There is a theory that before humans developed words, they sang to each other, like birds. Imagine the nuance of melody as the angry female demanded to know why the man was so late coming home from the hunt. Or the cooing of a lovers’ conversation. Diplomatic negotiations, arguments, excuses: were they Broadway numbers, arias, or heavy metal?

There are those who believe that music comes from our right brain, words are left brained, and our over dominant left brains have diminished life’s serenade. Perhaps if our politicians were suddenly forced to sing to each other, they might eventually discover harmony. Even today we have sayings like, “That will make them change their tune!” or “Once we showed him the evidence, he sang like a canary.” 

The left brain is responsible for labeling, naming, categorizing, listing. Many creation stories from around the world tell of the original human walking around and naming things. The Bible states that God brought the animals to Adam, and “whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.” In Ojibwe tradition, the trickster god Nanabozho’s first task was to name the plants and animals. From Africa to Korea, the first peoples were tasked with naming everything. 

Who knows what went on in the early hominid’s brain? We have no videos or documentation to prove anything, only stories. As storytellers, we can invent and create worlds, as well as lie and destroy with words. And while it’s possible that our first storytellers were mimes and singers, it’s bringing together words and music, right and left brains, that allow us to write poetry, declaim Shakespeare and become rappers. Every word you say, every note you sing, is an exhalation.