As with all the Sonic Meditations I’ve encountered, and as many people note, the simplicity of the instructions hides the complexity of the practice. Many questions arise as we discuss this score, and I think about it since;
do you sing the tone your chosen person is singing at the time you are singing to them?
If so how do you remember it for when your tone is finished?
Or do you wait until you’ve stopped singing and then sing the tone they are singing at that moment?
What if they are not singing?
How long do you wait?
Do you sing the same tone as them so you can easily join them after singing to them?
How would this mirroring affect the overall soundscape?
Will the sound be sparse in the beginning before people begin to tone?
Does everyone send to the same person at the same time?
Will my chosen person know I am sending them a tone?
Do I sing audibly or in my head?
Do I stay on the same pitch each time I send to a knew person?
Does my pitch have to stay the same?
Does a long tone mean one breath length?
Can I do a higher pitch even if others may not be able to mirror it?
What happens if you and another person both choose each other in the same breath?
What if you don’t recognize the person’s voice that you are sending a tone to?
How will you match their pitch, if considering pitch as ‘a subjective psychoacoustical attribute of sound’?
How do you choose your way around the circle?
Is the mental image of the person associated with their position in the circle?
Or do you bring the image of them into your mind, thus bringing them into your physical sphere?
Sitting down to write this I have the urge to organise and understand how this might play out if it was ‘orchestrated’, musing on the infinite possibilities there must be of transferral of notes – and how really you must always be actually mirroring the sound of someone at least once removed from the person you are listening to, and where does this line begin? I begin to draw some diagrams to explore this:
After four I see what I sensed at the time, the infinite nature of this score and that the ‘lines’ of connecting sound never begin or end. So I go to the recordings for a different kind of clarity. This time we tried the score twice, something we haven’t done before, and it is a pleasure to listen back to the discussions before, between and after, as our understanding around the score expands.
Through the discussion there seem to be two approaches that emerge – one of developing strategies with which to navigate the piece to ensure you are able to ‘match’ others tones – for example harmonizing with them so it is easier to match once you’ve finished sending, and the other of separating the sending and receiving, first focusing on the sending without attention to the matching, then listening in order to match.
Listening back I can remember some of my own progressions, as I recognise my voice and my mirroring. I listen to the thread of other notes passing through and on around the circle. Our toning is tentative, respectful, hopeful, courteous, dedicated, concentrated and focused. We are transmitting and receiving in a never ending cycle of transferral, and we are aware we are all toning each others tones, or respecting each others silences. The negotiation is a beautiful dance. There a moments of silence, sparsity and swells of unity and harmony, a broad spectrum of notes, timbres and textures. All the questions we began with seem to drift away as the act of doing takes over. We begin to understand through experience.