Sunday, March 06, 2011

colla voce—revisiting the title

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them.

Henry David Thoreau

As part of my attempt to determine where I am going from here, I have been looking back over the past five years I have spent writing on this blog. When I began writing for it in 2005, I was still grieving having stepped away from singing professionally. I titled the blog "Finding My Voice" because I saw it as an attempt to replace what I believed was lost. It did not take long, however, for me to discover that this new "voice" fit me well, and I changed the title to reflect that change in perspective.

As I contemplate what writing will look like for me now and in the future, and as I particularly contemplate what role this blog will play in that, I have again been thinking about the title, and continue to find it relevant. Colla voce is a musical term which instructs the accompanist to follow the soloist in a particular passage, giving the soloist the freedom to create their own tempo as they interpret the lyrics or the mood of the piece. The soloist is released to hasten or linger as they see fit, allowing themselves to surrender to the creative force within them, unconstrained by the limits of someone else's tempo and pacing.

In order to sing colla voce, the vocalist must have a certain degree of confidence. The vocalist doesn't follow the accompanist, the accompanist follows the vocalist. Rather than following, the voice is now allowed to lead, which requires both a willingness and an ability to do so. The vocalist must step out and sing with authority—they must command the piece, they must be able to be followed. Once that confidence is acquired, they are free to take the piece where they want it to go, in the manner in which they desire.

My daughter is a beginning vocalist. She is timid. She follows the piano—even if the piano is off, unfortunately. She is young, yet—lacking the self-confidence to be in control, too self-conscious to sing out, to create her own tempo, to take the lead. For too long, I've lived my life in this manner—afraid of getting it wrong. Afraid of being laughed at. Afraid of standing out. For too long, I've blended in the background, following someone else's tempo, singing someone else's song. Not any longer.

Our college director used to tell us, when we were learning a new piece, that if we were going to make a mistake, to make a LOUD one. This was the only way, he explained, for him to know what he needed to correct and be able to correct it early before we learned it wrong. I am forty years old now. I am not in sixth grade any longer. Such self-consciousness is not becoming. I must own my voice. My mistakes. My successes. I must take a deep breath and sing out, lest I waste away in quiet desperation, my song dying within me without ever having been heard.

I have a song to sing. A story to tell. A life to live. I will sing it, tell it, live it. I will take command of this composition, and I confidently will set my own tempo, interpreting these passages of life as I see fit within the grander scope of the style of the piece. I will make my mistakes, and I will no doubt make them loudly. But I will keep on making music out of my life, because, in the end, that is what I am called to do. To let no song be left unsung.

This blog will be where I continue to allow myself to "hasten or linger as I see fit," writing about the topics that are important to me in a way that is meaningful to me. If you find meaning in them, as well, please continue to join me. And in the future, keep an eye out for additional venues to appear, as I continue to hone my voice and search for my unique little space in this vast universe of the written word.

Here's to singing out, and seeing where the voice leads!

No comments: