ideas (that failed). For example I found a guitar emulator, but couldn’t master the strumming function. I tried to hum the guitar parts, but how the heck to you hum strum patters (failure of creativity). I asked Google to show me guitar chords, and I played (badly) on my guitar trying to match the tune in my head to the noises the guitar was making…but let’s just say I should stick to writing (or maybe take guitar lessons for a decade or two).
Enter my friend Anna who came over with her adorable toddler (kids get cuter as I get older) and after listening to my recording for a minute (ok it may have been longer, but I was impressed) totally made the guitar in her hands sound like the one in my head. I was amazed, and excited, and impressed, and jealous. When she was done getting the basics down, we spent some time singing and playing until we had the song at a place where we could play/sing it together (into Garage Band for posterity).
It was a great evening. I had to learn about pacing, and how to sing with an instrument (a real one, not just the one that plays in my head) and a few things about the song changed along the way (for the better), but by the end of the evening we were both really pleased with the result. Now I just have to listen to it and sing it a couple hundred times to get this new version into my head for our next recording attempt.
Some languages are tonal. The meaning of the words are effected by not just the letters in the words, but also how you pitch your voice when the words are delivered. I’m lost in those languages, but friends who speak them assure me I would figure it out with emersion. Imagine a world where communication was completely tonal…and it didn’t matter what you said, just how you said it. The alphabet would be notes rather than letters. Baby talk would be basic vocalization, then as your skills developed you would begin to use your voice and percussion, adding on instruments for greater depth of meaning. Conversations would be harmonies, and arguments dissonant chords.
What special challenges would come from this form of communication? What benefits would it have? Would a society with this communication form have different art forms? Would it effect the types of crime defined by the society? How would the community interact with other communities that did not share this method of communication? (Alien. Same species but different cultures. Other species (like pets or livestock)). Let the idea inspire you and spend fifteen minutes writing about this new communication form.