On Voice Power

Day 192 Week 28 Q3 Wednesday, July 12, 2023

On Voice Power

Have you ever noticed that music with vocals was much more popular than instrumental music?  Instrumental music is abstract and vocal pieces generally have lyrics that tell a somewhat literal concrete story. Also, it is a lot easier to identify a person’s voice than, for example, a piano player’s piano playing. Most musicians do not believe they can sing and have been one of them for many decades, assuming that the best an instrumentalist could be is a sideman or side-woman. Of course, there were a handful of exceptions, but statistically, the expressiveness and flexibility of the human voice simply outperform all other instruments.

The bottom line is you are far more employable if you sing than if you do not. And the key issue between singing and not singing appears to be psychological, not physiological. This means most people can sing. But as in many other things in life, you have to believe it for it to be so. Somewhat amazingly, it took me many years to sing even though over time I had received some positive feedback, the negative thoughts I had regarding me singing as a child younger than ten years old somehow persisted for decades.

I had no fear of giving a speech in front of hundreds of people, but was terrified and sometimes still am to sing in front of a single person. For some crazy reason, I felt more confident delivering information than I felt hitting a note accurately. Now entering my eighth decade, I have somehow become capable of being a lead vocalist, to my utter amazement and delight. And somehow, this ripples through my entire musical being in surprising ways.

It has made more genres of music and simpler music forms seem appealing to me. It has tremendously reduced the instrumental demands to be a virtuoso. It has reduced the tempos and gymnastic complexity I perform at. And it has removed any hesitation regarding being a bandleader. It has made far easier the ability to communicate musical ideas to an ensemble by providing a rapid example.

It has also reminded me that the power of the voice and the tone of voice can also impact leadership in nonmusical situations. This newfound ability increases my sense of personal power and meaning, and I was certainly not a shy thinking violet before.

The fact that holding a single note for several beats can have more impact than playing thirty in the same time period is a mind-boggling metaphor for life. It is akin to exchanging the power, complexity and density of the city for the unhurried down-to-earth naturalness of the country.

This relatively simple physiological behavior transforms a plethora of psychological feelings and conclusions in a way that can only be described as magical.  I wonder what else we can do that we do not believe we can do?