The human voice is a means of communication as old as the human race itself.
Since the first ape’s sound, aimed at warning others about approaching predators, every sound emitted by the human vocal apparatus has been full of meaning and emotions.
Everyday we face our lives speaking, screaming, whispering, crying, and singing.
Every time we use our voices it is for a specific purpose: to communicate something. A newborn baby that cries, despite not having learned to speak, knows instinctually that its vocal chords are to be used to communicate to another being. This primitive instinct is so deeply rooted in ourselves that we use sounds and react to them far before we consciously think of what we are doing.
Let’s go back a little, to the origin of the Universe itself (no, I’m not joking).
Scientists discovered that our entire existence is bound to a sound, a vibration, a sort of background noise that has accompanied the Universe itself since the Big Bang. Moreover, the sound, being a vibration, is something that can interact with everything imaginable, since matter itself is formed by “vibrating” particles.
The easiest way for a human being to produce a sound is to use its voice.
What does this mean for a singer? If we already communicate by speaking why do we feel compelled to sing?
Communication is far from being perfect, aside from different languages that create barriers and separate people, different meanings associated with words by their speakers make actual communication almost impossible.
When i say “water” every individual will have a different feeling, a different experience that will lead them to like or not like the word I’m using. If I am thirsty or have suffered from thirst I will probably see water as my salvation, a relief, or the most beautiful thing in the world, where as if I’ve had an almost drowning experience I could look at water as something threatening that almost took my life away. This all translates in a different reaction to the word itself and I will not be able to fully understand what the other person meant when they spoke it.
A melody is usually perceived more deeply than words. Music is proven to interact with our subconscious as well as to generate emotions. And not only to humans: whenever I think about the “power” of music, Mozart and the “Mozart-effect” come to my mind.
So this is probably what it is: we seek a deeper level of communication when we sing. It is very common for a music listener to become emotional when listening to specific tunes or singers.
It is also extremely interesting how in non-english speaking countries, people are so attracted to English songs that they can’t fully understand (or at all, in some cases).
An interesting example of how music goes beyond mere lyrics and words can be found in Italy, a country world renowned for its art. In Italy people sing everything, everywhere. The majority of Italians try to sing foreign songs without the slightest idea what the song says or means. It is funny to see people singing sounds that have nothing to do with English (or any language at all) but follow the well known melody and imitate its phonemes. Of course understanding the language of a song would help people understand what the original artist meant, it would give them a better experience, right? Maybe, or maybe not.
It is highly possible that people like songs they can’t fully understand better because they can find their own meaning in them.
The human voice and singing are a means of communication that go deeper than words. A singer should “feel” what they sing. Singing is opening up to whomever is listening. When singing, a singer reaches deep inside of themselves to express that which is otherwise inexpressible.
We (as human beings that try to sing or as aspiring singers) try to produce a vibration that embraces and caresses us, that embraces the world itself.
Great singers tend to get emotional when they sing. I believe Bono from U2 once said that “singing is like having an open-heart surgery”, or maybe it was someone else… I can’t remember now, but that sentence really hit me.
Anyway, this vibration that comes from within is something extremely powerful and even today, in this crazy world that waits for no one, it can make the difference in an individual’s life.
This wonderful musical instrument we have built in ourselves, then, is more than what we think, it doesn’t just allow us to communicate but creates a bond with other people and it’s rooted in the origin of the human race itself.
I believe, as a singer, that this knowledge can really help us see things in a different light.
Singing is often used as therapy as well, when an individual feels the need to connect to themselves deeply, singing can be of great help.
This vibration we can consciously produce has the power to dig into our emotions and right what makes us feel bad.