The urge to ****. It comes on strong and wild, and it fills you from tip to toe. It may take you in the shower, when you're tipsy in a crowd or on top of a mountain with no one else in sight. The surrender is sublime, and so easy. Just open your mouth, and it's all right there inside. A singular but universal passion. It connects, shapes and propels the human experience. It is the essence of fullfillment and release, fun and power, simplicity and profoundity all rolled into one tight syllable. To SING may be both the root and the flower of the most personal and most communal thing that we do.
Charles Darwin suggested that an early progenitor of man likely "first used his voice in producing true musical cadences, that is in singing." Beyond control of the thorax itself, we certainly know that children learn language skills and develop the joy of communication through song. From pubs to cathedrals, cotton fields to political conventions, song exercises that most intimate of instruments.
How often do we celebrate the miracle of voice though? As with much else, sometime a nudge towards intellectual exploration of a topic, as well as physical indulgence in the same, can be helpful. So, I point you towards a fantastic public radio series and multimedia project dedicated to the art of the human voice, hosted by arts journalist and singer Chloe Veltman. Through a syndicated broadcast, VoiceBox explores everything from the color range of Bob Dylan's voice to the neuroscience of song, and the link between the zen of surfing and choral direction. A recent live VoiceBox event, in partnership with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, explored the ancient global connection between beer drinking and singing with enthusiastic audience participation in both.
There's something for everyone from a subject matter standpoint. But more importantly, high-quality productions like this remind us that song brings us back to ourselves and to others. Be it ballads or beatboxing, song is the soul's oxygen.
One of my favorite films of all time, Harold & Maude, is levitated by a song that captures the best advice one could ever give or get or follow -- "If you want to sing out, sing out/If you want to be free, be free..."
Circulate the rhythm.