VOICE WORKSHOP - "Singing beyond music"
with Ulrik Barfod from the Roy Hart Theater
October 12 - October 16
THE ROY HART THEATRE is an international company based in France which has actively engaged for more than sixty years in methodical, continuous research of the human voice, this research is premised on the original idea that each voice has access to ”The Human Voice” which contains all possible vocal expressions of man and woman, deep and light, high and low, beauty and beast. The result is complex and not easily defined: it is a singing technique; it is a therapeutic work to activate, express and discipline the totality of being; it is an instrument for unveiling and exploring psychological realities; it is the harnessing of these possibilities for theatre or for daily life.
UNDERSTANDING, GROWTH AND ARTISTIC SENSIBILITY cannot simply be given to a student by a teacher. The aim of the teacher is to search for the strongest links between the voice and the singer, to begin the slow process of reconnecting with the deep body sources of each voice. Thus in our classes we begin by discovering the voice as it is. Starting from where they are, the professional singer and the most hesitate beginner each have somewhere to go.
Voice work has two directions – externally, in communicating with others. And internally, in awakening the singer’s imagination. There is no formula since each voice is unique. Students are invited to sing. To follow their voices, to move. To explore their imagination and to awaken different centres of energy. By entering a pre-verbal world, they rediscover the sources of language through contacting the pleasure of pure sound and the full resonances of their body. Both the emotional content of a sound and the passage from pure sound to articulate language are analysed and investigated.
AS AN EDUCATIVE PRINCIPLE, we do not force pupils into areas that they are not willing or ready to enter. While the teacher leads the pupil through accompaniment and encouragement, it is often the pupil who decides whether or not to break through a particular barrier. The teacher listens for opportunities to tap into the student’s vitality and get it to emerge through the voice. Techniques can include yawing, panting, shouting, sighing and a whole range of sounds from breath to loud or from clear well-defined sounds to multiphonics. As trust between teacher and student grows, the limits of the voice – of height can be extended. Each teacher in The Roy Hart Theatre is also a pupil and knows intimately what is being asked of the class participants.
During a workshop, the voice is explored in such a way as to contact sources of energy hidden deep in the body and to develop the self-discipline to harness this energy. For some, this can mean to attack the note with full energy, for others to work very gently. Exploration and extension of the voice’s range are linked to the body’s tensions, strengths and weaknesses, For example, a sound’s authenticity often depends on bodily relaxation while the capacity to draw upon energy often requires giving the body an intense physical workout. Our voice training is often quite physical, ranging from stretching, relaxation and body alignment work, to high-energy movement and dance. We train students to be able to relax their bodies and draw upon their energy sources at will.
THIS BIOLOGICAL TRANSFORMATION can involve a re-education of the personality through the voice. What someone feels the first time they make sound can be like their looking in a mirror and not recognizing their own face; the sounds are often unfamiliar to them. One needs a taste for discovery and the courage to take risks.
Our workshops also involve attentive listening to others in the class. This requires concentration and the capacity to identify with the other person’s efforts. In this way students catalyse and support each other’s progress during both individual and group work.
THE ROY HART THEATRE has no predetermined method. Theatre means to us the disciplined expression of the forces, which compose the psychic being in an artistic form. Each lesson is a new point of departure in the realm of expression, evolving from previous achievement. Because of the intimate connection between sounds and the psyche, our work has psychological as well as artistic implications. As one does the work, one discovers influences – energies, memories or ideas – that are constricting and repressing one’s voice and has opportunities to free one’s voice from those influences. This can be both the most important and the most difficult work, for the fear of life in human beings is at least as great as the fear of death. Although this process and some of our methods may seem similar to certain psychological therapies, our focus remains primarily artistic.
THE IMMEDIATE PRACTICAL RESULTS of this work are a stronger less restricted voice and contact with greater sources of imagination and means of expression. Musicality – in the form of good pitch, reliable intervals, smooth registration and greater breath volume – can be discovered or increased.
As frontiers are broken, the singer experiences the universality of music within, finding voices of other worlds, other countries, sounds which evoke nature, animals, and machines. In short, The Human Voice.