What is ‘voice'?
Voice is a combination of physiological subsystems; controlled and determined by several interacting regions of the brain; and is a ‘psychosocial purveyor of meaning and character’.
Voice is noun, action and metaphor.
It is physical, neurological, emotional and psychological.
(Herbst, 2016; Dicther, et al., 2018; Zhang, 2016)
Last week I was in New York to participate in 'Risk! A Climate Cabaret', which takes a light-hearted but poignant look at climate change and financial risk. It follows the success of 'The Financial Follies', which took a wry look at the devastating impact of the subprime mortgage crisis. No, not a jot of this is light material; yes, it's worthy of drama, and my-oh-my does it give great running to Satire.
My participation dates back to 2016, when I first met the indomitable Professor Janis Sarra through the equally determined academic, director and writer Dr Helen Eastman. The week in New York saw Professor Sarra delivering her paper at the United Nations Commission on Trade Law. She was fronting the Canadian Delegation in Working Group V: Invsolvency Law, discussing asset tracing and recovery and considerations for further work. This is in pursuit of a mandate to further the progressive harmonization and modernization of the law of international trade. We'd been for pizza the night before. Life can be wonderful.
Since 2016, we've toured venues and conferences around the globe, gathering conversation and debate, working towards sustainable, just and urgent change.
The cabaret was performed at the beautiful Scandinavia House on Park Avenue, with music played on nothing less than comedian-conductor-pianist Victor Borge's baby Steinway. It was written and performed by brilliant MD-Composer Alex Silverman.
Performed by UK-based ensemble @live.canon and volunteer scholars, the event was co-hosted by Canada Climate Law Initiative | L'initiative canadienne de droit climatique, Live Canon, Allard School of Law, St John's University School of Law and the Center For Urban Environmental Reform.
Climate change is emerging as a serious financial risk. Scientists report that global warming poses an existential threat to humanity and to the planet. Bank regulators advise that absent new risk management strategies, a financial crisis due to climate change could be even more severe than the 2008 global financial crisis. At the same time, a just transition to net-zero offers tremendous economic opportunities.
With thanks to @voicestudycentre for their vital support.
#vocalcoaching #songanddance #research #reparation #justtransition #cabaret #conversation #hope
World Voice Day
Today is 16th April, 2023, and World Voice Day. Voice is a construct. It happens in the brain and the body. It's physical and psychological; motivational and emotional. A psychosocial indicator of who we are; or of who people think we are.
Voice is power. To be without voice, to lose your voice, is to lack the fundamental right to be heard. To be uncertain of your voice is to stand on shaky ground. Sometimes our voice resonates freely, with ease, and we've found the centre of the river, a sense of flow. Sometimes our voice jars, sticks in our throat, is caught up in the rapids or shallows of our emotions.
Those with voice aren't always right. They who shout the loudest, whether by volume in decibels or numbers, are often too noisy for others to truly engage with – but they can drown out the few, the quiet, the thoughtful.
Voice needs tending. The intricacy of the muscles that enable us to make sound, is extraordinary. The delicacy of our vocal folds and the variety of expression they are capable of, are extraordinary. The delicacy and variety of our characters, personalities, likes and dislikes, are extraordinary.
Few are actually tone deaf, but the number of people who claim to be so as they shy away from the sound they make is saddening. The number of people who are afraid to speak their mind, because we live in a world of ever-decreasing nuance where to feel certain is to feign security, is saddening. The number of people who are determined to speak their need for certainty, because to claim knowledge is power, is saddening.
On this World Voice Day, 2023, try to take a moment to consider yours. Is it tired and needs rest? Does it need a drink, whether water for your body or nourishment for your soul? Do you know yours? Do you use yours? Or do you cloak it with a lowered pitch, a pressed sound, or any other costume you think will help you navigate your current situation?
Like our feet, our voice is often neglected. Yet, like our feet, our voice carries us throughout life, connects us to the world and those surrounding us. Voice is the most complex of our communicatory tools: verbal and non-verbal; linguistic and emotional. There are known to be at least 24 emotions contained in vocal bursts (the sounds we make without words – sighs and groans, oo's and ah's) alone.
Listen to the sounds of others; enjoy the sounds you make. Enjoy the sounds of others; listen to the sounds you make. They will tell you what you need to know, and let you know what you need to tell.
Sophie Scott is a coach, lecturer and researcher specialising in voice.