Categories Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

The Sisters of Sound- Soila Sariola Part 1

…”People speak many different languages from all over the world, but music is their common ground. “… Charles Hazel-Wood ( Conductor- BBC Proms- Human Planet)

Actors when in training have to be centred both in the mind, body and voice. It is an understanding of the human psyche, the concept within the role which is ultimately built upon the range of human experiences through body, sensorium, mind, emotion intuition & spirit (M. Fortier, Theory/Theatre an introduction 2016)

Throughout the week of rehearsals, each morning would consist of a type of body movement or vocal class. It would centre around the use of the body being used as an instrument. When we think of the body, we think of the physical form, but what about the voice, and the existential projection that most humans possess. Language is one form of communication, but we cannot always connect in this way, yet Charles Hazel-Wood states, it is music that is our common ground.

Yet to understand Music, we really have to understand sound… And this first place is within ourselves and the vocal range that  the human can possess, if he channels it beyond the vocal chords.

These experimentations of creating sounds with the body began with the first session with Soila Sarola. A professional Alto singer and is a graduate specialising in Finnish folk music, where the voice is the main instrument. She is one of the members of the Finnish six-voice a cappella ensemble Rajaton, a Finnish word for ‘boundless’ and has released over 16 albums with the group. Soila also composes music scores for choirs and is a graduate of Finnish Folk Music.

 

 

 

Soila paced the students through various sound exercises and vocal training, to progressively pull sound from the stomach and diapraham into the throat.  A technique that she learned at the Sibelius-Academy, Helsinki, Finland

I have met Soila and I am sure she will laugh when she sees this, but the internet is a wonderful place….  I have sourced this video of her, when she was training at Sibelus- Academy back in 1999. From an anthropological approach it is interesting the the training she is having here,  as it is based on one of the oldest forms of singing known to human.

Throat singing is one of the guttural styles of singing, that resonates from the stomach and diaphragm. It is one of the oldest forms of music. Throat singing produces resonant harmonies and one voice can produce two and potentially additional notes at any one time. It uses specific breathing techniques to harness it that many cultures use such as circular breathing. 

Throat singing originates from Russia Mongolia, Canada & China. The three types of throat singing which consist of Tuva, Inuit & Xhosa and many of the sounds were created before language was even developed and are how people told their stories of their land.  At the end of this session Soila and her classmates, then apply their vocal warming to some Finnish Folk songs.

Source: Images.8track.com

Like the people of Tuva, Inuit & xhosa, the sounds and the vocals are the stories of their culture. Finnish folk music and poetry are inspired by the land, the nature and the people. ( I will be writing a blog on this later)


The above song ‘Fabmun Didjiite’ is a song that all of the students became familiar with by the end of the project. It is ancient in its words and I at the time of writing this, I am struggling to find any content of the words, other than its origin of being scandnavian. Either which way, it became a core part to the students experience, but in order for them to perform this, they need to go back to the origins of creating sound. 

Throughout Soilas’ class, the focus was on being centralised, carrying that air from your throat, all the way to your belly and pushing the sound out.

She was talking a language, that all humans have the ability to connect with and that is the power of voice as an instrument. The sounds that are generated are older than human language and it is this shared human experience that offers a connectedness.

Its just now, this sound, was now being placed into 21st century digital stage and something quite magical happened.

She would often describe where the students would feel the sound when performing the exercises and would begin to slowly encourage students, to pick different pitches, volumes and tones within their voice spectrum.

As I was moved through the lines of students singing as I filmed, was the resonance of their voices and then slowly are really strongly the Polycom system started to cut in, (Completely doing the job it was designed to do) with the ‘noise cancellation’, but it didn’t reduce…. both groups of students, 1600K apart were harmonising their sound. It actually made a phonetic reverb. It was as if sound and time stood still and there was this synergy of sound being projected from the students, into the mics, sent over the internet to Tampere and visa versa….

The reverb and the cancellation were harmonising to create a beautiful sound, that was human but digitised also. And with the stereophonic sound layout of mics and speakers, it allowed sound waves and science to create a new sound.

It was like the sounds met and danced a parrelle sound dance, somewhere over the internet and a new form of music was being created…

 

It is an experience that I won’t forget…Something sensory, that was so powerful, it left my ears with a warm fuzzy feeling and lump in my throat, with a big smile on my face… it was real.

And there was silence. I looked away from my camera and saw the Soila beaming, the finnish students also smiling and the coventry students looking at one another, with a knowing that they had just experienced their first togetherness and oneness.

It was a 21st Century Human experience that was the start of the students in Finland and Coventry experience a first real connection that began the process of bringing them together. The technology was now becoming invisible, it was more of the enabler and this was only the start of the playing with the capacity of the technology and forming new ways of connecting on a human experience. This is where Art & Science were meeting on a digital stage with no distance…..


References:

Anon, Kalevalainen savelma (Trad.). The Artifice. Available at: https://the-artifice.com/finnish-folk-songs/ [Accessed April 9, 2017].

Anon, Scandinavia!: Songs and Dances of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden | Smithsonian Folkways. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Available at: http://www.folkways.si.edu/william-clauson/scandinavia-songs-and-dances-of-denmark-finland-norway-and-sweden/world/music/album/smithsonian [Accessed April 9, 2017].

Anon, Deezer Player Widget. Deezer Music Plugins – Player. Available at: http://developers.deezer.com/musicplugins/player?type=tracks&id=61662345 [Accessed May 9, 2017].

Anon, Scandinavia!: Songs and Dances of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden | Smithsonian Folkways. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Available at: http://www.folkways.si.edu/william-clauson/scandinavia-songs-and-dances-of-denmark-finland-norway-and-sweden/world/music/album/smithsonian [Accessed April 9, 2017].

T.P.C.Z., 2011. Khusugtun – Mongolian music in London – BBC Proms 2011 Human Planet. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5-IVY6BKYI [Accessed April 9, 2017].

 

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