The Singing Voice: Why Silence is Stifling our Emotional Expression.

From the moment we’re born up until the time we learn to speak, we use the extremities of our voice to communicate our needs through crying, moaning and grunting… whatever babies do to get the attention of their parents. Those sounds are considered part of the singing voice because they aren’t contained to any structure of text or language. The singing voice is considered to many to be our greatest connection to the human spirit. Perhaps that’s why you find every religion’s main form of worship centred around vocal proclamation. However, once we learn to speak, manipulating and conditioning ourselves to society’s norms of communication, we lose our instinctual ability to use the extremities of our voice as we communicate, so we’re boxed in. For many, that is the beginning of the deterioration of their singing voice.

In today’s society most people have trouble expressing their emotions. People share what they think, not what they feel. We live in a world of science and rationalisation. We push away the unquantifiable, and unfortunately it’s not easy to describe in physical terms what emotions are.

You get yelled at if you shout and dance for joy (you’re told to be quiet)

You get yelled at if you cry (you’re told you’re too dramatic, be a man get over it)

Until people feel nothing at all.

And if they do, they push it so far under the surface it’s irretrievable. It seems impossible to tell someone you love them without seeming too “obsessed.” Or yell and scream without seeming like the crazy person down the street. Any form of heightened emotion, let alone the vocalisation of such, is deemed barbaric. As your grandmother might say, “that’s not how a young lady should act.”

So where do most people find the connection to something deeper?

SEX !

One of the very few places in society where it is praised to vocalise your heightening of sensations is none other than in the bedroom… or the kitchen, or the beach, a rooftop, car, whatever gets you going. It is one of the moments in life where humans attempt to connect to their body’s desire to communicate emotions. Expression of emotion and vocalisation both come from the brain’s endorphin system. Maybe that’s why there has been such an increase in sexual conversation in our society. We’re told to be ourselves, but are never given the platform to do so. So once the doors shut, throw me on your bed, so I can finally feel something.

When we moan, it’s hot. You get praise, you keep doing it, and it feels good… Euphoric. There’s nobody telling you “NO.” And let’s face it, there’s nothing more satisfying than when you’re cumming to let out some kind of vocalisation. And if you’re with someone who makes you feel amazing emotionally and physically then that’s when your human spirit is at its most freeing, vulnerable and bearing state. You’re allowing your physicality and emotions to connect on such a heightened level that when you finish, you have no choice but to sing about it.

Now to the serious bit.

What happens when that’s taken away? So many people are conditioned to repress their desire to sing their sexual intention. Whether that be from religion, a parental expectation, slut-shaming, sexual orientation, you name it. A week after I lost my virginity the word slut suddenly flew into the mouths of those around me. But don’t worry, that didn’t stop me. On some level my 16 year old self realised the importance of embracing my sexuality as a fundamental connection to my emotional growth as a human. That’s not to say I had sex every moment I got the chance, but I never felt ashamed in doing so when the moment was right for me. I feel lucky I’ve gotten to love the people I have freely, without being called homo, fag, or having been abandoned by my family without my story, my identity, my song being suppressed. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for most. It breaks my heart knowing so many people on this earth will leave it without exploring all the potential that is inside of them because some idiot told them to “shut the fuck up”, suppressing their opportunity to sing. Much of my growth as a person and the ability I feel I have to speak up was a result of interactions I had with the people I loved. Consequently I learned that I, that we all, need to include ourselves first and foremost if we are to have a voice at all. I would have never gotten to that realisation without the exploration and connection to my human spirit.

We grow up in a society teaching us to be silent:

  • “Don’t speak unless you’re asked.”
  • “Why are you so talkative today”
  • “Shut up”
  • “That doesn’t answer MY question”
  • “Crying is for Pussies”
  • “No one likes a smartass”
  • “You can’t sing, you have a terrible voice.”
  • “You’re talking too loud”

Let’s take it even further. With an ever growing rape culture penetrating into our society, it seems horrifically ironic that a rapist’s first course of action is to silence their victim: Covering their mouth, shoving their head into a pillow, drugging their drink and waiting till they’re unconscious. After three years of college, I left realising that almost all of my closest female friends had in some way been sexual violated. (I say female due to the demographics of my circle of friends, not assuming this only happens to women) It is as if not remembering if you slept with someone, being pressured to do so, or feeling like you never got the chance to say “No, I don’t want this,” was simply part of a standard night out. The stories of my peers may not be as dramatised as what you see on TV, but in its passive nature that makes it that much more detrimental. We’re being brainwashed into believing:

  • “It’s “mean” to say no because she bought my drink or took me on a date.”
  • “He’s my boyfriend, so I can’t say no.”
  • “I can’t remember… But it’s my fault I was too drunk.”

We don’t say “no.” We don’t say “yes.” We stay silent. Before one can speak we’ve been robbed. Robbed from a voice. Stripped from a song. Severed from the most beautiful raw connection to the human spirit.

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Image Credits: The Dark Sisters by Ekaterina Bazhenova: Portfolio