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What can you sing?

September 19, 2012

My daughter reminded me recently that I love to sing. She drew me a quick pic of me singing, that simply smiled at me. As always the simplest things often shout the loudest. But yup, I love to sing! Don’t we all?
When singing you can say sooo much more than “the words”.

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I’m lucky to sing with Global Harmony from Melton, an a cappella community choir of 60-70ish members. We sing songs from around the world; Bulgarian, Mexican, Maori, Zulu, etc as well as English. Often when singing the sounds of another language, ‘feeling’ (or something), takes over as words and specific meanings are somewhat displaced.

Yes to sing is to make a noise; to vocalize melodically, to produce melodious sounds, to tell about or praise something, to proclaim with feeling. But I’m interested in what else is going on when we truly sing… ?

“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter” said Keats.
He also related the human idea of ‘negative capability’; “when one is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason”.
My experience is that singing can lift us towards this position of negative capability… the ability to perceive, think, and operate beyond an individual’s presuppositions and limitations. Even if only for a brief moment, but the resonance of that moment can linger.

In my experience the act of singing can lift us beyond any glossy, shiny popcorn, sunset-laden veneer – can lift us beyond cares and unacknowledged insecurities.
In my experience the act of singing can lift us beyond disillusionment and doubt.
More importantly the act of singing with others is phenomenal.

Yes, other activities can release joy and tranquil epiphany. Crowds, cycling, running, obsession, sex, eating and other activities can induce hysteria and hypnotic attentiveness. But singing and singing with others seems quite unique. Studies have discovered that the effect of singing on birds’ brains is similar to the effect of addictive drugs on human brains. But there’s a caveat, that effect doesn’t happen when the birds are singing alone. It seems singing’s effect on humans has a similar caveat.

Studies of singing suggests perceived benefits including improved mood, stress reduction, as well as perceived social and spiritual benefits. Singing may positively influence the immune system through the reduction of stress. Singing can have some of the same effects as exercise, the release of endorphins gives singers an overall “lifted” feeling and is associated with stress reduction. It’s also an aerobic activity, meaning it gets more oxygen into the blood for better circulation, which tends to promote a good mood. Singing requires deep breathing, another anxiety reducer.

You can sing silently in your heart – by ‘heart’ of course I don’t mean the thing in your chest? Or that red fluffy greetingscardesque feeling. I don’t mean the warm and fuzzy good intention or the obligated sentiment. By “heart” we should realise the ‘centre of our being’. “Where your treasure is there is your heart also” – be mindful of what you value and cherish?

I try and let my heart sing…

But enough waffle. I love to sing.

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