Angelina Kalahari

"Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself." by Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Tag: voice

WHAT DOES A CHARACTER’S VOICE SAY?

A reader asked a thought-provoking question on voices about my novel, The Healing Touch.

For someone like me, who has worked with voice all my life, it was particularly intriguing and more so because I hadn’t thought of it myself, nor had I written it deliberately.

The reader who had approached me noted that all the male voices in The Healing Touch are described as sexy, mellow, tenor, baritone, etc., but the character, Simon, spoke only once and his voice is not commented on by anyone.

Isn’t it fascinating what impacts readers in books?

Her question, “Does the lack of voice connect with his lack of sexuality?” is excellent.

It reminded me that techniques for classical singers involve the use of our pelvic diaphragm to help support our voice. It is such a creative area in our body because we can create children from there.

Optimal breathing further engages muscles in the lower half of our body and contributes enormously to voice production and quality, and to the emotional impact on our voice.

The voices characters use can be tantalising and something I hear authors and readers talk about frequently.

In my opinion, all art is a form of communication, often profound, and therefore has a voice.

In novels, however, we as readers must ‘hear’ the voices of the characters if those characters are to become real for us. It starts with the author being able to ‘hear’ the characters’ voices first. But the author may have had to write several versions of the book – or at least the first few chapters – to come up with the points of view and the voices that most accurately communicate the story.

Furthermore, voice isn’t necessarily what someone says, but how they say it. Their actions, reactions, movements, and general bearing are all forms of voice. Writing such characters can be a challenge.

You can read The Healing Touch for FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

UK – http://amzn.eu/eEVSpPJ

US – http://a.co/bi2HhBI

SHORT STORY – REJECTION

“There’s gold in that voice,” my singing teacher said.

She was talking to my mother. I’d first seen that smile on my mother’s lips when I was around two or three years old. It happened when the adults around me had identified the noise I made as singing. Now, at the grand old age of six, I couldn’t remember a time without my voice, without singing.

My parent’s encouragement had made itself known in a small, pale blue, miniature baby grand piano that waited for me under the Christmas tree one year. It was perfect. I was delirious with excitement. A toy, with real keys that I could individually play, I adored that piano. Hours blurred one into another as I sang along to my heart’s content. The noise must have driven everyone around me insane. No wonder then that the piano disappeared one day, never to be found again.

I don’t know where the urge to sing came from, but there it was. Only much later did I discover that my grandmother also sang. Her grandmother was an opera singer in Europe somewhere before they’d left to make a new home in Africa, where we now lived.

We lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere. It was a big deal when guests came to visit. As the distances between farms were so huge, visitors would typically stay for a meal – either lunch or dinner. I was the entertainment. My mother would dress me up, brush out my long hair, and I would be summoned to sing for the adults after the meal. I can’t remember what I sang – it might have been hymns. Afterwards, I would receive applause and my mother would give me sweets to share with my sister as we were sent away from the adult company.

When it came time for school, I joined all the other shy, unsocial children from the surrounding farms. We stared at each other with big, curious eyes, but had learned that children were to be seen, not heard. We were an obedient, quiet bunch. Talking in front of each other was a struggle. Singing was out of the question. So, when the teacher wanted to test us for the choir, she devised a cunning plan. Square windows at the top of the wall that divided two classrooms were left open. In one of the classrooms sat all the students in neat, quiet rows. In the other was a piano. After being taught a song altogether, one by one, the students were ushered into the room with the piano. Being unable to see the classmates encouraged each young singer to utter sounds that indicated they had at least remembered the song. But in some cases, the tiny voices were so quiet that only the piano could be heard as the teacher softly played the accompaniment. Despite the awkward situation, the teacher bravely continued to search for new members of the choir to replace those who had left to join the secondary school.

My turn came. Being a seasoned professional, I sang as I usually did in front of our guests on the farm. After a few bars, the teacher stopped playing. I stopped singing, worried that I had done something wrong. But her hands were clasped in front of her mouth, her eyes were smiling at me and silent tears ran down her cheeks.

At home, I handed the letter from the teacher to my mother. She wiped the flour from her hands, untied her apron, and patting me on the head, took the letter from my hand. We sat at the kitchen table, my legs swinging in anticipation.

After what seemed like ages, I realised my mother was reading and re-reading the letter. But I couldn’t read her face when she finally looked at me. She folded the letter and put it on the table in front of her.

“You have not been selected for the choir, Annie. I’m so sorry.”

My heart stopped wanting to jump out of my chest from excitement and instead, stopped from the tidal wave of disappointment that flooded through my body. The tears that spilt from my eyes made my voice sound small and tight.

“Why? I did my best. I sang better than the others.”

My mother put a warm hand that smelled like flour and cookies on mine, but she didn’t smile. Her eyes looked as sad as I knew mine were. Singing was all I ever wanted to do. I was only going to school so that I could sing. Mother had told me that I could join the choir and I could hardly wait. Now, this. It was so unfair.

“You did sing better than the others, darling. And that’s why… Your voice is much louder than theirs. You won’t be able to blend in with the others.”

She patted my hand.

“We’ll think of something…”

I was still crying on my bed when I heard mother’s voice talking on the phone that stood on the small table in our long corridor. I couldn’t hear what she was saying but she was using her firm voice.

The next day after school, I started singing lessons with a singing teacher. But I carried the rejection from the choir deep in my heart.

After a month or so of lessons, my teacher entered me for an Eisteddfod, the annual singing and performance competition. It was my first performance in front of a hall filled with people. My mother thought I would be nervous. She held my hand as the chair beneath me shook from my uncontrollable trembling. But once I stood in front of the audience and the judge, a well-known operatic tenor, I loved every second of it.

Only when I won my first Eisteddfod as a soloist, did my six-year-old heart begin to feel hope that I could still sing even if it wasn’t with my friends in the choir.

A very modern Troubadour, Ed Sheeran

I have been listening to Ed Sheeran’s new song, Castle On The Hill. It’s not the first time that he struck me as a very modern Troubadour.

Here is a singer/musician who gives us songs about love and tells stories through his songs that we can all relate to. He does so in a simple yet sophisticated manner. His songs convey sincerity and realness, which his voice is effortlessly able to communicate. Often, it’s just him and his guitar, performing whilst wearing jeans and a t-shirt, hence my reference to him being a modern day troubadour. I feel this is most likely why he has succeeded where others have not.

You may well ask why I’m blogging today about Ed Sheeran and music. Many of you may well know that in a previous life, I worked as an operatic soprano and that I continue to teach. The voice has been, and remains, an obsession and I cannot help but notice when I come across a voice that touches me, that stands out in its ability to be the musical instrument it is, to convey its messages clearly and with sincerity. Ed Sheeran’s voice is one such voice for me. But by his own admission, he didn’t always sound like he does today. It took incredible hard work, tenacity and deliberate practise to get to where he is today, and for that, I admire him even more.

His new song, Castle On The Hill has a great message for us all, don’t you think?

When I was six years old I broke my leg
I was running from my brother and his friends
And tasted the sweet perfume of the mountain grass I rolled down
I was younger then, take me back to when I

Found my heart and broke it here
Made friends and lost them through the years
And I’ve not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I’ve grown
But I can’t wait to go home

I’m on my way
Driving at 90 down those country lanes
Singing to “Tiny Dancer”
And I miss the way you make me feel, and it’s real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill

Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes
Running from the law through the backfields and getting drunk with my friends
Had my first kiss on a Friday night, I don’t reckon that I did it right
But I was younger then, take me back to when

We found weekend jobs, when we got paid
We’d buy cheap spirits and drink them straight
Me and my friends have not thrown up in so long, oh how we’ve grown
But I can’t wait to go home

I’m on my way
Driving at 90 down those country lanes
Singing to “Tiny Dancer”
And I miss the way you make me feel, and it’s real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill

One friend left to sell clothes
One works down by the coast
One had two kids but lives alone
One’s brother overdosed
One’s already on his second wife
One’s just barely getting by
But these people raised me
And I can’t wait to go home

And I’m on my way, I still remember
These old country lanes
When we did not know the answers
And I miss the way you make me feel, it’s real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill

 

 

 

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