In late 2000 I was very excited to receive a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council to record Voiceweaving Basics (part 1). It was a busy year for me. I’m also a visual artist and during that year I worked with a team to create new exhibits for Portland’s Children’s Museum (which had relocated and was reopening in a huge new space). During construction artist studios were in the museum basement.
At the New Year construction crews (above us) were removing concrete floor slabs with jackhammers. The noise echoed throughout the cavernous basement where we worked. One afternoon I noticed that my left ear was plugged up. Must be ear wax, I thought. But by evening I wasn’t able to stand up without losing my balance and I couldn’t hear anything out of that ear. I was stunned to learn from my audiologist that I had suffered Sudden Hearing Loss, for which there was no real treatment other than to wait and see if hearing returned.
I was devastated. Every listening experience was now accompanied by harsh white noise and muddled understanding of conversations around me. Forget about singing – I couldn’t hear a partner well enough to harmonize on pitch and singing in groups was impossible. I was facing the real possibility that I wouldn’t be able to sing and improvise with others, or continue sharing Voiceweaving.
During that year, however, my brain was learning how to compensate for the loss and decipher sound through the white noise. By the fall of 2001 a few friends gathered in the studio of Barbara Bernstein – a musician, radio producer, social activist and dear friend to create the game samples shared in Voiceweaving Basics (part 1).
I will forever be grateful to these folks for agreeing to “jump in” and play with me: David Chilstrom, Shannon Day, Tony James, David Seitz, Izetta Smith, Elaine Velasquez. What you’ll hear on Voiceweaving Basics posts are strait forward exercises you can do on your own or with friends. We kept our samples simple so that everyone who wants to can also “jump in and play.” I hope you enjoy them!
Below is a sound meditation you can do on your own. There are places to pause the recording so can take your own time in moving through it. Also below you’ll find a delightfully fun exercise to do with a partner: Call and Response. You can do this with friends, relatives, your kids, co-workers – anyone who’s willing to take a few minutes to playfully engage in sounding.