The Psychological Voice

The Psychological Voice
Tuesday musings from Los Angeles...

As I spoke of the physical instrument yesterday and its requirements and required demands depending on the genre and arena, the next exploration is the psychological aspect of voice and the PERSON behind it.

This topic could be a thesis, and obviously I shall maintain an overview to make it readable (I hope) in touching on this subject and allowing you to explore what comes out of it as you read...

Being a singer has many complex levels of physicality and consciousness. Just because some levels and prowess exist, does not mean they all do and that they are all able to connect at the same level.

Having the physical instrument is only one aspect - albeit an important one - to being a singer!

The psyche of the human being informs that physical instrument completely. The building of that instrument MUST be willing and able to encompass the fascinating complexities of the human spirit, not just the physical pathology.

In saying that, we must ask ourselves what we are passionate about! Just because our instrument can physicalize an operatic sound - does that mean we must be an opera singer? Are there operatic voices that are not drawn to opera? (as an example) The answer of course is yes.

The question then becomes, is our physical instrument in line with our psyche and passion? Can we physically DO what we are drawn to? And if not, how do we wrestle and come to terms with that?

This is why, in my opinion, it is CRUCIAL to explore what that instrument does as neutral behavior!! If we don't discover the TRUTH of the physicality, we are dabbling and creating a facade - and "stylizing" not SINGING! Authenticity of style and genre comes from a complex inhabiting of stylistic commitment to the truth in that style rooted in the physicality and psychology of the singer. Anything less is basket weaving and we've become "the ladies who lunch".

What are we drawn to? Why? What brings us to that place? What is it about the genre, the style, the general arena or the specific stylistic choices that quickens us? If we are to be authentic artists, we must ask these questions and choose to dive in and discover the answers! And the answers will change as we evolve as singers, artists and human beings!

It is not necessarily easier to discover that your physical instrument and your psyche "match" because it then becomes too easy to slum and say "it's good enough" because you can rely on the natural match. This is being a lazy singer and not much of an artist. In many ways, this realization of clear match should be an indication of ignition!!! It's not good enough just to be, but rather, what do you DO with it? What do you do ABOUT it? A physical and psychological "match" now means integration and CLAIMING IT. It just doesn't happen! This is work - but work that is ultimately rewarding and exciting in its discoveries!

And what if the physical instrument and the psyche do not SEEM to line up just yet? Do not get frustrated!! This is an exciting time for you!! This does not allow you to go on automatic pilot, but rather, tasks you to discover the truth of authenticity of self! What a marvelous opportunity!

As singers, and if we pursue truth and authenticity, as artists, we need to follow passion and in that passion discover the true destiny of where our voice inhabits and how it inhabits that space! It may not be where you initially that it was, but when the authentic desire is realized, it will be so much more rewarding!

Perhaps you have a voice that could encompass many or several genres and arenas. As you grow and evolve the genre that speaks to you most clearly for that time will emerge. You do not have to make a decision and stick to it exclusively! We must, as a singers, be flexible, and use our focused periphery to acknowledge changes and growth to the physical and psyche of our instrument!! If we do not, we are dabbling and not truly on the path to artistic expression!

Once we discover where we need to be in this moment, and how we inhabit that moment in our study, discovery, and execution, we truly are "home"!

Doing what everybody else does, or what somebody else says to do, is not authentic. We are relinquishing our truest sense of self and our ability to discover by passing OUR discovery to someone else's external observation!

Dare to ask the questions to discover the truth about your instrument - both physical and psychological! Dare to SEE the truth in plain sight, and then dare to LIVE it and find out where it takes you!

Being an artist is complex, but it doesn't need to be complicated! Take a breath, anchor yourself, and FIND IT!

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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