The Voice

This creative project is inspired by Dr. Yurika Tamura’s unit on memory, body, and location of resistance put into conversation with Professor Scott Denham’s unit regarding Paul Celan’s poetry, language, and translation. For essential information on Celan and translation, read my revised essay under ‘Language’.

In her unit, we discussed postcolonial melancholia and intergenerational trauma – specifically regarding how the trauma of the mind manifests in the body. We defined melancholia as a loss of something that isn’t an object and the experience of being unable to name what you lost. In viewing post-colonialism, we observed the loss of language, as European colonialists entered countries with a culture deeply attached and reflected in their language and forced them to abandon their native tongue.

With this jarring thought, I wondered how I would choose to communicate my pain and realized I would choose to sing. I have always been intrigued by the relationship between lyric and song because how do you communicate a feeling without the language to form it? I believe there is an innate emotive quality in the tone of voice – a power in bodily expression.

My voice is where I carry all of my pains and anxiety. As a voice student at Davidson, I have been able to observe these emotional reflections. There are days where my voice is exhausted from late nights doing homework or singing brings me to tears. It’s hard, and it’s hard to forgive your body and your voice when it’s just too tired. I see the voice as the meeting place between the body and the mind. The physical stresses and the mental stresses manifest is the voice. Sometimes those stresses are what make the voice so beautiful; it adds layers of tensions, passion, and emotion into the tone that words just can’t communicate. That’s when singing is it’s most beautiful. The singer, however, has to let that come out.

The sound clip below is my exploration as I express my personal experiences of pain without poetry and without language. It was captured by placing my phone inside a piano, holding the sustain and soft pedals, playing a G minor chord, and vocally improving with vowels only. By holding the sustain and soft pedals, my voice is able to vibrate the strings and create a sort of echoing effect. This is a symbol of universal resonance; my voice is not limited by the cultural boundaries of language as is carries on through reverberations of the strings.