Defining Vocal Tai Chi

Defining Vocal Tai Chi is only just beginning. I am so close to the work myself that it is hard for me to define it’s parameters. But here are a few pointers…

We could outline five areas that are activated in the practice as the basis for a discussion:

1. vocal, artistic and creative
2. body, breath and energy
3. feeling, emotion and thought
4. spontaneity, surrender and decision making
5. collective, trans-personal and archetypal

These are fairly arbitrary headings but they give a sense of the spectrum of the work as crossing a number of levels.

1. vocal, artistic and creative

a. vocal: the voice has flexibility to move across its whole range. Beyond this it has the ability to work with nuance, blend, sustain, short, vibrato, still, rough, light, airy, hard, deep, wide, bend, glide – etc etc

b. artistic: the performer has a sense of musicality and can work at both a conscious and unconscious level at the same time to enable an artistic narrative to evolve.

c: creativity: the performer can develop an artistic narrative into a fully formed spontaneous structure that makes sense from beginning through the middle and to the end. The creative sense of timing, proportion, overall shape and flow is being worked with at a conscious and unconscious level.

2. Body, breath and energy.

a. body: the performer has good sense of embodiment of the voice and is able to manifest the voice as emanating from the whole body.

b. breath: the performer is able to work with breath and be guided by breath at an integrated level in alignment with the vocal, artistic and creative imperatives. And – in contrast is able to call on breath to initiate the vocal, artistic and creative imperatives.

c. energy: the performer is aware of the ‘field’ in which they are working not only around their own body, but also in the whole space. They are also aware at some level of the combined energy of the other people in the room and are able to engage with this subtle field in the moment.

3. Feeling, emotion and thought.

a. feeling: the performer is in touch with sensations and the aliveness running through them.

b. emotion: the performer is able to work with emotional surges as they rise and fall.

c. thought: the performer maintains a conscious overview at some level.

4. Spontaneity, surrender and decision making.

a. spontaneity: the performer is able to abandon fixed ideas and work with surprises as the arise. The performer is comfortable with a fairly high level of risk.

b. surrender: the performer is able to ‘wait and see’, ‘just be’, be relaxed with ‘mistakes’, ‘call on a higher level guidance’.

c. decision making: the performer is ready to commit to making whatever happens workable material – no matter what that happens to be.

5. collective, trans-personal and archetypal

a. collective: the performer recognizes they are part of a group experience, not just a private journey (unless there is no one else in the room!?).

b. trans-personal: the performer is open to discovering parts of themselves they have not voiced or experienced before.

c. archetypal: the performer is a vessel for content which may not belong only to them.