There are several exciting events on my calendar for the coming months. A very special one for me is a 7-day retreat in Bali: the first RESONANCE course taught in English. My family and I spend time in Bali earlier this year and were deeply impressed by its nature, people, food and culture. It is such an ideal ‘getaway’ to immerse yourself in something new, that the wonderful ladies of Soundtherapy and I took the step of organising my retreat there. And now it is coming up! Bali has much to offer outside the workshop too, and for those who are short of time, we will spend one day exploring the waterfalls and rainforest.
RESONANCE is the name I use for more intensive courses, where we spend more time together to immerse ourselves in new worlds of sound. Learning to sing overtones is one of the primary goals of RESONANCE. I consider overtone singing as a wonderful tool for better listening and better singing, and of course it can also be an end in itself. To hear your own overtones and then to learn to conjure them up in your own voice at will is truly a new way of making sound.
Book this month to receive your early-bird discount! (up to November 30).
Time and again it is clear that students not only listen to the sound of their voice in a totally new way, but that other perceptions, sensations and feelings start to shift as well. Why? Well, one reason is that you break through habitual patterns of using sound. Sound or auditory sensations obviously make up a large part of your daily interactions. Breaking through your habitual listening patterns to a much more subtle level reinforces a sense of refinement, an ‘ear’ for detail that reaches beyond your ears lone.
When you are deeply aware of your breath and your body, and then cautiously but self-assuringly send out tones that bounce back to your ears like crystals, with so many shades, colours and even other tones, then that is a magnificent experience. In the beginning, you don’t know really how you are doing it, but with practise and guidance, you can come back to creating these crystal-like sounds again.
At this point things start to shift: maybe the sound ‘takes over’ and guides you somewhere; maybe you lose your sense of self, of being ‘the doer’, and you become the non-doer, an observer; or even something else, more detached from your normal doings. In another variety of this experience, your voice merges with others in a group-chant and you have no idea really who is making which sounds: your voice joins in to produce a magnificent cloud of dancing, bouncing sound waves from low to high.
For most people these sound-effects are more than just sound-effects. They start to perceive changes in space and time: two dimensions at the root of our being and of our orientation in the world. This is what I mean when I wrote that ‘other perceptions, sensations and feelings start to shift.’ When time and space begin to shift, questions rise up at the core of our existence. Space includes our body and our environment. The boundaries between these two (the inner and the outer world) may begin to crumble or become unclear. Where does that otherworldly sound really come from? Does it come ‘from me’, from ‘inside me’? It seems to have no fixed place anymore. How is that possible? You struggle to comprehend what you are doing, to relate that which you are doing with your mouth to that which is perceived by your ears.
Learning to sing overtones means you are breaking down the automatic loop where your ears confirm that they are hearing what you are saying or singing. You are no longer sure how the organs of the voice and the ears line up. In a way, we could say you are taking up a third position, being neither just the producer of the sound nor the perceiver. You are moving in-between, in a flexible sort of ‘space-time’ where the old rules of your voice and your ears no longer apply. In my book Overtone Singing I described it as a ‘theory of musical relativity.’ Just as Newton’s physics were absorbed into a bigger, more complete and more complex theory once Einstein formulated his new ideas, so our familiar musical structures (in particular those of pitch and harmony) are absorbed in a new, wider dimension of sounds.
The exciting part is, that this is not just theory: you are at the center of this as you explore the new possibilities of your voice. What you hear begins to change and often keeps on changing as you continue to practise. These new possibilities are a big challenge for non-singers and professional singers alike, for active musicians and for amateurs. There are plenty of counterintuitive practices to learn, there is a whole new set of ideas. That’s definitely exciting and also definitely intensive: time- and energy-absorbing. That is why RESONANCE looks further than just overtones.
If we were to focus only on overtones, you would have to exchange one musical universe (the ordinary one you know well) for a completely new one (the harmonic one). You would get exhausted and overwhelmed. And it would be wrong, because the more interesting and in fact also easier way is to connect with the many sides of your musical being already present. You are no doubt an avid listener who enjoys listening to different kinds of music, you have opinions about certain singers and players you love or hate. You also speak, talk, and maybe sometimes yell or scream, or moan and sigh.
RESONANCE aims not only to bring out that special, utterly unusual voice – your overtones. It lets you re-connect to your pre-existing sonic essence, to your everyday voice. It teaches you how to listen in surprising ways, to perveive your sonic self more completely. The workshop introduces you to a host of other sounds, body practices, mental and contemplative exercises, and useful background information presented in a non-technical way. You explore what resonates in you, and what resonates with others in the group. Sometimes our work takes on the shape of a theatrical workout or performance, sometimes that of a ritual. I am looking forward to see how the environment of Ubud, an incredibly rich place in terms of Hindu culture and performance traditions will effect our creative process.
For who is it?
You don’t have to be musically trained to learn. In my classes I have had absolute beginners in the field of music who would quickly pick up things, and expert musicians who were able to change their habits only with difficulty – and vice versa of course. The good thing is, in RESONANCE we really shake things up, start anew, we radically break down old patterns, and together build up something new. In that sense we all start at the same level, because even trained singers are usually surprised by the things I let them experience with their voices.
At times this workshop will be very structured, precise, with clear guidance and goals. At other moments it is completely unpredictable what comes out. We follow the group’s dynamic, its own sound history, its own resonance. What you need to bring to this workshop is a willingness to try out new things with your voice and a good deal of curiosity to learn about sound and what it can do for you.
The lovely team of Soundtherapy Hong Kong have helped to organise this first long retreat. Thanks Jennifer and Jasmine!
All the details are here:
For questions you can always contact them or me.
Book before November 30 to receive early-bird discount.