The Alchemy of Singing
By Beth Lawrence - 08/03/2011 - 08:20 PM EDT
Have you ever stopped to realize how magical the actual process of singing is? Most of our focus is on proper technique; how wide our range is; or how well we hit the high notes, right? But singing is so much more than that! When we're always in our 'thinking' mode we lose the true essence of this delicate process and lose touch with the 'art' of singing.
Singing is all about communicating, and though our channel of communication needs to be both clear and pleasant to the ear, there is so much more that goes on subliminally that we need to be aware of. Optimally, you should be singing from the heart, not the head. That way, you will be communicating on a deeper level, and will connect with your audience at the level of emotion. Most singers are hung up on the esthetics of singing rather than the subtleties of singing, and there's a big difference.
To fully understand how singing at the level of emotion works, you have to understand the alchemy of singing. So let's get a basic understanding of alchemy and how it can change the way you think about singing and optimum performance as a singer.
There's a chapter on alchemy in my book From Shower To Stage...7 Easy Steps for Singing Like A Pro! that I'd like to quote from: "When we attempt to convey emotion through song or speech, we are using the art of Alchemy to transmute air into a medium that others can hear, translate and feel." Yes, basically it comes right down to plain old physics applied to performance art! The bottom line here is that in order for your audience to feel anything as a listener, you must be feeling something as you're singing your song!
There's a whole chapter in my book devoted to this concept which takes this a step further: "Your emotion must underlie every word, every lyric, every note. Your entire spirit must be flowing through your words; flowing through the air; flowing through the listenerís ear, into their brain, where it will be translated from pure sound vibration into feelings that will flow into the heart. That is Alchemy - the transmutation of air, into vibration, into nerve impulse, into thought, and finally into emotion."
If you haven't realized it by now, it's time to start thinking of the importance of understanding your lyrics and attaching emotions to those lyrics as you sing them. To be a great singer you have to be a Master Alchemist. By this I mean that you understand that the air you breathe becomes the medium on which your words flow to the listener's ear - imbued with thought, emotion and intention. Isn't it amazing that air, modified by our thought, becomes a sound vibration that is carried to a human ear, transformed into a vibratory nerve impulse that the brain then interprets as a mental picture; an emotion; a thought; a memory, and/or all of the above! Air becomes emotion? Yes, in a very real sense, the air we breathe, when acted upon by our thought, and modified by our vocal mechanism, acts upon the heart and mind, as emotion! That, in a nutshell, is alchemy.
Singing is an art, and conceivably, also a science when you think of the physical and emotional alchemy that goes into every note. It is not enough to be technically perfect, in fact, being technically perfect will leave your audience cold if you don't emotionally charge every note of your technically perfect voice! What is it that makes your audience connect with you? You. You are the catalyst for transmuting the air you breathe into the emotion the audience feels. My best advice would be to stop thinking, and start feeling. A whole new world will open up to you each time you take the stage or share your music when you share your feelings rather than your perfection. When you are able to do this you will be changed forever, and your audience will have a transcendent experience that is magical; is masterful; and is the alchemy of singing.
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