The Second Sister of sound was a lady called Sam ‘Frankie’ Fox, who is a performance artist and is part of the KILN Theatre Company, Birmingham.
The ensemble is collaboration between a wide range of artists, that through a ‘collision of art forms they create original material that is lit with imagination , playful and focus is on the audience experience. I had only ever heard of the KILN theatre, but had never seen one of their performance.
Tom on the other hand, has known Sam for a while amongst the Theatre scene. That morning in the theatre as we both pulled in at 7:30 am, it was a time to prepare for what day had planned. This was my brief of what and who to expect…. and by the end of what he had shown me on Youtube, I could see why Tom had asked Sam to come and teach, especially after working with Soila the previous morning.
What Sam was bringing to the table, complemented, added another layer and by the end of the session I could see the linking of human experience, embodiment & performance.
Sams describes her performances with KILN productions, as hitting the audiences in the ‘heart, head and gutt. The performances seem immersive for the audience members and specifically ‘The Furies’ production.Audience members enter more of a gig than a theatre. It is playing with performance in a different way, to remove the audience member out of their comfort zone and displace them sensory, so that envokes something else within the self.
The previous day we experienced Soila teaching us a Viking Vocal class from the University of Tampere. An experience that had brought both groups of students, closer together through the voice and the telepresence screen
This would be the first day where we experienced the training within our side of the polycom system (telepresence screen), it would a faster paced experience. Whereby the students would use similar techniques to the previous day, but would also combine the use of body, to make sounds. One of the tasks was to perform a Swahili song…. This powerful song was layered in tones, words and pitches. It had a strong beat and was precise in the composition of the beat.
When this is combined with the polycom technology, music becomes interesting….. This time latency was played with, specifically the beat of the song. Sam had to work out the tempo, as she was conducting the students both in Finland and Coventry. It reminded me of a discussion that Tom had, had with Dr Michael Rofe – from the Online Orchestra during a DMLL seminar. He described how he had used latency within the musical performance, and when working with musicians, this latency can be really played with when performing music. (When using spoking word latency can have an impact on how we communicate)
Once the beat had been perfected and the words had been pronounced correctly, we began to sing, clap our hands and stamp our feet, with Sam moving around the group, lifting her arms on the higher note, beating her fist on her shoulder on the middle…. the same harmonising that we had experienced the day before happened again.
This harmonising was synced with the fact, that it brought both groups together. The verse sang had a tribal sound to it, a repetitive beat & tempo. And when you have to focus on your line, repeating it again and again with other people. A process of going into yourself, mind and body. Focusing on your words, your beat and your part of the song.
The neuroscience of singing shows that when we sing our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways. It fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins that make us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative. When we sing with other people this effect is amplified- Prof. S Wilson
I found myself moving & swaying naturally to this beat, an embodiment happened where my inner ‘Baloo the bear’ found his beat… and I found went into myself. I felt this inner beat…. Once I had grasped that beat I could then project the part that my group was singing and when we harmonised there was once again this happiness felt. A collective happiness that we as a group had created some music, collectively ,miles apart and the separation was invisible and the group was forming.
Professor Sarah Wilson is leading research in the neurological benefits of music. It has been proven that music has been shown to improve cognitive functions, spatial abilities, numeracy & thought. Benefits to self-confidence, inter-personal skills and self-discipline are also benefits. When a person sings it connects neural pathways, it kick starts the right temporal lobe of the brain….. And finally a your bodies happy hormones, suc as oxytocin . These are released into the body which promotes a happiness, wellbeing and creativity. ‘Music is to mental health what sport is to physical health’ (Pro. S Wilson 2014)
Stephen Clift of The Sidney De Haan Research Centre at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK also supports this research. When singing in groups, it promotes social bonding and forms part of a social identity. It creates an inner feeling that we are part of something bigger, a connected universe. It can remove us out of ourselves and take use from isolation to a collective. What is also interesting about this research is the idea that the mental and spiritual state is shared and with that shared state, comes empathy.
“Our Voices have been silenced and its not doing us any good!”
(Tania de Jong 2013)
Tania De Jong Ted Talk, discuss this research and the impacts that singing can have on the self, community and enhancement. Singing is so very human, it has developed with our brains as survival mechanism. ‘A tribe that sang well, was a tribe that survived’ describes Tania De Jong (2013). These sessions each morning, were part of this theatre tribe connecting and forming a strong song to bond. Once again the technology was the enabler in all of this and the distance became invisible.
There is is this theory that when you sing together , you breath together your heart beats as one…. Maybe this did or didn’t happen through the screen but one thing is for certain this tribe was forming through voice and a digital landscape.
YouTube. 2017. Edinburgh Showcase 2015: ‘The Furies’ by KILN – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAfKAZVVDHM. [Accessed 18 Feb 2017].
Music Mind and Wellbeing. 2017. Music Mind and Wellbeing. [ONLINE] Available at:http://mmw.unimelb.edu.au/people/1/. [Accessed 9 August 2017].
UPLIFT. 2017. The Neuroscience of Singing. [ONLINE] Available at:http://upliftconnect.com/neuroscience-of-singing/. [Accessed 9 August 2017].
Tania de Jong AM. 2017. Group Singing: The Future of Humanity · Tania de Jong AM · Singer, Entertainer, Speaker & Entrepreneur . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.taniadejong.com/blog/group-singing-future-humanity/. [Accessed 9 August 2017].
YouTube. 2017. How singing together changes the brain: Tania de Jong AMÂ at TEDxMelbourne – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_HOBr8H9EM&vl=en. [Accessed 13 August 2017].
Online Orchestra. 2017. Online Orchestra . [ONLINE] Available at: http://onlineorchestra.com/. [Accessed 11 August 2017].
Barba, E, 1994. The Paper Canoe : A Guide to Theatre Anthropology. 5th ed. London: Taylor & Francis.