Everybody Sing!

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Emma McBride, Federal Member for Dobell, endorses Everybody Sing!

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Research Blog: digitalfolksong.com

I’m currently conducting some music research as part of a PhD, so I’ve decided to set up a research blog as a way to document & share the project.

 digitalfolksong.com

Lastest post is on a presentation in October as part of the the Musicological Society of Australia’s Annual Conference (Which this year will also be a bit of a celebration of Sydney Con turning 100!)

Internet Show & Tell No.2: O-Bon

The end of July marks O-bon time in Japan, a tradition honouring ancestors. Based on the old Lunar calendar, many families go off visiting their home villages to visit their loved ones from both sides, on what amongst the living falls around the date of July 15th.

Of course you can’t let your ghosts go hungry…O-bon refers to the container of offerings. This can be food for your otherworldly guests or something else that’s pleasing, like some ethereal floating lanterns.

Photo: Mitchell Adams (2006) Sourced from Flickr.
Photo: Mitchell Adams (2006) Sourced from Flickr.

As could be expected a unique kind of O-bon folk music & dance get a work out in celebrations:

As O-bon is also known as Hungry Ghost Month, i’ll throw in another folk song about ghosts for good measure (& as there are many to choose from!). This one’s an English ballad, referred to as Child Ballad 78 or The Unquiet Grave performed by the lovely Joan Baez:

For a much more comprehensive look at O-bon/Hungry Ghost Month

Internet Show & Tell no.1: Kalt

In an attempt to blog more regularly, I decided I’d like to share something musical or interesting that I come across on the internet each week (though this might end up more of a fortnightly habit). This week… Kælan Mikla’s video for their new song Kalt.

The band is an Icelandic group that began in poetry slams. The band have said writing in their native language is naturally an expressive vehicle for conveying their poetic meaning (More here…). They’ve also said that they didn’t understand how they attract an audience outside of Iceland, where the meanings of the lyrics are obscured.

The music to me isn’t instantly hypnotic but is quickly elevated though a building visceral energy. There’s something very aesthetically pleasing about the words. They seem perfectly picked. The consonants have great attack and are so interesting to an English speaker. Even though I can’t fully understand the words with all their connotations (though I did google translate), it’s provocative.

Creating Space

Yves Saint Laurent's workspace by Hedi Slimane
Yves Saint Laurent’s workspace by Hedi Slimane

A peaceful and inviting studio or practice space make can make a big difference to your musical practice. Yoga studios and art rooms are more often good examples of inviting and purpose driven spaces. You don’t need to have grand space or even a full room but carving out your ‘own space’ can inspired and enrich your practice.

Here’s five things that can make a space ideal for a focused singing practice…
Hydrate
Stock your space with tea or water to keep hydrated. The steam of a nice herbal tea will fill with the room with a nice scent without drying the air like a scented candle. Steam is very beneficial for your voice.

West Elm Owl Teapot Set
West Elm Owl Teapot Set

Refresh
Air is important for singers, so keep your practice space or studio refreshed and clean. You could add some indoor plants to naturally filter the air or keep a window open for a bit each day.

Anthropologie 'Carnival pots'
Anthropologie ‘Carnival pots’

Organise
I’m a bit guilty of letting piles of sheet music, books and notes accumulate, but nothing says ‘calm’ like a good looking, well kept bookshelf.

Illustration by Quentin Blake for Roald Dahl's Matilda
Illustration by Quentin Blake for Roald Dahl’s Matilda

Light
A space with good natural light is ideal, but you can supplement with the soft light of lamps to avoid a stark and clinical atmosphere. Mirrors are also great, serving multiple purposes- checking posture and presence, as well as reflecting light and creating the illusion of space.

open window

Originality
It’s important to make your studio or practice space somewhere inviting and where you’d like to spend time. Put your own spin onto it and add your own little vignettes, maybe through art or sentimental objects.

bells

images via pinterest

Wabi-Sabi & Singing

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese view and aesthetic that defines beauty that embraces imperfections and impermanence. It is an antidote to homogeneity. A beautiful practice within this philosophy is Kintsukuroi, the act of mending broken pottery with gold. The effect shines a light on flawed beauty- in a way the broken object becomes more beautiful.

kintsukuroi
Wabi-sabi may unintentionally present itself in vocal warmups. Sometimes the little discoveries we make about our own voice come from times when you feel like you are simply mucking around. Singing teachers and students may recognise moments like this when you are attempting to make the ugliest of sounds, such as a witches cackle, low heavy sobs or a deep and unguarded laugh. If singing is an act of being a conduit for emotions and stories, the most believable and beautifully heartfelt doesn’t always equate to technical perfection. Think of the unique and recognisable voices of your favourite singers.

newsom
singer Joanna Newsom

Another wabi-sabi consideration is the way that the voice changes over time. The voice can take on different characteristics and abilities as we age. You can read a bit about the common changes here: http://www.entnet.org/content/voice-and-aging

Using elements of wabi-sabi in your singing practice could mean releasing your judgement and embracing your own unique sound. An essential in healthy singing method is to be relaxed. This will ease up muscles and breathing, allowing your voice to flow freely and safely. You may find the parameters of your vocal range and ability actually expand by being relaxed. As Bill Murray said, “the more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything”.

Bill Murray knows best
Bill Murray knows best