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Sara McCarthy
Category: Voicework


As humans, we are full of space. We are more bound together by the gaps between our molecules  than the fibres which surround them. This is not something we find easy to remember when we  are full of stress or congested by the demands of life. At times like this, our minds can feel  down by problems which appear to have a real density about them.

At Performance Frequency, I work with Sanskrit mantra. Chanting is often associated with relaxation  and calmness. Pouring our stress into sound, the Magic of Mantra can disappear it for us, sound and  sounding until there is no more. Sound carries it away.  

Sanskrit is the language of energy. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not – Sanskrit is hard- wired into our systems and will work on them. Sanskrit works directly on the body’s chakras or  energy centres. This is particularly helpful for people involved in Performing Arts or in Corporate  Presentations, who need the voice to really carry. As mantras hold frequency, we can change our  own frequency, by saying a particular mantra. Working with laughter, sounds of the belly, fear and  anger are all part of the range for which we can use the tools of sound. We can work directly on our  organs and start them detoxing. We can really fire up our system and become energised by sound Working with mantra, is like working with electricity. We can use it to increase our fuel, firing our get  up and go. We can use it to increase physical performance and well-being.

When people work with their voices, a lot opens up. The voice is the centre of creativity for the  whole body, so any creative talents already open will become enhanced; previously dormant  talents may emerge. Working with voice in this way, opens up our ability to be receptive and allows  inspiration to flow more readily. It is an excellent approach for writer’s block, or more mental work  requiring input. Voice is unique to us as individuals and when we use it we simultaneously reveal our  emotions, spirits and thoughts.

The more attention we pay to sound, the louder silence can be become. When people voice sound,  they are left with space. Some people cannot bear to be in silence. Some people can only live with  ITunes, TV, radio, or internet sound, on permanently. Silence is not always clear, but can hold a lot  of sound, such as when two people have had an argument, that is unfinished: they sit together in a  silence full of noise, in which the argument continues, unvoiced. There is a discomfort in the air. The  same can happen in our bodies, or in our cities – places where the silence holds no peace. Or there  are other places we go, where we can feel bathed in the silence of a place, and its very quiet can give.

I encountered such a place in the West of Ireland, living in a valley in Mayo. Maamtrasna gave me  a profound experience of hearing land. I was training in a form of body psychotherapy, known as  Biodynamic Psychotherapy, when I came across chanting with The Naked Voice Foundation. After a  couple of years of studying both, I stopped training to be a Psychotherapist and decided to become  a Naked Voice Facilitator instead. Following the sound practices developed by the Naked Voice’s  Founder, Chloë Goodchild, I became increasingly sensitive to the deep silence that pours from  that valley in Mayo, swells in the air to slow a body down, creating a sensation similar to moving  underwater; a place so still, that it feels possible to feel the very pulse of the earth, as it beats; a  place where the land’s history is visual, lying in ridges in the hills and where Famine is held strong  in bog, rock, field and road. I began to hear the energy of the land gathering and forming into  songs, wanting to be sung. One particular song, The Gathering, is about Famine and how different  generations may support each other to transcend this lineag.

For the past 4 years, I have been working with the city of Coventry, in a unique project called  Sounding Cov, interested in the impact of war trauma on land. This involved chanting continuously  for 11 hours through the night on November 14, followed by 1 hour of silence. Working in this way  for 4 years, has provided me with 44 hours of listening to a city, on a key anniversary in its history. In  a separate article, I will be writing up the findings of such sound listening.

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