I want you to try something right now. Put on a pair of headphones if you’ve got them nearby. Click here to play “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes on YouTube. Bring up the volume. Listen for 30 seconds, then pause the video. I’ll wait ….
Now here’s a question for you: by the time you paused the video were you bopping your head in time to Meg White’s drumbeat? Or maybe you were tapping your feet? I bet you were. Why? Because the beat is irresistible and it evokes a primal reaction in us… it nearly replicates our own heartbeat. The tempo of the song is the same tempo that propels us through our days and nights – we recognize it immediately and naturally get in sync with it because it feels right.
It is not surprising that “Seven Nation Army” has become one of the world’s most recognizable songs. At every match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, players walked onto the field to the song’s opening strains; fans chant it in stadiums all over the world, no English required:
“Ohh, oh-OH-oh-oh ohhhh ohhh.”
This kind of chanting is simple yet very empowering and energizing. Percussionist Marla Leigh points out that drumming and chanting have been used for thousands of years to create and maintain physical, mental and spiritual health. At CHP we try to begin every music session with some kind of percussion exercise so that after a few minutes we are all in sync. In biomusicology this is called “entrainment”, the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm. At CHP we call it “getting in the groove.” The magic of “Seven Nation Army” is that it calls us to come together and get in sync; when we follow that call, it feels good! Life goes better with music!