A certain indescribable charm

Och, Och It’s been a very long time since I last posted or ranted or shared anything creative here on my wordpress page! Well, now my Masters is finished, I can get back to my writing duties, re-inspired from my year of creative exploration and academic ponderings. It’s been an amazing year and I feel so grateful for the experience of studying at Uni Glamorgan alongside my fellow Masters students and with really excellent tutors.

So, I’m in the process of deciding where, as a creative soul, I go from here. Yes, I’ve spent a year focused on theatre, on drama and script writing- and this may well take me someplace new. But today I’d like to talk about music and the power of singing.

I’m feeling rather fed-up with the world of X-Factor like television programs, which are now given such importance that they are part of news bulletins! These cash-cow, emotionally manipulative, fame-lust creating monsters are riding on the back of the beauty of the human voice and the way our hearts are stirred when someone sings with true emotion. I feel aggrieved that so many young people who love singing now think that the only way to feel happy, to ‘do what I’ve always wanted to do’ is to be on a stage competing against each other in front of judges who will pull them apart (when on a different team) and stick by them (if on their team), blatantly biased and blatantly dramatic for good TV ratings. It’s a crazy-making attitude and a desire for an illusion that can never be fulfilling or really make you happy.

If you only want to sing – then SING! Do it right now, in your kitchen, garden, car, bedroom. Singing is a human right, we are all born with vocal chords, we are all singers. It doesn’t matter if you are in tune or not, have rhythm or soul, just sing and enjoy the feeling! If you only want to perform however, well that’s a different story. I look forward to the day when there is a more mature understanding of the impact music has upon our hearts… maybe I’ll help this attitude shift. I hope so.

This morning I came across these quotes which confirm my thoughts about the power of music when sung from the heart and a project I am about to begin. I can’t wait to get back to singing. I have missed it like a sister. I need to sing again with my sister…maybe then the ache will ease.

“Oh! How great a master is the heart! Confess it, my beloved singers, and gratefully own, that you would not have arrived at the highest Rank of the Profession if you had not been its pupils; own, that in a few lessons from it, you learned the most beautiful expressions, the most refined taste, the most noble action, and the most exquisite graces: own (even though it may seem incredible) that the heart corrects the defects of nature, since it softens the voice that is harsh, betters an indifferent one, and perfects a good one: own that when the heart sings you cannot dissemble, nor has truth a greater power of persuading: and finally, make it known (for I cannot teach it), that from the heart alone you have learned that certain indescribable charm which runs softly through all the veins and finally reaches the soul. Although the way to the heart is long and rugged, and known only to a few, a studious application will, not withstanding, master all difficulties.” (Tosi, Observations on the Florid Song (1723)) (my emphasis)

In the Baha’i writings, Baha’u’llah says,

“Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men….” (Baha’u’llah Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 295)

“Singing involves an influx of vitality and energy which is an essential element in the expression of emotion. This vital energy is often appropriately referred to as the ‘breath of life’. Bergson called it l’elan vital; the Hindus call it prana; the Chinese call it chi; in old Italian, the word fiato (breath) had this meaning in addition to its more prosaic one. It is this vital breath, not a bellows full of wind, that is the true source of vocal sound. It it is to be transformed into art, this energy must be consciously channelled; the energy must become sound….. Developing this impulse, tapping this energy, which maintaining the poise necessary for freedom of expression is, or should be, one of the first dutires of any teacher of singing. In practice, anyone with a genuine gift for singing will have felt it strongly at some time, usually triggered by a sense of tremendous well-being; that moment when singing suddenly is the easiest and most natural thing in the world – the moment of feeling perfectly balanced, full of life, and free…. It is in face the strength of this joyful impulse which usually leads people to sing in the first place.” ( Thomas Hemsley, Singing and Imagination, p.22-23)

So, inspired by these quotes, I’m going to write songs from my heart, from a deeper energy than breath alone…. to kindle my soul and let it grow. For me, singing has nothing to do with fame and the fickle romance of TV popularity. Singing is an expression of my heart, and I seek to touch other people’s hearts – otherwise what’s the point of learning how to do something so beautiful? That’s my project for today, a project that I hope will help a friend heal, in time. And one last quote, because this speaks to us all, however experienced or inexperienced we think we are:

“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sakes.  Now, I mean, I’m talking about singing in the shower, I’m talking about dancing to the radio, I’m talking about writing a poem to a friend–a lousy poem.”  (Kurt Vonnegut)