The voice lies at the heart of what it is to be human. I would like to introduce to you the extra-ordinary properties of what are essentially vibrations of air… The human Voice!
The voice is one of your most powerful instruments, lying at the heart of the communication process. It is shaped by your earliest infant experience and by powerful social conventions. It bridges your internal and external worlds, travelling from your most private recesses into the public domain, revealing not only your deepest sense of who you are, but also who you wish you weren’t.
‘Optimal voice integration’ is the correct use of the voice in each body of work by making the one useful to the other as a basis for expressiveness. All unnecessary tension in the body can be at odds with the free and natural voice, so working on relaxation is the starting point.
Relaxation implies feeling free, alert and ready for action without any unnecessary tension. It is a constant harmony between the muscles in the body. Relaxation proves to be integrally part of the voice because the voice singles out the slightest feeling of unease. I have noted that unnecessary tension in the body may constrict the voice and make it difficult for the vocal folds to produce optimal vocal sounds. Along with relaxation, a correct posture is required in order for the voice to be easily produced. Posture is the arrangement of muscles and bones in the body which puts the body into its natural alignment. When the spine and the muscles are in optimal relationship in carrying the body of the individual, the best vocal results will emerge. If any part of the body are out of alignment, then another part of the body is required to take on that burden that may cause a change reaction and constrict the body in its optimal functioning.
When the body is free of all tension then the breath required simply ‘drops’ and ‘falls into place’. This process is organic – the individual do not need to think about it or force the process. Normally, the individual only begins to think about breath and has a growing awareness of it when it is either irregular or when useless tensions enters the body. The free and lower breath gives us access to our feelings. Individuals who do not breathe easily and whose breathing remains low has to push for all their emotional responses and are quickly fatigued. The amount of breath in each communication needs to precisely match the thought and feeling, for optimal physical stamina and vocal release.
The emotional being of the individual is yet another area to take the person out of the desired ‘optimal integration’ of voice and body and into the complexity of considering the individual subject position. Positive and happy emotions affect the body in ways that provides us with healing and health. The different healing effects of voice production is explored, based on each person’s individual experiences. This subjective language acts as the lens available through which the person’s personal experience could be understood. When we are happy, our heart rate slows down, our breath is relaxed and deepened and our blood pressure goes down. Meanwhile, when negative energy is present, everything is the exact opposite; our blood pressure is high and our breathing rapid and shallow as we get ready for the fight. Yet we try to avoid strong negative emotions – why? Is it because we were not taught an appropriate method for emotional release or that we believe that we do not have an outlet for our emotions?
This expressive communication art enables the individual to explore with the emotional release vocally and physically in both a structured and an improvised manner. The outcome of this is release in the muscles, which makes adjustments both physically and psychologically through vocalization that brings us back to freeing the natural voice, and make us realise our full potential.
Taking all the environmental and spatial requirement of sound into account, the other side of the ‘loudness’ equation concerns human emotions. The higher our emotional tension, the louder our voices became. When we restrict our voices, it is often in an attempt to cap a ‘loud’ emotion that is bubbling to the surface and ready to escape. Casual voluntary mimicking of expressions of emotion can be easily detected as fake – something always fails, whether in the configuration of the facial muscles or in the tone of voice. Voice Production in expressive communication aims to release various muscle tensions in the body which blocks the flow of breath, reduces the flexibility of the articulators, inhibits the fullness of resonance, and limits the fluidity of vocal range and expression.
For the moment you open your mouth and start to speak, your voice is doing something terrifyingly intimate – leaking information about your biological, psychological, and social status. When you speak, your voice reflects your psychological and emotional state of mind. It’s a superb guide to another person’s vitality and authenticity as well as your own. What does your voice say about you?
“Know your voice – it is strong, it is a sensation, it is resilient and it is YOU” (Kristin Linklater).