When I was a kid I used to love the rhythms of riding my bike over sequences of concrete and the enjoyment of rhythms associated with the cycle of the clicking pedals. As kids we got old cigarette boxes made of stiff cardboard and used to peg them to the back wheels for the rhythmic effect.
There is something magical about the way rhythms penetrate us and are embodied through music. These sounds and rhythms are not something that exist ‘out there’ or are processed by cognitive brain capacity but rather, are embodied and felt without ‘thinking’. Embodied thinking is not really ‘thinking’ but rather has more in common with implicit/tacit knowing and feeling through ‘being’. We would do well to know more about how rhythms and musicality affect the way we work (Sacks, O., (2007) Musicophilia, Tales of Music and the Brain.)
In the scientific mindset we tend to deconstruct, compartmentalize and categories things so we can control them. We categorize to: be mentally economic, for pragmatic utility and efficiency, to create a taxonomy of comfort, for communal power, personal gratification and risk regulation. However, when we embody sensations and experiences and they become implicit, such controls weaken. Music and rhythms are not something that is just ‘out there’ to be heard, music and rhythms are ‘in here’ in ‘being’. Music and rhythms are not just processed by the brain but rather penetrate our being and influence our actions. I just love watching my grandkids when music comes on and without instruction or comment their little bodies just begin to bop and bounce, dancing about the lounge room. Music and rhythms don’t have to be analysed or understood in order to be meaningful.
A critical aspect of rhythms and music is their ecological affordance (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264275889_The_use_and_misuse_of_the_concept_of_affordance ). Affordances as ecological influences often override the systems we create and the mechanisms we think we have made that control humans. Embodied enactment needs to be understood outside of the notion of ‘human factors’ that simply views a human as part of a system (eg. Rasmussen etc. https://backend.orbit.dtu.dk/ws/portalfiles/portal/158016663/SAFESCI.PDF ). Isn’t is strange that Safety develops a study called ‘human factors’ that is not about humans but about systems! I often have people from Human factors tell me we have the same worldview, we don’t. SPoR doesn’t view the world through systems.
The systems we develop in safety all have rhythms, cycles and musicality in the way they work, operating at an unconscious level neither seen nor heard. These musicalities (the socialization of music) offer affordances that operate ecologically that are sometimes not in concert with the system itself. It is a strange thing that Safety tends to consider systems as both objective and neutral when in fact the way humans respond to systems are often ecologically determined and shaped by the sonic world. Music operates as a semiotic that penetrates humans through embodiment not cognition by brain or rational processing.
I watching some formworkers when on site last week on an iCue Walk and was mezmerised by how the workers used the rhythms of their swing to keep accurate, they rarely missed a direct hit on the head of the nail because their rhythm helped embody accuracy.
I live in a home of music. We have three pianos (one pianola) and numerous instruments laying around (my wife is a music teacher). Without fail when the grandkids come they all tinker on something, even the littlies who can’t read music understand how to keep rhythm and enjoy tapping away. Musicalitie has its own way of knowing and we encourage that feeling in our kids as much as possible.
What are your rhythms and musicalities at work? Do they support your systems or run across them? Do you observe the musicality of work? Does our fixation with hearing protection sometimes sacrifice times when musicality could assist work? Is your work in safety monodisciplinary or transdisciplinary so that disciplines such as music and geography, history and anthropology are consulted in risk assessment? Are you aware of how ‘interaffectivity’ (Thompson, Risch, Raaven etc) through ecological experiences support or undermine your systems? How is the perception of risk influenced by workplace musicality? Is your sense of ergonomics holistic (transdisciplinary) and are you aware of how ‘intercorproreality’ (Fuchs,, Varela etc) influences decisions in risk?