Finding My Voice
I have chosen to experience life through the exploration of voice.The voice informs my choices, perspectives and direction.
On a very personal, primal level, this relationship to voice is expressed through my own vocal development; singing, creating, collaborating and performing. However, given its multidisciplinary and evolutionary nature, my focus is also drawn towards research and teaching.
Vocal development is something I feel to be a lifelong process; revealing many stages of evolution, but with no ‘end point’. I think of my voice as a representation of my ever changing moods, reflections, circumstances and understanding of self.
In a performative sense, the voice is the vehicle through which I can share the story of my own journey. But more than this; it can share and transmit ideas and narratives which inspire others. This informs a choice about how I use my voice. Sometimes the stories I choose to share do not ‘belong’ to me in the sense that they are not my creation. Nonetheless, the communication of song is understood by us; exploring themes and archetypes of human experience. There is nothing more beautiful than the music of our own hearts; but there are many amazing biographies of truth waiting to be shared and heard by the world.
I feel I am only just beginning to comprehend the immense power available through the most basic tool of communication we have available to us - At times this realisation is overwhelming.
When I say ‘basic’, what I mean is fundamental. As soon as we have drawn our first breath, the way is paved for vocalisation. Often a parallel is made between the perceived ‘uninhibited’ communication of a newborn child with what many of us experience daily in a ‘repressed’ or ‘suppressed’ voice. A child’s cries express a language which is raw and visceral in nature; and it is from this we interpret a communication requesting sustenance, support and nourishment. From this viewpoint; the voice expresses direct communication of personal reality.
As a vocal practitioner and facilitator, I am in many ways trying to achieve and encourage others to ‘return’ to this way of using voice. The foundation of my work lies on the assumption that over time; we accrue experiences, information and conditioning which animate how we use our voices. Many of the habits which are adopted in fact limit the range, flexibility and expression of the voice. Thus, the comparison of the young child who may not yet have highly developed language capabilities, but can scream for hours on end without vocal strain is an example I often return to in my work.
When I refer to using ‘the voice’ or ’voice work’; I simply mean - an uninhibited flow of personal expression communicated through some form of safe vocalisation. As a vocalist, I feel it is so important to emphasise this notion of safety, and safe practice. The voice and subsequently the body is the instrument of communication - we must look after ourselves to avoid unnecessary strain or tension which could potentially lead to damage. I mention first the body, as this is the ‘house’ of our human experience - it becomes a tool and a reference point - a way for us to have a tangible way to monitor sensations and experiences. Our body is the antennae or receiving instrument which is of course informed and in communicative collaboration with influences of; intellect, emotion and a myriad of other factors from both internal and external stimuli.
With only a small appreciation of the immeasurable power and importance of voice, I feel a fundamental responsibility in how I use the vocal instrument. Aside from my own worldly values; the vocal training and research that has informed my understanding of voice insist that I endeavour to express a ‘truth’. By this - I mean feeling that I have an honest relationship and connection with the things I choose to express; be that in my conversations, or the music that I share with others. This relationship must be challenged often, updated and informed by external realities - other people, alternate perspectives, the changing dynamic of many ‘worlds’ - my more immediate communities as well as the global community. I believe that to connect with a personal ‘truth’ I have to trust my instinct and intuition…
However, how does one ensure that their truth is not a delusion? I do not believe this can be answered with any certainty. Nonetheless, by taking this observation into account; I am endeavouring to challenge my own ideas - a means to test my integrity, values and understanding of the world.
This then, becomes an additional driving force to explore and understand the self (the voice) through one’s relationship to others. There is a hope, and on some level, a wish (that I want to evolve into a belief) that others are exploring the world similarly. Perhaps I will meet them along the way - wanderers, explorers, dreamers philosophers, scientists, theorists… Others in search of truths; trying to rebuild a sense of trust and connection with their own truth. So… this leads me to travel - pull away from comfortable ‘understandings’ of my closest reality and environment. Engage with other spaces, places and people - creating platforms for learning exchange and healing exchange.
My journey and search for ‘the true voice’ is an attempt to rebuild trust - of myself and of others.
I have chosen to use the human voice as my guide and my tool of interaction. I wish to explore the relationship we have with our voices through an examination of other cultures unfamiliar to me. In order to develop the relationship of trust with those from contrasting backgrounds, I want to share in their way of life. I see a way for this achieved through an immersion in community spaces where I can participate - living and sharing in cultural practice and oral tradition. My emphasis of exploration will be through music, in particular how the voice is used. I see this as an opportunity to learn new approaches to vocalisation, from both technical and creative perspectives, thus giving me additional tools to express and understand myself. In turn, this will feed into my own composition work as well as teaching and community music practice. I believe it is important to democratise and share knowledge, experience and insight in order to develop strong and nourishing relationships with others.
This… This is my journey.
With love, Lise x