Evan Bortnick http://musa-vocalis.de/
It’s fascinating in which contexts individuals intend to be emotionally transparent and in which contexts the intention goes more in the direction of concealment. Even more fascinating is it when you actually consciously intend to be emotionally transparent, yet something automatically clicks in which conceals the emotion at hand, even from yourself. My own process over the last 2 years or so has to do with observing these kinds of auto-pilot concealment responses in myself.
My working hypothesis has always been that the voice ALWAYS transfers emotional content, even and especially, when the speaker’s (or singer’s) intention is to mask it! If this is even remotely true, then why should this be? The only answer I can come up with revolves around a primal inner need for TRUTH on all levels. I think we all understand the risks and dangers involved here. If what we said ALWAYS and without exception revealed all we consciously, pre-consciously and unconsciously feel, we’d have consequences which we perhaps are not prepared to deal with.
Here’s an example from a recent voice seminar for speakers. In the introductory questionnaire one of the participants said that one of her goals for the course is to control her voice to the extent that her listeners couldn’t know what she’s feeling. As I asked her about this on the first evening of the course, two other participants said enthusiastically that they wished that as well. When I asked more directly if it was really their intention to present something with their voices which is not what they’re feeling, they all answered in the affirmative. So I asked them to imagine they had the following choice:
- To feel something consciously and to consciously falsify or pretend that they were feeling something else?, or…
- To feel something consciously and to consciously transform what they were feeling and express THAT FEELING congruently with their voices?
“Ah, well, given that choice, of course we would choose the latter!” As I said, FASCINATING how, given the choice, congruency, authenticity and direct emotional transparency reigns. OK, I asked, now imagine that the entire process of feeling something undesired and transforming it into something desired was part and parcel of the communication process? In other words, your multi-contextual, multi-emotional HUMANNESS comes to the fore when you speak. IMO that’s the way it is ALL THE TIME anyway. By making it conscious, by being mindful of all the many voice factors of emotional transparency (volume, frequency, prosody, medial compression, tempo, rhythmic emphasis, resonance and so much more), we enrich their mature emotional expression.
There was a young man in the course with a beautiful speaking voice— deep, resonant, direct. He spoke, however, in a kind of distant monotone. He had the facial expression to match; a friendly, slightly stiff smile with eyes somewhat distant and removed. When I asked him if he considered himself to be an emotional person, he answered (too quickly) definitely not. The others in the group dropped their jaws and raised their eyebrows simultaneously. To make a weekend-long-story short, on the last day his face had transformed and his voice filled the room with congruent emotion, even when he spoke softly. The amazing thing was that we did no psycho-archeology WHATSOEVER….no mention of his family or digging up past trauma, no family constellations, no mention of suppression, repression, displacement, projection or anything of that nature. We simply and purely isolated-exercised-integrated the vocal factors mentioned above. Nothing more!
This is my point: the VOICE, whether speaking or singing, has all these qualities and all this potential inherent within it! Whether it be explicit or implicit, transformational work on the voice is transformational work on the entire human system.
Evan Bortnick http://musa-vocalis.de/