Sound & Voice (Updated: 05/08/18)

“You hear the pipes of men, don’t you, but not yet the pipes of earth, the pipes of earth but not yet the pipes of Heaven?” – Chuang-tzu¹

We can resonate not only with music, but with silence. Animal sounds, chatter, traffic, and all the sounds of the modern world can inspire and manipulate the way we move. We also have the option to block out all sound. Just like we can do movement mirroring (copying another’s movements), we can also attempt to sound mirror any and every sound, even if they are industrial.

The following is a list of body sounds: smacking lips, teeth chattering, humming, tongue clicking, tamping, clapping, finger snapping, hands rubbing on body parts, slapping of body parts.


When we deterritorialize the human voice or utilize reduction & regeneration by X, we get into the sound of the body cavities, of which there are several. Experiment with creating sounds from various parts of the throat, sinuses, and other body cavities, which are not ordinarily observed/accepted as part of the human voice.

A major re/deterritorializion/reduction is the silent shout. Or try out a ghostly whisper. Another is the gutteral/drain/”toilet vocals” sound such as that often used in the goregrind genre of extreme metal.

Vowel Gradients

The major vowels are A O U E I. With each vowel, we can form a pitch gradient, going from our natural lowest to highest.

Here is an example of A from my lowest to highest pitch.

Once we have gone through each vowel, we can then begin to flow through them.

There is a gradient, for instance, between A and O.

We can do the same from O to U and so forth till we have a fluid flow and loop between all the vowels.

Here is an example of going through the vowels in a fluid manner.

A O U E I A O U E I . . .

The final step we can try is to go through the vowels in a fluid manner while gradually shifting from the lowest to the highest pitch.

These are good exercises for opening up the playing field in order to shift endlessly between pitch and vowels. You can also experiment with m hum pitch shifting and connecting to vowels as well, e.g. emmmmm or the quite familiar ommmmm.

Space Pitching

We can also connect the space to the pitch gradient. For instance, we can start at the A low pitch from one side of the room and by the time we get to the other side of the room, we meet our high pitch. The movement should flow smoothly along with the pitch gradient. This exercise is similar to the Breath Across Space aka lunging.  After, you can experiment with stopping (which holds the note), and playing with the pitches.

Peter Brook’s Sound Communication

One of Peter Brook’s exercises involves wordless communication. The following is from his book The Empty Space:²

An actor sits at one end of the room, facing the wall. At the other end another actor, looking at the first one’s back, not allowed to move. The second actor must make the first one obey him. As the first one has his back turned, the second has no way of communicating his wishes except through sounds, for he is allowed no words. This seems impossible, but it can be done. It is like crossing an abyss on a tightrope: necessity suddenly produces strange powers.


We deterritorialize the human word by engaging our gibberish or baby babble. An inspiration also can be that of glossolalia, speaking in tongues, which is associated with the Pentecostal Christian church. Another inspiration can be the schizophrenic.

J Leff on speaking about schizophrenese, says that the words are clear but their connections are not. The meaning, then of the words, despite their intact units of speech are vague or confusing. J Leff’s schizophrenese example from a patient: “In my mind is a gist of something that’s coming you see and to get them prepared unto on and then when the Lord is ready that gist that’s back in my head when the Lord says so my Lord there’s then supplied the people who who’s ready to who have been applied to come in and coincide their in on the thing the Lord bringeth forth to for me to say on that day on how and how and there and when to coincide their in unto with me.”³


One can shift from hearing the surrounding or ignoring it. One can also shift to hearing one’s internal body, especially in the mouth if the tongue/lips are moved around.

Exercise: Worst Soundscape

Resonate with the most unfavorable music or soundscape such as dogs barking and/or babies crying.


¹ Zhuangzi, , and A C. Graham. Chuang-tzŭ: The Seven Inner Chapters and Other Writings from the Book Chuang-Tzŭ. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1981. Print.
² Brook, Peter. The Empty Space. New York :Atheneum, 1968. Print. Page 59.
³ Leff, J (1993) Comment on Crazy Talk: Thought Disorder or Psychiatric Arrogance by Thomas Szasz. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 66, 77-78.