Rhythm and harmony in music

Difficult to separate,so the question is a little artificial.What is more important for you,feels more basic?For me it is rhythm.
Why difficult to separate? Rythm goes straight to the body, harmony to the soul, if you like. You can have harmoneous and unharmoneous rythm and rhythmic as well as unrythmic harmony. For me both are important and the interplay between those two musically essential factors in all its shadings is essential to the musical experience. Therefore, if you take the impact of a given composition as a whole, you are right of course, it is like killing and disecting something beautiful, if you want to separate both factors, but that's what you do, when you start analysing a given piece of music.
Rhythm and harmony are two entirely different things.

Rhythm is the "accent of the beat" so to speak, and is applied to the timing structure of the song, ie., shuffle, swing, march, waltz, etc. These give various rhythmic "flavors" to the style of the song, in a given time signature.

Harmony is the blending of tones, usually from different instruments or voices to produce "Chords", that have a tonal structure comrprised of several fundamental tones. These give tonal "flavors" and "body" to the song.

As far as importance goes, from a music theory viewpoint, there must be a rhythm, or it is not a song. So that makes rhythm quite important. On the other hand, harmony is not required in a song, and is simply part of the tone pallette. Simple one-note melodies like nursery rhymes do not have any harmony. They are simplistic. Choral works are masterpieces of harmony.

It is all a personal thing about what "flavors" you like in your music, and I like most of them.

I think that the Beach Boys had some beautiful pop harmonies. But I don't really like Barbershop Quartet harmonies, even though the Barbershop Quartets are usually perfectly constructed. Personal taste.

I agree with Detlof that the rhythm is something that most people just "feel" in their body. They don't necessarily identify it as a particulart style, because most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a "swing" and a "shuffle" anyway. Most people can't even identify a 3/4 time from a 4/4 time, but that doesn't stop them from enjoying it.

Music theory is something I study because I like music, and want to know more about it, and how it is made. I learned to play instruments, and studied theory, because I wanted to be able to construct my own music(DIY again!) instead of just playing what others had written. It is a fairly deep subject and mathematically complex, at times.

Long live music!
I suspect that long before humans began making music with the elements of harmony and melody, we played rhythm on whatever was available: rocks, hollowed-out pieces of tree trunk, etc. So I agree with Detlof's comment that rhythm is the elemental component of music. Even today's rap "music" (I don't personally regard it as music in the full sense of the word) is essentially words set to rhythm. A good example of music with a strong rhythmic component is military marches, such as those written by John Phillip Sousa. It's pretty hard to listen to "Stars and Stripes", "The Washington Post March", or "Semper Fidelis" without getting up to march around the room.

Rhythm is probably the most distinguishing feature of many music forms, even after different instrumentation is taken into account. Jazz, for example, uses many rhythms/tempos, with Afro-Cuban jazz being the most complex with both poly-rhythms and strong syncopation (the placement of an accent beat where you don't expect it, or the absense of an accent where you do expect it).

Classical European music has generally been confined to a more limited range of rhythms compared to jazz, usually being played in either 3/4 or 4/4 time. By comparison, jazz and the musics of the Caribbean and South America use many different rhythms. Rhythms are what connect us directly to the music, and create a physical response, such as the desire to dance.

I had an interesting experience recently -- one that many parents may have noticed with small children. I was visiting the new home of a couple with a 1-year child. She was playing with a Casio electronic keyboard on the floor of their family room, and she by accident pushed one of the buttons that start a basic rhythm pattern. In this case, the rhythm was a syncopated Latin variety. Although the little girl can't walk yet, she still raised her hips up off the floor and started to "boogie", swinging her hips from side to side.

So, even with babies, it's the rhythm that connects first. Harmony and melody are the more intellectual counterparts to rhythm, and they certainly add intellectual substance to music, but I'd argue that there is no music without rhythm.
Detlof & Twl beat me to it (& expressed it better). As a side issue, the usic industry has determined that, allegedly, women are very susceptible to rythm... (Can a woman confirm, deny or otherwise comment upon this premise?)

Good question however, as I've heard many people that seem to use either word indiscriminately in oral communication.
It would seem that we are generally in agreement so far,gentlemen.
Greg, interesting point you make. Rythm could be likened to raw love making, PRAT to eros in general. One cannot do without the other.
Detlof, this begs the question of which comes first:). Could one say that eros would be a situation that is "cultivated" vs. "raw" rythm.
(In my case, it worked the other way round -- when it did work, that is:)! ). Cheers
Greg, if I could only remember.....{-;