What Does the Body Absorb and What Does the Voice Carry?

Part of my fascination with the voice is its connection to the larger body. I’m interested in what it carries and what it produces as a representation of the larger physical self. The voice is spoken about physically, and it’s also spoken about as authority. One’s voice is personal and carries meaning. For example, One young HBV student said, “Singing makes me feel free—I can express who I really am when I am singing” (Making a Difference, p3). The voice can also be understood as speaking on behalf of others: a representative singular voice that carries within it many more (Fisher, 2016, and Meintjes, 2017). Additionally, the voice can be spoken about as existing simultaneously within the body and the world (such as vocal chords within the body verses air exiting the lungs into the world) without solely belonging to either. The voice being able to inhabit space without owning it makes it an interesting paradox (Kapchan, 2017, and Ochoa Gautier, 2014).

In Deborah Kapchan’s chapter on the body in the book Keywords in Sound, she describes the connection between the voice and the body, bodies between other bodies, and the body and it’s environment:

Flesh breathes. It is porous, responsive, and connects the inner to the outer. It belongs to and encases the separate self but transmits sensation from other worlds. It is a form of fascia—connective tissue.” (p40).

Accepting the body as resonant and porous, something that transforms and can be transformed by its environment, begs the question: what kind of impact does an environment make on the voice? Does it make any impression at all? Is the environment something that can be carried in the voice? And if so, what does it sound like?

Next section: Proximity to Violence