NASA Image of the Day

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Art as Healing: Singing as Extension.

One of my dearest friends is an art therapist, and having watched the slow and methodical progress of overcoming pain, through visual art, of people like her clients, whose great desire is to give voice to their healing visually, it is something to see why, how, and for what ultimate purpose the "art" - be it rough or fine - is made.

Singing is an interesting extension of that ideal, in an age when music therapy is now a recognized and accepted discipline within the greater parameters of art, proper. In an age of "developing idols", we remember the recordings of our own experience; the well-loved rough rumbles of Tampa Red, perhaps, the smooth silk of Sinatra, the trills and thrills of Dolly Parton, maybe, as representative of an experience, and a handling, of the gift of the material itself. As an artist, we explore, in our way, and in our means, the experience and the "story" of a song, too, sometimes, if we are courageous, and willing to do so, to better understand, perhaps, those who have sung it before - even, perhaps, when the experience is unfamiliar, or unknown to us. Singing a K.D. Lang song, then, might mean understanding a particular artist's take on something: singing material normally sung by someone else, allows us to live, for a moment, in the performance perspective, momentarily, to try and better understand why and how those who have sung it before us, might have sung it in just the way that they did. It is a man singing a woman's song; a woman singing a man's song. Ultimately, it is just a song, with words and lyrics a malleable kind of paint, to the creative.

It is sometimes, too, less about "polish" and more about connecting; contrarily, the perfection of an Ella Fitzgerald, complexly handling, with effortless dexterity, musically, material handled quite directly, and without artifice and a dearth of technological addition, by others, seeking a purist kind of invocation of a real sense of awe, in ourselves, at natural ability. Perhaps, then, from a coaching standpoint, when we truly love the art medium itself, we become more impatient with the unburnished perfection, when that is being sought, or the rough edge and rumble not quite achieved, when that is sought, too. But, ultimately, unlike the "Idols" created by companies with a particular agenda, it is the "making of the thing" - and our encouragement of each other to continue to do so, which continually produces uniqueness in this, and other disciplines, and the continuing idea of "artistry for life", not "idols for a moment". This is a very different ideal, for very, very different reasons....

The world becomes a place where one song is a different story, in different hands, with those connecting to it, in a way that is unique to them, for different reasons: it is the essence and the reason, ultimately, for artistry beyond the release, and the need to express, which it has satisfied, momentarily, in the artist. It is being, at its immediate, and spontaneous, its most exuberant, its most controlled, its most perfectionist, and most instant, best. It is life - and that is a beautiful thing...