The Musical Self

A conference lecture about the sources of creativity and personal growth for voice and self-development, Prague 2017.

I will speak about an idea that is at the root of the practice I’ve been developing for more than 20 years, “voice in movement integration”. This is the idea of the musical self and organic musicality. It is important to mention that this practice is very much inspired by the work of Polish theatre director Jerzy Grotowski and Maud Robart from Haiti. They both worked with rituals and made deep research about inner personal development and transformation through movement and voice. My basic understanding is that harmonic integration development and creativity is possible by returning to our primary expressions: movement and voice. That means reconnecting to our own organic nature, our own organic wisdom that resonates with all  organic, natural intelligences. In short, that  means reconnecting to our own bodies as the main resource for organic wisdom. As I see it, The Musical Self is the main expression of our organic nature.

When I look at human development, I think that the main trauma of the individual in our modern society is the disconnection to organic sources of life. What I call organic musicality is the basic part of it. When I speak of organic musicality or the musical self, I mean many dimensions. When we are born, all our organic systems are integrated, not only among themselves but also with the pulse and rhythm of nature. Our first language is a bodily musical language of spontaneous impulses and rhythms, spontaneous gestures of movement and vocal expression. The baby is completely in tune with its organic nature and with the surrounding organicity. One of the deep aspects of organicity is the musical aspect, which is the flow and change of impulses, rhythms and dynamics in the body-soul. This is the result of an open system of exchange between information and environment (for example, the dialogue between the body weight and gravity, where the body receives the response of movement wave – the rebound from the ground). As the individual grows, especially in western modern society, he begins to lose contact with his own impulses and rhythms, with his own natural authentic self. The culture goes against the organic wisdom, against the organic flow and impulses. One aspect of it is the western notion of success, how you are supposed to live your life, and a moving away from natural rhythms. Losing the connection with one’s own natural rhythms and impulses means losing creativity and liveliness. Another layer of it is the personal psychological environment that fosters negative beliefs and moods in a way that also disconnects the individual from his own self, his own creativity which is rooted in the body’s organic musicality. The so-called educational system decides for the individual what is right and wrong, what is a beautiful voice and singing, what are accepted voices, well behaved voices, and so on.

Organic Musicality is the very basic of a person’s own creativity. When the inner rhythms are blocked, the flow of life is blocked and so is the ability of live in communication with the world. The individual begins to develop all kinds of ideas, explanations, and theories from his logical/rational thinking, that replace the lack of life energy. The well-known psychologist D.W. Winnicott said that the basic condition to express creative impulses in everyday life is being in touch with the “real self” which is based on body vitality and the live impulses of the body. The roots of the authentic real self are in the connection to the breathing, to the tissue and to bodily sensations. In reaction to surroundings that dampen live free impulses, vitality, and creativity, the mental function begins to develop as a separate entity that is no longer connected to the body’s core vitality, and so, the individual is also disconnected from his emotions. The mental disconnection from the bodily experience develops in the individual what Winnicott calls “false self”, which is not in connection to creative life and feeling of meaningful life. The false self always tries to do what it thinks the world wants from it, what it thinks will satisfy society or the parents. He will always try to “fit” into something, never being able to be in connection with his “real self”. That false development usually happens in a very early in the primary relationship with the parents. Every creative development is a process that comes into being within the intersubjective field. The spontaneous sound and gestures, which are the baby’s creativity, have to be noticed and reflected by the mother, and by that, the supposedly meaningless language of sounds and movements starts to receive  validation and recognition. So this musical language between baby and mother is the first structure of the creative self which I call “the musical self.” The musicality is the primary communication and when that goes wrong for whatever reason, the baby is not getting the response to his spontaneous impulses. When the “ding” is not answered by a “dong”, then the baby’s vitality and impulses began to shut down. The baby/child feels unrecognized, not getting the validation he needs in order to develop his self. The musical self is the way we express our organic musicality, being able to sing naturally, to express and to vocalize our inner life and our subconsciousness. The subconscious language is made of images, symbols and archetypes; it does not have what we call the regular “reasonable” “meaningful” shapes. As in our dreams, this inner language is a mixture of pictures and sensations that flow in a kind of inner logic that we cannot begin to understand. It is different from the “conventional” way of trying to put things into context. We know that dreams have an important function in our emotional balance. In addition, it is essential to our creativity. In order to be creative, the systems must break patterns of thinking and beliefs. For this, according to Winnicott, one must go back to the illogical, to chaos, and from there comes the new creation. The organic authentic singing has the same kind of “behavior” as a dream. The voice is free to express its inner life in different rhythms and melodies, different vocal images, different impulses and somatic memories, not in any particular order or structure. These are our primal pre-verbal languages. Only there, in some very deep and ancient part connected to life roots, is nourishment received and an “answer” being expressed. This musicality is expressed in singing-moving, and it is also our mythical soul that resonates with the very basic inner structures of the whole universe. Since all the matter of the universe is vibrating atoms, everything is actually music, everything has a sound, whether we can hear it or not, it. Many myths tell us how the world was created by sound, by vocal expression. In Judaism God created the world with words, in Hinduism with Om, in the myths of the rain forrest tribes there is a beautiful story of the Anaconda snake. The story tells about Anaconda whose skin was covered with beautiful geometric patterns. Anaconda, looking at the skin patterns, begins to sing the patterns and while singing, the sky is created. Anaconda sings more and the stars are created, and as he/she continues to sing, the whole world is created. So now, says the myth, every person has his own inner song structure and when a person sings, his/her body-soul returns to the source and finds balance by resonating with the world’s harmonies. Therefore, this is an understanding of the larger aspect of the human need to be in tune with something bigger than the self , with something transcendental. Deep inside, we feel we are part of something bigger. Our organic musicality makes this resonant. When the natural flow of impulses sings through us we feel the connection to the high intelligence of creativity.

Our aim will be to open blocked channels of energy for the flow of organic musicality and creativity. The musical self then expresses the inner dances and songs that are always in us, as well as the rhythms and the songs of everything around us.

The practice has a different kind of basic physical-vocal structures removing what blocks the free impulses of the body. It is a process of embodiment and integration of the different parts of ourselves: physical, emotional, and spiritual. In this process, we trust the organic wisdom. The reconnection to the Musical Self as a deep resource will enable the reflection and appearance of the individuals’ shadows, in order to transform them into a creative, vital life.

Smadar Emor

Smadar Emor

Dancer, choreographer, vocal artist, a writer and voice-movement therapist.

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