Singing what isn’t there

“As you sing, listen for what isn’t there.”

An enigmatic invitation from the Rob, the singing teacher at our weekly group. I love this drop-in gathering, it starts my whole day well. For a start, it gets me breathing properly – something I don’t often do, rushing from here to there. And there’s just something about singing together that’s hugely freeing and enlivening. It’s beyond sharing a tune or two, and to be honest I’m usually in tears by the end of the session. It just touches my heart in some way.

So we were singing a simple round, in three parts. As usual I was concentrating hard on ‘getting it right’, making sure I didn’t slip up or let my fellow tenors down. The invitation, therefore, surprised me. More than that, it enchanted me for the rest of the day.  How do you even hear what isn’t there?

The conclusion I’ve come to so far, is that in order to hear what isn’t there, you have to cosy up to what is there. You have to have some kind of familiarity. Like an time-tested friendship, you nestle into its form so that you can be held by it. And once securely held, you can let your attention out on a long leash again, and yes, yes you can begin to hear what’s calling to you, out beyond that holding.

I didn’t quite dare to find and give voice to what wasn’t there, that day. I don’t yet trust myself yet not to sing a clashing disharmony that breaks the spell of the voices around me. But I’m intrigued that I might find the spaces between the sung melody. Perhaps I could hear its ghost-song sister, even if I don’t give her voice just yet.

I’m still enchanted by the possibilities woven by the relationship between structure and space, between the known and unknown, the manifest and the veiled. All that from a simple invitation to sing. Thank you Rob!

4 thoughts on “Singing what isn’t there

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  1. I have on occasion been able to listen to the silence beyond the din in the centre of town. Not always, or even very often, but it is a beautiful and relaxing experience.
    I wrote a Christmas story about it, which won first prize in a competition 😀


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