This is an oldie but goodie from 2018. The topic came up again recently so…
Friday Focus: What’s in a Voice?
Consider for a moment that the act of verbal communication through speech and song is, at best, the fourth most important task your vocal cords execute. Vocal sound production is not even one of the top three functions of the vocal cords which, as a reminder, are:
- Keeping foreign bodies out of the lungs by sealing off the airway while you swallow.
- Coughing and throat clearing should any particles get through.
- Building and maintaining of air pressure for physical exertions such as lifting heavy items and bearing down such as during elimination or childbirth.
I find this fact fascinating.
How is it that an air valve/sphincter suddenly became the singular form of communication for a species? How is it that an air valve/sphincter can create such a wide range of sounds and effects? What was so important that it transformed a grunt into a tone and further? There is now significant research in both anthropology and neurology which indicates that singing and music emerged before language: That we sang before we spoke. Why then are so many people sure they cannot sing?
I’m not entirely certain that we can ever have the answers to all of these questions, but the queries themselves are the life-force behind the work. In the studio, I talk a lot about ‘process.’ What has to happen and in what order. How we practice the vocal craft and why. Process is driven by questions and exists in resistance to pre-existing and limiting beliefs. Process just “is.” It is a moment in time, but it is never static. It is perpetually in motion like water in a stream. Process is what tells me that everyone can improve, that every voice can bloom in its unique way. Process is what assures me that everyone can grow and love their voice.
I am in process this week at the LoVetri Institute for Somatic Voicework. I will post about my experience here in the coming weeks, but today I just wanted to share a bit of my wonder at the human voice. I am in awe of its possibility. I continue my study of the human voice because as I answer more questions, I discover more questions. It really is a beautiful existence.
Keep wondering, keep asking, keep working. See you in the Studio.
Here are some great resources for answering questions and discovering more mysteries about the voice, anthropology, and neurology:
- Why We Like Music by Silvia Bencivello
- This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin
- The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body by Steven Mithian
- The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music edited by Isabelle Peretz and Robert Zatorre
- Rhythm, Music, and the Brain,, by Michael Thaut
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