Apr 06

on Jenni Roditi’s Vocal Tai Chi Master Class, 12.2.17

Alistair Smith
composer and sound healer,
on Jenni Roditi’s Vocal Tai Chi Master Class
12.02.17

 

“The improvising voice is a mirror of your whole being

and through it you can speak of yourself in new tongues ” – JR

 

I have been a participant in three Vocal Tai Chi Intensive Master classes. This extended version of Jenni Roditi’s unique style of voice and movement workshop brings a different dimension to the work. The usual sessions culminate in a focused five to six minute individual vocal expression, which one could term a ‘solo’, although, it must be emphatically stated that these are not ‘performances’ in any conventional way. Rather, they are focal points for each individual to further explore and express what has been worked on in that particular session. This is done in a very safe, nurturing and supportive environment, created by Jenni and enthusiastically upheld by the complicit members of the group.

The Intensive Master Class allows for two twenty minute to half hour individual one-to-one sessions with Jenni. This brings a spaciousness to the work that allows for deeper and more intensive excursions into our sound and selves. This permits what is being worked with to be brought more fully into the light and for greater movement within the field of enquiry.

 

Every VTC session begins with Jenni inviting every person present to say how they are and why they have come. This opening check-in is not a mere introduction to each other but an explicit invitation to be openly honest about where they are with their selves and their sound. As a regular participant of VTC, you find yourself talking about your inner self and sound, that is vocal expression, as inseparable parts of the whole. The sound reveals this inner world and its emotional, mental and spiritual components are directly connected with the physical, literally through the physiology of voice production. This involves much more than merely the vocal chords, however, as any singer or actor would agree. In this way, VTC is a powerfully holistic approach to personal inquiry and development.

Everyone’s current state and purpose behind coming is input and integrated into that particular session; a composite theme is generated and honed by Jenni. This is why every time it is different, each occasion infused with the essence of each individual’s condition at that particular point. Jenni brings where she is at into the mix as well, encouraging a humble and down to earth sense of fellowship amongst all.

 

“Using the body as a way in – then drawing the voice from the body.” – JR

 

The next stage of the process is a preparatory grounding and warm up. Here we fully arrive, usually following a guided way of coming into the body, such as using the breath to take us in. The breath may become sound and the body engaged in movement to expand and amplify what is happening with our voice. From here is where the real work begins.

Evoking an energy, the leading edge of where a person is, finding a fulcrum between the apparent surface now and the deeper inner world is the initial stage. This is done with sensitivity, humour and respect, always including the body to help move and release, gently massaging and encouraging the person’s energetic state into actuation. It is a gradual opening, unwinding and unbinding into fuller expression, inquiring into what is happening and trying ways of engaging with it. As what is being worked with wakes up, all aspects of being, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual are acknowledged and welcomed. Jenni is adeptly able to take these and hold them, let them speak or rest, allowing them to be in the sphere of activity where they can be seen and heard, experienced, witnessed, engaged with and moved.

 

Each person steps forward in faith and trust. There is often reluctance, resistance and fear of course, as any work of this kind is bound to provoke. It is wonderful to witness the person taking that step and going there, to that place of vulnerability, way out of their comfort zone. Using the voice to unravel what is there, drawing it out of its conditioning, be it habit, routine, attachment, neglect, a place of solace. These things are not drawn into positions of conflict however, but are honoured and accepted as the architecture of the apparent psychological and energetic status quo.

 

Very quickly an emotive and energetic intensity is reached. This is the forge where the potential for alchemical change exists, where the heat of emotion, pain, struggle anguish… fuel the fire of change – the chance for movement and expansion, of release and renewal.

Participant

 

“Let the voice come through you as it wants to” – JR

 

As a participant you are put in the hot seat. With Jenni’s attentive guidance you are encouraged towards the threshold, biding your time along the shore until you find the perfect spot to dive in. Or you bob up and down on the surface, waiting and testing until the moment feels right, or that feeling arises – a connection, an opening; a crack where you can let it flow out or where you can reach in and enter. The process requires a degree of courage as Jenni may probe or provoke gently and respectfully, possibly catching you off guard, eliciting a more honest response. Sometimes, inviting an almost traumatic experience may be necessary to stir things up and evoke the profundity of what lies beneath. Jenni can tentatively and persistently prod you in a place, gently teasing the area, getting you to look at something in certain ways so as to draw it out. She senses and feels the resistance or discomfort with you and from her objective experience can steer you around it, teasing it out, turning it this way and that, nudging and pressing. Layers of protection may be encountered and pierced towards the ocean beneath.

To talk of the actual sounds that come out during a session is a vast discussion. They may be tribal and guttural; sounds within sounds; trembling, rumbling, unconscious rhythms emerging from within the inertial state of the participant. They may be a child’s whimpering or it’s unrestrained joyful play, serene tones quivering with vulnerability, or loud outbursts charged with emotional intensity. One could go on and on describing the vast and multifarious sound worlds of the inner universes of other beings. One thing is certain: that they are sounds that long to be heard, that need to come out and be honoured for our own growth and continued wellbeing.

It is a process of getting to know yourself more fully and completely. During one session Jenni initiated a discussion about this. She talked of “coming home”, the opposite to what we are brought up to do – a constant externalisation of ourselves for validation. This kind of validation doesn’t have a foundation or a core. If you are constantly reaching out to do things, give and contribute without a strong foundation or grounding, then life will pull you all over the place. You can loose where you are and loose yourself, becoming the branches without a trunk, conforming and contorting. Vocal Tai Chi helps you to get to know your inner self more fully, and it meets and welcomes ALL parts of yourself. It is not a search for some concept of perfection but an acceptance of what is there. This profound level of acceptance can be very healing in itself, allowing ourselves to know and be who we really are.

Witness

 

Part of being at a VTC master class is witnessing the other members go through their own unique journeys. As a witness, one cultivates a more sensitive ear, a type of listening that is with ear, mind, body and emotion. You can feel the sound, viscerally, and sense the intensity of emotion infused in its essence. You can feel its strength or its uncertainty, its confidence or its vulnerability. You revel in the sonic universe of another being. Without judgement you can have this privilege, witnessing the mystery, magic and majesty of another mind; the wandering, seeking, questioning exploration of the human condition. Witnessing wordless, unfettered expression is at once primal and liberating in itself. It is reminiscent of childish play, of an emotional outburst, of intoxicated babble or speaking in tongues.

As a witness you find yourself becoming invested in each person, their process, their journey and their sound. And you feel it strongly in yourself, a kind of sympathetic resonance. You are swept along for the ride and it seems like you are part of it, feeling the changes with them, the pushing through. Perhaps, in this resonance, we are providing energetic or emotional support. Like a concert where the anticipation of the audience creates an atmospheric ‘charge’ that propels the performer to achieve a greater rendition than in rehearsal, perhaps our emotional investment and resonance encourages the participant onward and upward. This has ramifications for ourselves also. As we watch the others, invested and routing for them, coming into resonance with them. As they make breakthroughs, learn more and see more of themselves, we somehow have a sympathetic occurrence within us. We therefore learn something of ourselves and have our own, perhaps more subtle changes, shifts or breakthroughs.

There is a community that is formed through this sonic connection, beyond word and thought. We feel it and experience the struggle, the play, the unravelling of each other. Strong friendships can be formed as we share and witness these profound things from deep in each other’s psyche.

Jenni

 

In the continual evolution of this work, Jenni draws from the different threads of her past. The accumulated knowledge and experience of both her professional and personal past inform and enrich every single session. There is a humility and depth of human experience working harmoniously alongside her professionalism and artistry that encourages an intimacy and trust between her and the participant. This, I feel, is at the core of the success of Vocal Tai Chi. There is a synthesis of her particularly unique skill set, a fusion of her experience, knowledge and abilities. With these facets, all being broadly musical and profoundly spiritual, she embodies a complementarity of an academic and maverick background that testify to the former. And the latter, drawing, as we have said, from her own personal journey and encounters along the way, illuminates a wisdom and adroitness with that enigmatic part of us. We can always relate much more strongly with someone who has been through it and who knows what it is to feel strongly and search deeply. She has the uncanny ability to invite openness and honesty of a type which encourages a person to really look inside and see what is there. She creates a space of welcome acceptance, a safe house within which she is able to hold a person’s current state in suspended illumination, ready to be engaged. This is done with all those present until everyone has explored and expressed their particular point in space and time. As I have already stated, as all these are brought to light, Jenni weaves a collaboration of perspectives that becomes the bedrock of each session. This is primarily what makes each workshop different and I feel this ability is due to Jenni’s experience as composer, conductor and improviser, coupled with that of her as workshop facilitator. Similar to composing for a musical ensemble, understanding each instrumental voice, she takes their character and idiosyncrasies and puts them on the stage, the musical material comprised of each voice’s capacities, tone and character. Combine this with Jenni’s personal and spiritual experience and you have a potent approach that is her gift and the architecture of Vocal Tai Chi.

TIC TOC Sing

One can also see how the next  step with this work would be for her to take it into a performance arena encouraging an unbridled creative energy and group sensitivity in front of a public audience. It is therefore of little surprise that in the last two years Jenni has created TIC – The Improvisers’ Choir (professional) and TOC – The Open Choir (community) and they have performed sixteen concerts (TIC – 12, TOC – 4) in eighteen months. For more about THIS new project you can read further articles by me here.

http://www.as-soundhealing.com/35e6c5_3f265d32e37148a1ac3c27337c8ac4891Alistair Smith, composer, sound healer.
http://www.ascomposer.com/

Jul 13

Sound and Music’s: Sounding Out – Digital

South Bank Centre. July 6 2014.

 

Jenni Roditi in attendance – out of personal interest.

(Unfortunately I missed the first 20 minutes or so of this discussion.)

Chair: Jean-Baptiste Thiebaut (Sound and Music board member)

Speakers: Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner), Brittney Bean (Songdrop),
Andrew Dubber (Bandcamp) and Michela Magas (Music Tech Fest)

 

Andrew Dubber (Bandcamp)

Ages of Communication –

Aural

Scribe

Print

Electric

Digital

 

The goal of creating music hasn’t changed completely yet and neither has digital age become fully embedded yet. We are solving electric age problems with digital age tools. What is the natively digital commodity? Older age products don’t disappear…. Music is a way that makes for other people… There’s an opportunity to invent new types of music creation that haven’t been invented yet.

 

Scanner

 

collaboration social interaction. Band width is slow in certain parts of London. Move to Birmingham!!

 

Michela Magas (Music Tech Fest)

 

Generation C : “content creators”. Generations X and Y are passed now. They were about up and download speeds.

“The maker community” new sounds, new instruments, circuit bending, old electronics, sensors, transducers, all very cheap so lots of kids are into this all round the world. Super simple super effective. Immediacy of expression – messing round, working quickly and see how you can communicate! Rough like punk, raw expression. ‘Gunk – geek punk’. It’s immediate and genuinely felt.

 

Andrew Dubber (Bandcamp)

 

Music Tech Fest – experimentation hasn’t really happened for forty years. Minimalism with reel to reels – using available technology to experiment.

Scanner

‘Modular synthesis’ movement in last ten years actually. Can find joy in simply making noise.  MIT body experience and music research with Scanner.

 

Audience member says things are going on but they are not being noticed….

Audience: exchanging music – used to be shops. ‘The Orchard’ distributor of Scanners music. Not great return, but still worth it because it makes it accessible.

 

It’s not so much about selling as experiencing….. Feedback through letters so encouraging. Always respond to that.

 

Brittney Bean (Songdrop)

How to make a business out of a new digital platform that she owns – it’s called “Song Drop”.

How do I work the digital world to share my work? Its like Lego …. But its also like clay.

 

Work with technologists! To help.  “I imagine a world where my music does this in this way. ” then the technologists can build that!,

 

Scanner

 

explain – what is circuit bending by the way?? Re appropriating recycling the components from like old Casio machine. It’s part of a hacking scene. Didgeridoo blocked on one side and hooked to computer and amplification and then beat boxes through the didgeridoo. This kind of music is attractive not only to musicians but also to noise lovers and techno geeks.

 

Band Camp and Sound Cloud are the main sites on the rise. When the Cloud works properly this will be where it’s at with live relay of this new experimentation. Circuit Bending is being discussed as a new genre!

 

(who said this?) The bathroom tap in Venezuela was his most popular sound cloud upload – because it made a beautiful sound like Tuuvan throat singing.

 

Kicking at the edges of technology is the exciting thing. Like Sargent Pepper was in the old days (!)

 

Monetising music making

 

Scanner – Gambling is good ! Work on a lot of projects at the same time… Some pay well some don’t. But just work hard! Multi tasking and be out there and meet people and build relationships.

Scanner approached bbc and channel 4 with idea they didn’t reply – but Red Ball online , did – a six week series about how we listen to music – is now being made.

 

In the past you were either lottery winner musically or striving. Now it’s much more grey scaled.

 

The manner of conversation following up from whatever you post is crucial. Seeding conversations is important.

 

Band Camp is the best site to sell your music!! (Not reverbnation!).

 

Stems – what are stems ?  Stems are channels. People put up their individual stems online…..

 

Then once the stems are online people go off and are creative with individual stems.

 

Breaking silos – MTV have recorded video of individual stems so people can use them.

 

‘Whose Sampled’ company lets you find the source of samples in songs.

Copyright was designed to create a creative middle class. Copyright needs to be reformed.

Copyright comes from publishers 200 years ago. No one else should be dealing with your copyright.

 

Notes by Jenni Roditi © July 2014

 

Jul 13

Third Ear Symposium notes

South Bank Centre, July 5 2014.

CJEC representation at conference: Alan Bullard, Jenni Roditi and Wesley John.

 

Mathew Caines Editor Guradian Culture Professionals.

Snowfall article in the New York Times. Immersive article. Beautiful.

Content teams for all the outlets available.

Nobody knows what they are doing really. Membership models etc. taking risks to try things.

 

Chris Shipman Digital Content Producer, Royal Opera House.

Democratising criticism. Vox pops – not really transparent discussion. Not really dialogue.

Blogging tweets worked well, use a selection of good and bad to be representative.

Stay open to criticism. Try and respond. Nurture relationships. Aim for a snowball effect. Twitter embeds is the way to go.

 

Lee Etherington Creative Director Tusk Music Newcastle

Left field experimental music. Used to be press and printed media only. Now all laptop. Bypassing editors. Audience development – always include a few unknowns. Online marketing is all. FB and twitter all important.

Live streaming event. Will it stop people turning up? Seems not. Boilerroom.tv – streams live gigs. “Network Awesome” – online TV station. Comes from arts curator. They trawl YouTube and put up most interesting stuff.

YouTube monetisation. Possible. Basic FM online radio in Newcastle. Difference between an arts and a media organisation is very fluid. You can broadcast from your bedroom. Things have moved on.

 

Juha vant Zelfde Artistic Director LightHouse The Digital Culture Agency.

Netherlands DJ and promoter. Arts institutions have become liquid. Breadcrumbs – is how you build audience. Tumblr Instagram. Twitter. Tumblr is memory dump sketch book open studio….  – at the heart of his work. Twitter is a ‘water cooler’ moment. Twitter is like Cefax for everyone.

Instagram – is like a behind the scenes archive. Snap chat !?

 

Discussion

Citizen journalism – but how can it be authenticated? Can be under the radar promotion not unaffiliated with the story – therefore bias.

 

The balance between good and bad comments – how do you pitch it? ROH? Try to be representative …. Embrace it whether good or bad and keep a balance.

 

The real drive now is towards SHARING… ( JR the ‘sharing economy’ – article recently in The Week magazine June 2014). Curating is like marketing without the spin.

Promoting unknowns – playlists, links, biogs, Band Camp.

 

How do you decide what to do what on what platform? ROH tends to mix things up. Spreading. One could be ‘silo’ing the platforms but no better to spread. Also good to give people a break from onslaught of marketing.

 

Twitter is the big one. FB has become corrupt… As only 10/15 % actually see anyway.

 

‘Culture Pros’ – guardian online. – Ambient communication between announcements is really important. ‘ Words of wisdom “Do what you do best and share for the rest.”

Academic and curatorial mainstream has space for the untrained personal reaction or a informal journalist commenting on culture.

Soundcloud – use to promote as a playlist. Selling platforms for audio ??  (JR BAND CAMP best for selling  – as promoted by the SaM Digital Conference the next day!)

Sound cloud good for live performances.

 

How do we convert online engagement into ticket sales.? It’s not happening at all in some instances. CS – Sales is not always the bottom line…..

How do you recruit more followers? – It’s just sort of happens there’s no strategy. 5

How much time to invest online and how much time in real world?

 

PR Surgery with Helen Stallard

 

Check out the ” Arts Marketing Association. ” useful pointers.

Press release – who is it going to?

Not arts savvy – then plain English.

Savvy – more in depth.

 

3 bullet points at top.

Then structure it like a news article. 2 pages a4 max. All info for article is in the press release. Journalist doesn’t do further research.

Summarise in email cover. Then attach word doc. Then contact individuals personally in papers.

Upload to big companies. ‘Media Disk’ is part of big orgs. Easy to use.

“Arts Media Contacts” . £200 a year.

 

Work with individual freelancer PR rather than big agency… To build up trust…better.

 

NEWS and arts stories. Afternoon session

 

Prof Jane Chapman Prof of Communications, Uni of Lincoln.

ALCS – equivalent of PRS for journalist – join if you want to write copy.

Average wage for freelance journalist £5K.

‘Casualization’ of the industry. Multi platform. Increase cross over with amateurs.

Passion is starting point.

Still need for critical analysis – Brian Sewell vg example of professional writer.

What is it that your brain can offer that Jo Public cannot? Need for training.

Collapse of print not collapse of journalism.

Boutique niche services and creativity needed. Uni of Lincoln arts journalism Masters only one in the world. Globalisation and niche are going together – ironic.

 

Lindsey Clarke Editor thelondonist.com

Looking for quality and quirky things that have something different about it.

Big following! .Songlines Choir uses them. Become a reader then use them for promotion.

Used their public to feedback on sound and music events. Punters feeding back on new music.

60 people volunteered.

The Londonist is working towards being fully professional.

Tell us why our readers would be interested.

hello@londonist.com

 

 

Jasper Rees Editor www.theartsdesk.com. Off shoot of the telegraph Launched on 9.9.9

Do the arts need critics?

Article style they use a lot: long form q and a.

After 3 years of being free –  starting charging £2.95 a month. £25 a year.

The “pay wall”.

 

Amanda Holloway Editor Sinfini music

How do we know what to listen to? Who do we trust? Sinfinmusic is it. For classical and contemporary. Talk to us about collaboration and partnerships.

 

Session after Tea

Jane BurtonTate Media – established 2007

Goldie at the Tate film 500,000 views.

Cinema streaming of Tate exhibition of Matisse. One film a week made by media department.

Apps – shake your phone for different bits of art. Android and apple. “MagicTateBall...

Music meets art, fashion meets art.

4 million reach via social media platform.

Make your nails look like a Matisse painting…

 

 

Director of Arts at the BBC Jonty Claypole

Cultural devolution. Glasgow – less ambitious but more creative than London. British media is too metro centric.

Metrocentricity needs to be challenged. There are world class stories in all parts of the UK.

Digital does help challenge this. BBC is one of the most successfully devolved companies in the Uk.

World class artistic communities outside London tend to be there because they want to be there. London can be superficial and corrupt. Artists often move out of London because of this.

Who is the spotlight for?  Overexposure can be very damaging for artists.

 

Helen Stallard PR Consultant

Lots of readers of Birmingham post.  Aprox 300,000

And online too 1,500,000. !

Really worth using local papers.

Regional TV news big promotional support. National press high profile but local actually brings in new audience.

The art isn’t enough -,the story is all important.

 

Jonty Claypole – thespace.com is a new initiative with 16 million over three years to co create new work. BBC.

 

General Notes

Check out www.sounduk.net

Check out “Hugs Bryson” live streaming only £200

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Notes by Jenni Roditi CJEC, BASCA © July 2014

 

 

Oct 29

Growing at the Mind Body Soul Exhibition!

MBS5_show

So it’s the morning after the weekend before… plus one day off!!

Vocal Tai Chi came of age at the weekend when I set off – with generous back up from a number of individuals – to Olympia to announce the arrival of VTC to planet Earth… as of …one year and ten months ago! It’s hard to believe the work is still so young and yet enjoying this positive response from so many people! We must have given away about 650 leaflets and goodness knows how many people eyeballed the name. There were about a dozen bookings for workshops and a handful of individual session bookings as well. CD’s were sold and people signed up to the mailing list. It’s all starting to make an impression and that’s gotta be a good thing.

The four days went by in a flash – and yet they passed moment by moment in vivid techni-colour – as each task, conversation, vocal sound and booking felt like another mark on the universe that confirmed VTC is here to stay.

I have to thank Jazz Rasool for his enormous amount of help in making it possible to exhibit. He covered so many bases – excellent graphic design, web trouble shooting, planning, roady-ing, ironing on transfers to t-shirts, encouraging me and telling me to rest – and a lot more besides. Brilliant support, really. Helpers on the stand Louise, Danusia, Hazel, Lucy, Denise and Catherine are thanked again as well. 10008_10151740164223877_82760886_n

Feb 01

Arts Council e-zine article on Vocal Tai Chi

Article for the Arts Council e-zine on the ’21st Century Leadership programme’ (which I was part of in 2012) legacy document.

Vocal Tai Chi

Creator: Jenni Roditi GGSM, MMus, VMTR

 Composer, vocalist, voice movement therapist.

Vocal Tai Chi is a new approach to vocal improvisation-performance and workshops grounded in a Tai Chi approach to singing, breathing and voice-body coordination. Improvisations are also supported by especially composed backing tracks. This new work is part of my evolving music practice and points to a further integration of my composition-improvisation dialogue as a primary artistic pathway.

I am also offering workshops, one-to-one sessions and friends-and-family concerts that welcome all singers, non-singers and those with physical damage affecting the voice, for example long-term smokers. Public concerts may also be possible in the future. I’ve also attended several conferences in the last few months and presented Vocal Tai Chi in the contexts of:

All of these contacts are embedding themselves for the future.

My Tai Chi approach emerged from observation of a subliminal movement flow that was congruent with my vocal improvising and clearly evident in my body. I am familiar with Tai Chi from practice over a number of years. My partner named it Vocal Tai Chi after he noticed this correlation.

Musically VTC takes an elemental approach to solo, duo, trio and group voice work and emphasizes non-genre specific material. In workshops I invite people to explore openly, using a voice placement technique to help develop range, colour, articulation, control, stability, fluidity, confidence and depth of feeling.
I also see the work as a metaphor for exploring the nature of 21st Century Leadership, authority and collaborative models – through asking (myself and others) of the improvising: What did it say to you? Did it work? Why did it work? These questions are often most easily answered through audience response, though analysis in workshops can also be used.

The questions provide a felt-sense thinking space for reflection and learning and often begin a more wide ranging conversation.

Vocal Tai Chi embraces influences from many indigenous vocal cultures as well as the classical and modern Western art and popular traditions (demonstrated in my own singing) and looks to find new aural-visual images of voice. The vocal elements in my own Vocal Tai Chi encourage the workshop-vocalist to find a way towards their own authentic vocal expression, alongside my voice coaching, based on twenty-five years experience.

Vocal Tai Chi relates musical (inner) intention to musical (outer) invention. The core, body-mind stability of Tai Chi settles into a relationship with this individual intention and invention so that the voice can liberate itself. This poses another question: from where are we vocalising?

Many other inquiries come out of the core questions cited here all of which can provide insights not only into the discipline of vocal improvisation, but also into the many layers of informative psycho-physical process and how we are in the world.

The work seems to consistently deliver a transformational experience, both in a listening and participatory context that many have found highly valuable.

In its ten months of public life I have placed Vocal Tai Chi in various professional contexts – a full list of archived activities since January 2012 can be found at VTC Archive.  Here is one example of a potential application for Vocal Tai Chi, as endorsed by Vick Bain, Chief Operating Officer of BASCA who approached me in August 2012:

JR. 06.11.2012

Written for the 21st Century Leadership Programme Arts Council e-magazine legacy document.

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