I was always thinking of art as the most sacred, true and powerful means of expression. And music, as the most abstract form of art, transcends every human limitation and weakness.
Voice, our own special imprint and instrument we carry on until our end, is probably the most ancient and primitive source of sound we have experienced as humans and used in the creation of music. With this syllogism, the use of the voice over the centuries reflects the various ideas of beauty that each epoch had.
This exposition investigates and explores the ideas of contemporary times, the different approaches of the human voice that mirror the contemporary perception of what constitutes beauty. Where do these approaches come from? And how have they developed during this and the last century?
The rise of movements at the turn of the 20th century opened the way to new waves in the aesthetics of art. Among the research for new tonalities, timbres, forms and styles, the use of the human voice described in musical terminology as “bel canto” was to be explored with different directions and approaches. After a century of the greatly trained "spinto" and dramatic voice who managed the impossible - that is to be heard above a Wagnerian orchestra playing fortissimo - a journey begun in the search for a new voice.
One could translate this journey as the contemporary reconstruction of the spiritual and sensational, the Apollonian and the Dionysian, Beauty. Within the two antithetical divinities of Apollo and Dionysus and the spectrum that arises between them, composers and later on singers started searching for their own vision and path in terms of techniques, nuances and shapes of sound.
The search for the "Siren" represents the search for the contemporary voice and beauty. The mythical figure functions as a poetic term and metaphysical symbol.
“I do not think that they will sing to me”1 the 22-years-old American-English poet Thomas Stearns Eliot writes, when the middle-aged Alfred Prufrock understands his vain nature, a nature unworthy of being seduced by the mythical creature. But what if woman has the potential to meet the Siren? What if woman herself can be a Siren? I find this hope of reaching the elusive, related to the composer’s hope to find a new voice or the singer’s hope to incarnate this voice. I find this to be a dream of mine. Therefore, I experience a constant rise of questions regarding the aesthetics, the manner I use my voice, the different approaches and techniques each work requires and how I manage to serve the music as best as I can.
The thematics of this exposition are expanded in the effort to understand these questions and they are undoubtedly connected with the inner living research and interest of mine in these different “voices” that will be mentioned. I coined this terminology in order to delineate the characteristics of the voices to a more specific frame: 1) The Folk Voice, which explores how folk elements and timbres enter in "classical" and popular music, 2) The Extended Voice, which describes the use of extended vocal techniques with reference to technical and physical aspects of timbral contrasts, vocal fry, scream and inhalation phonation, 3) The Absent, Transformed and Replaced Voice, which occurred with the technological development.
How did artists in the past tried to discover or invent these voices?
How did they influence the younger generations and the contemporary?
How I myself explore these voices and the beauty of the Siren?
Sirens, daughters of one of the Muses, were by nature deeply connected to voice and sound. Their song, as translated by Homer, gives clues on what constitutes their beauty. In its extension, the mythical figure of the Siren constitutes the characteristics of a vocalist that form the contemporary vocal aesthetics.
“Hither, come hither, renowned Odysseus, great glory of the Achaeans, here stay thy barque, that thou mayest listen to the voice of us twain. For none hath ever driven by this way in his black ship, till he hath heard from our lips the voice sweet as honeycomb, and hath had joy thereof and gone on his way wiser. For we know all things, all the travail that in wide Troy-land the Argives and Trojans bare by the gods’ designs, yea, and we know all that shall hereafter be upon the fruitful earth”2
Sirens were seductive and dangerous creatures. Their voices and fatal songs were meant to hypnotise and seduce humans. They mediate the spaces between different elements and the realms of the living and the dead3. Wise and charming, they offer knowledge to their listeners.
Odysseus, as much as Homer, wanted this knowledge. Himself, ahead of his time and fellow humans, was the first of mortal men to pass them unscathed; ordering his sailors to bind and tie him to the mast.
Since the late antiquity, Sirens undergo transformation and through time their appearance and nature change shapes. This exposition will be realised with instances of works that are considered very important in this evolution of aesthetics and influenced me as an artist as well. My personal research as an artist is exposed: a soprano and a composer/sound-artist, focused on medieval and contemporary repertoire, fascinated by extremes, interested in pure sound and simultaneously extended vocal techniques, love working with both composers and performers, observing their thoughts, sharing the erotic nature of sound and living inspired through art.