I can hear the birds chirping outside the window, and feel the sun coming through the curtains. I spent the weekend doing a Voice Medicine workshop with Trish Watts, a beautiful singer and Voice and Movement Therapist from Australia. It's hard to explain what Trish does exactly because she has such a vast array of tools to draw on in her work. Sometimes we were singing in harmony, sometimes we were chanting or toning, and sometimes we were working individually finding the animal and human voices within ourselves who wanted to speak, sing, growl, howl, whisper or scream.
I discovered within myself a great bird of prey. Melinda said it sounded like an eagle; the image I had was even bigger, like a velociraptor from the movie Jurassic Park. Huge. Fierce. Frightening. I had big heavy wings and emitted piercing bird squawks from my tail bone up through my shoulder blades/wings and out my nose. My beak.
It wasn't a pretty or a soft or even a noble image to me, but it felt true. I felt the impatience of the bird, the big, muscular impatience--so similar to my own. Impatience is my bugaboo. But can you blame the eagle--or whatever-it-was? It's hard to be confined to a small domestic life when you are made for soaring and planing and hunting and diving.
Trish worked with every single person in a completely unique way--and each person's session was radically different than the others'. She has a vast vocabulary of musical styles and voices in her own body to draw from and she did. I would have liked to work more on connecting the voices and images I found to my work, to writing, to art--that is the bridge that I need to make. To bring all that energy and ferocity into a form. But there were a lot of people, and not enough time.
The question I am left sitting with is where is the morality and compassion in the great bird? (Where is the morality and compassion in America, land of the eagle?)
I watched Trish work with other people, some of whom needed great doses of gentleness and tenderness which she supplied. Outwardly i was patient and still and attentive, but I was aware that my deepest impulses in those moments were to squawk and fly. I felt like the bird who kicks her babies out of the next. Blame it on menopause. It is not that I don't have a deep well of tears within myself, not that I don't like to nurture in a mammalian way. But there is this other, much more yang side which has a more ferocious agenda. I did not feel like a full-breasted mammal in those moments.
When I got home, Christopher was playing music with himself, thanks to the miracle of modern technology. He has filled our living room/dining room area with pianos, an organ, a drum-set, a full set of vibes, and he had some electric guitars plugged in as well. He also has a sound system/recording devices which allow him to lay down tracks, and then play harmonies with himself. He had laid down some basic tracks and was soloing on top of them; the space was filled with music. It sounded like a whole band was jamming together.
I crept past him into the kitchen, whispering, "Don't stop, don't stop." I didn't want to interrupt his creative process as he has so little precious time for himself. But a few minutes later he found me in the kitchen and invited me to join him. I had described for him how Trish had divided us into groups of three; one person held a drone, the other did a simple bass part (vocally) and the third did some solo scat singing on top of that.
"Would you like to improvise with me?" Christopher asked. I was scared. He is an accomplished musician and I have imperfect intonation and often wobble trying to find the right pitch. But I said yes, on the condition that I could be bad and make mistakes. He set up a mic stand for me, and sat at the piano. And I realized (thanks to the workshop) that I could do a simple bass part of a drone, or even a high harmony/bass (does that make sense? I mean, not a melody, not a complex scat, but what would be a bass part, only in a higher register) and let him do the fancy solo stuff on the piano.
And then words started coming through me, the beginnings of a song, and we really were improvising together!!