"The voice is the guide to the experience as well as the experience itself."
(Thomaidis & Butcher 2016:76)
In a recent volume voice researcher Konstantinos Thomaidis follows voice and vocality on a walk through Paris (Thomaidis 2017). His follows and listens to details. He listens full of care, while articulating the experience of vocality as "an acoustic phenomenon", as "intonation and colour". A voice being "part of and enfolding composition" communicating through "written form". He also notices that voice has an ability to react itself "to our choices", at the same time as it "anchors us in real-time environment.". Thomaidis welcomes the reader to follow the guiding voice. And to listen together.
The process of being guided by vocality while listening to all those parts enacted as "experience itself" calls for an openness and dynamic awareness. Physics and feminist scholar Karen Barad writes that we need an "'ethico-onto-episteme-ology' that does justice to 'the entanglement of ethics, knowing, and being.'" (Hammarström 2010). Vocality, vocal experience and voicing as dynamic processes of moving physco-physically, opens up for such entanglements to occur. Hammarström explores Barad's agential realist theory while presenting an understanding of relationality. From a relationaist point of view relatedness is the key rather than opting for a choice of separatedness.
In a blog from 2016, Finnish voice-artist Heidi Fast writes about a specific case study in a hospital environment (as part of her doctoral research) where she examines and explores the possibilities of non-verbal vocality to attune embodied relationality: “my task is not to ‘give voice to the patients’, instead, I try to create favourable conditions with my voice", and "presence to invite the participants to an entirely new dialogue. The role of the researcher is not a distant observer, but experiential in proximity” (Fast 2016). The relationality enacted by performer/s, researcher/s, listener/s, participants in a musical event/encounter allows for overlappings of shared elevated (or even spiritual) experiences inspiring to new ways of thinking. Such existential experiences can be challenging to describe or to discursively articulate at a later stage. At the same time these ‘spiritual’ experiences provide a provocative point of departure for the field of artistic research.
The 'spirituality' of the vocal experience enacts as its own agential force. This force is both strong and contradicting. It can embrace and push away. It can be both disruptive and tightening. Voicing as a religous experience might both frighten and seduce at the same time. Just like love. Dancer, philosopher and scholar of religion, Kimerer L. LaMothe refers to Rosi Braidotti's call for engagement through new matherialist theories for only one reason and this is the reason of love. "In Braidotti's account religion lingers in the form of emotional patterns - shapes of sensation that swell within us, sweep through us, and spill from us. It appears within us as an imaginative act of reaching beyond the comfort zone of scientific reason, as the courage to feel present pain, as a spur to move otherwise. In this view, the love we need for the body of earth - and for our bodies of earth - is left over from a religion out of whose sphere we are nonetheless moving." (LaMothe 2016: 29)
The act of singing is a dancing act on the threshold of the im/possible. It entangles the senses and the mind/body agential power, leaping both skyhigh and deep into the darkness of death. Singing is both love and hate and everything in-between. Scary for some. Wondrous for others. Living and life for everybody.