In her book Vocal River, Rhiannon encouraged us to explore something she calls “personal language,” an intuitive form of speech which she describes as “not gibberish or nonsense, but…a kind of speaking in musical tongues” which involves not imitating foreign languages but “committing to syllables the way we commit to melody.”
In exploring this kind of imaginary language, Rhiannon reminds us that “it is not necessary to try to be funny” but that “the point is to ride the wave of language, giving yourself over to the pleasure and intuition of invention.”
So there it is: This week our work is to discover a hidden language—not by traveling to forgotten lands, or digging up a lost manuscript—but by opening our mouths, following our instincts, and listening to the sounds that emerge.
Option A: Namesake. Take the last letter of your last name. That is your first sound. Plan nothing else. Just let that sound guide you into unknown territory. Hear what wants to be said next. Don’t worry about where you’re going. Keep listening to yourself. You’ll find the thread.
Option B: Sequel. Choose a number between 1 and 9. Listen to that number in the playlist for last month’s syllables prompt. When you get the general flavor, stop the track and try to continue the stream, to see what twists and turns this new language might take. Keep listening to the hidden speech that wants to emerge.
Here’s an example from Jascha.
The steps are as follows:
- Step 1: Record yourself speaking or singing your new language.
- Step 2: Upload to SoundCloud and post the track to the SSS group.
- Step 3: Listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow singers. (Play nice!)
Deadline: Your tracks should be uploaded by midnight wherever you are on Monday, March 12, 2015. (Note: This is just a friendly target to help us all stay motivated and synchronized. But if you feel inspired to contribute later, by all means sing it and upload, and drop us a line so we can add to the playlist. Bottom line is we want you to sing, darn it.)
Length: Your track should be long enough to discover the contours of your language, and to settle into and explore it. (Or about the length of a typical voicemail from your mother.)
Description: It would be awesome to include a name for your found language, and anything else you might suspect about its culture.
Title/Tag: When uploading to SoundCloud, put “[sss-language]” in the title of your track. Also include the term “sss-language” as a tag. This will help us find it.
Group: Once the track is uploaded, click on the “Add to group” button below the waveform and select the Society for Spontaneous Singing group. (This option will only appear if you have already joined the group! So do that now.)
Linking: You are welcome to include this info in your description:
This track is a reply to “SSS Prompt 7: Discover a hidden language.” More on the Society for Spontaneous Singing at http://singthis.org .
Thank you, sweet singers!
Jascha & Amado