“When Did We Stop Singing?” Vocal Improvisation and Circle Singing as a metaphor and tool for community building
Deb Hensley www.improvox.com www.whendidwestopsinging.com
Welcome, Introductions, Hopes and Concerns around the circle Review: safety, confidentiality, permission to "pass," encouragement to try etc. Vocal ensembling/improvisation as a metaphor and tool for building community: (brainstorm parallels-- v short discussion to set intention for wkshop) Your Hopes and Concerns for today…
Some Questions to Consider How often do you actually sing (individually or with others)? Do you feel free to sing in public...why or why not? Do you think singing a natural part of human expression? How do indigenous cultures use singing to build community? Why has Western culture largely stopped singing in community? Do you think singing is important to peace-building, sustainability and communities of all kinds?
Learned Fear of Singing… • A Western invention • Relentless assault of riff-raff or public “music” • “Expertism” at the expense of accessibility to all • Performance verses community based singing • Over-dependence on recordings
A Serious Silencing …of a basic human need
Indigenous Cultures Sing Freely • To establish context • To celebrate the hunt (songfeasts) • To connect and reconnect • To promote interdependence • To express place • To express identity • To indicate solidarity • To build social capital
Indigenous Cultures incorporate singing seamlessly into community • African “Song of the Child” • Singing as a response to socially aberrant behavior • T • AborignalSonglines • Medicine man asking “when did you stop singing?”
Original • Open • Honest • Voluntary • Intimate • Spontaneous • Innate OOHVISI OOHVISI refers to singing that is accessible to anyone—alone or together It goes beyond the formal constructs of choirs, glee clubs and performance venues
What makes a community come alive? OOHVISI singing models a way for communities to establish interdependence, connection and celebration, stronger rhythmic routines, emergent themes, and a defined identity
Community Celebration Interdependence Connection
The NEW Community: Design, Story, Orchestra, Empathy, Play, Meaning - A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
Big picture thinking Out of the box thinking Connecting patterns Polyrhythm Overvoice Uncervoice Design Big-picture Out of the box Connecting patterns Polyrhythms Accessing the “Overvoice” Big-picture Out of the box Connecting patterns Polyrhythms The Overvoice The Undervoice Big-picture Out of the box Connecting patterns Polyrhythms The Undervoice
the voice of another the voice of the self the voice of the common experience the voice of narrative medicine Story
steady beat patterns dynamics melodic themes structure • interlocking parts counter melodies repetition variation tempo meter rhythm pitch tone Orchestra
Deep listening to the voice of another Embracing silence Compassionate and bold response Empathy
Voluntary • Spontaneous • Self-initiated • Simple or complex • Structured toward freedom Play
MEANING Intention Expression Contextual Direction Comprehension Emotion Memory Relational “The secret of life is to discover your song and the meaning of life is to sing it.” -Annonymous
Warming up the speaking, singing and body voice "Dig a Duck” Speaking: Your Story/Our Story --two word story around circle, get it going until it feels like one story 1/12/1/1232/1/123432/1 etc.. Call and response tones/scale patterns/names Circle-Song (voicestra) Round: When You Were Born Long Tones--unison then harmonics and back to unison Write your name with a lazer beam
The Overvoice Rhythm and Polyrhythm Ah maheee boo oh eeaayeee
Hearing the Melodic and Rhythmic "Overvoice" Ahm ah ee boo” rolling round— from Ysay Barnwell of Sweet Honey and the Rock) Whole group sings together, then ask for volunteers to sing as a smaller group. Listen deeply to the many melodies created within this one song when many people sing it together. Debrief discussion around these concepts: What did this teach us about community building--collective endeavor, unforeseen ideas that come forward in community, deep listening, attention, holding individual part vital, hearing the "overvoice" etc. OF MELODY…
Improvisational Forms And what they teach us about community
VOICESTRA • Emerges in the moment • A Spontaneous Circle Song • Can have words or no words • Simple or very complex • Start by banishing your brain from the circle! • JUST VOICE IT….
Group Home--2 or 3 people choose a rhythmic or melodic riff together, then the next three etc--can be harmonies or interlocking parts. Invite volunteers to improvise (2 at a time) • Individual Home--(ask for 5-7 volunteers...each person creates and holds their own part. One improviser sings in center of circle and ends piece) • Sound Wave—leader introduces a vocal pattern and passes it on…then starts another pattern once that is established down the line….as in vocal “telephone” game Debrief: how do these vocal experiences relate to community. What did you have to do individually and collectively to make them work? What was difficult/scary/fun/interesting/unifying etc... :
…of rhythm Clapping and Object Rhythms Body Rhythms Body Body Body Sylvie with Body Rhythm Aie Aye Mo Chi Noomba • One, one two one… • Clapping meters, body rhythms • Cup game
Some Simple SONGS that build community… Quodlibits: Swing Low/When the Saints/Coming Round the Mt. When I breathe in I breath in peace… Deliver me I will believe the Truth about myself... The Tarantulas are on the Road Aie Aye Mo CheNoomba Lay Down my Sword and Shield (ask for input) Can't imagine life without... Choo can get to feeling happy, What to do if you can't get Pizza...what to do when it rains...
Get on Board • Choo can get to feelin’ happy you can get to feeling good, choo can do most anything that choo thought choo could… • Get on board, get on track. Get to where you’re goin’ and don’t look back… • Choo take a ride, choo take a ride, choo let it go…step aside… • Get on board….Get on track….Get on board….Get on track… -Terri Garthwate
Breathe in Peace • When I breathe in, I breathe in peace, when I breathe out, I breath out love Breathe out….breathe in… breathe out…breathe in….
Rolling Round I will believe the Truth about myself…No matter how beautiful it is
When you were born… • When you were born you cried, and the world rejoiced, • Live your life so that when you die • The world cries and you rejoice
Spontaneous Circle Singing Voicestras… Invite people who are inclined, to try setting up their own voicestra and improvise with it Closure: Keep Breathing (As the chorus of this continues invite participants to consider a time in their life when…..and share this aloud when ready) Long tones and goodbye....
THE SPONTANEOUS VOICE Voice is inherent in each of us, everyone has a VOICE. May not ultimately be about physical singing, but YOUR VOICE is vital to the community, both as a support and a melody in itself. Pay attention to it and use it. Identify where your VOICE lives (what is your primary means of expression?) Thank you for considering the primal, ancestral nature of music here today and its implications for community building
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” --Maya Angelou
Deb Hensley www.improvox.com www.whendidwestopsinging.com