Where did Voiceweaving come from?
I discovered Voiceweaving while singing with my dear friend, Izetta Smith, during the 1970’s and early ’80s. We worked together in a theater company and later as touring musicians. In the process of warming up for rehearsals and performance we relaxed by sounding out wordless musical phrases. Through the years I began to notice that there were organic touch-points through which we entered an improvisational flow. I began shaping these discoveries into sound games so that I could share them with others. Working with many different groups over the years I’ve come to realize that everyone can access this amazing flow of creative potential through sound play.
The Deeper Story:
For thousands of years our ancestors were tribal people, somewhere on the Earth. The history and wisdom of entire cultures passed through successive generations, as sound and movement were patterned into rituals through which our ancestors told their stories and shared questions, feelings and perceptions about life.
Through these rituals our ancestors experienced profound communion with a divine source that inspired them. Art and life were one, and sound became a vehicle for expression, communication and transportation into other realms of awareness. I believe we’ve inherited the ability to travel into a state of timeless wisdom, just as we’ve inherited the eye color, stature and innovative drive of our ancestors. We only need to access deep memory to re-stimulate it.
As I mentioned earlier, I discovered Voiceweaving while singing with my friend, Izetta. We began our frequent warm-ups with vocal play to let go of thoughts and feelings that would distract us from listening to one another during rehearsal or performance. As we sang, extraordinary things happened.
Specific topics faded as we relaxed and each became aware of an inner-directed explorer whose desire for playful, direct communication seemed to dissolve barriers between us. Rhythmic patterns emerged, shaking loose our bodies as our minds surrendered to a state of profound listening. We followed the sound through our bodies and entered into deep memory.
In this state, melodies and harmonies evolved spontaneously, awakening timeless voices which carried the song-lines of many people, and perhaps our souls’ journey through time. Unique sounds, rhythms and vocal qualities emerged, expanding our voices as an intuitive flow developed, enabling us to travel effortlessly from playful storytelling to tender lullabies, through keening, fiery chants, into profound moments of communion.
Singing in this way enriched our daily lives with the pleasures of full-body play, exploration, and a deep sense of being part of the timeless flow of life. During the many years we sang together, I noticed patterns that seemed to recur as we improvised. I began to map the sequence of musical events, wondering if others could use them to access that playful state and deep memory.
To my continuing surprise, these simple sound games serve as a pathway to deeper personal awareness, playful communion, improvisational group harmony, circle-songs and spontaneous storytelling for everyone who jumps in.
In shaping and sharing this form, I’ve learned that we can re-stimulate access points to enter the flow. Once in the creative river, however, we are on a journey of the moment. The evolving song is a synthesis of focused listening and response between singers, unique to each group. As we travel through our bodies into a state of deep awareness, we play and delight in discovery. What we find there becomes part of the rich tapestry of our lives and can be shaped into songs we share with others.