Chlorys - The Alchemy of Voices

"The human voice is the first and most natural musical instrument, also the most emotional" - Klaus Schulze.

Upon relentless scrolls & clicks through the internet, I gradually became aware of my interest for the human voice, its vocal apparatus and the process of voice production. For me, it is very difficult to grasp the notion, but at the same time extremely gratifying. Scientifically, the origin of the human voice can be traced without much effort, but my interest in the subject transfixes me on another, more poetic and political level, so to speak. Aside from the capability of the voice to be trained in order to sound pleasing (or not) to the human ear, the voice is a political tool, whether you are consciously using it to send a message or not, the gesture of not using it is itself political. I myself am not a talkative person and I make brief use of it, the way I relate to my voice is extremely personal, as it is for everyone else.

Joan La Barbara's seminal work The Voice is the Original Instrument (1976) was one of the starting points in my research, followed by works by John Cage, Meredith Monk, Morton Feldman, Demetrio Stratos, inuit & tuvan throat singing, the spoken word pieces by Delia Derbyshire in The Dreams and those of Gudrun Gut & Myra Davies, Gustav Holst's Neptune, Karlheinz Stockhausen's work for six vocalists called Stimmung, Breadwoman / Anna Homler and surely recordings from the Musique du Burundi LP (Collection Ocora, 1968).

A comprehensive and well structured guide to the world of vocal expressions would be a compilation commissioned by the National Centre of Scientifical Research from France, called Les Voix Du Monde : Une Anthologie Des Expressions Vocales (Le Chant Du Monde, 1996). It comprises funeral lamentations from Romania, interjections in No theatre, onomatopoetic songs, sermons, yodeled songs, spirit voices, etc.

Hungarian poet Katalin Ladik's body of work mostly consists of performances during which she would to deploy and manipulate her voice. Her work, formed within the liberal cultural scene of Vojvodina by the end of the '60s, deals with discourses of sexuality. She used to put herself, her body and her voice into the position of both the subject and the object of her own art. Phonopoetica (1976, Galerija SKC) will provide you with substantial insight into her work.

Choreographer and dancer Yvonne Rainer's work often focused on sounds and movements, she would often juxtapose the two in arbitrary combinations. Being interested in the ordinary, everyday life and rooted in political feminist beliefs, she began to see the possibilities for fragmenting the body and its voice. She would employ narrative and verbal noises such as grunts, mumbles, squeaks, shrieks and wails into her performances.

"When I was first working with my voice I didn't know anybody who was working in that way. It was quite a lonely path, but if I look back on it now, I feel fortunate that I was alone because I really was able to explore my own internal voice." Meredith Monk

*Words & mixtape by Chlorys

*Photo: Katalin Ladik


  • Trevor Wishart - Globalalia (excerpt)
  • Norte Lambert - Vocal Safari
  • COH plays Cosey - Closer
  • Lily Greenham - Are You the Kind of Person
  • Sainkho Namchylak / Ned Rothernberg - Ancient Garden
  • Katalin Ladik - Aki Darazsakról Álmodik (excerpt)
  • M’lou Zahner Ollswang - Mosquitos
  • Nadine Bal - Le Somnitere de l’eternite
  • Laetitia deCompiegne Sonami - What Happened (excerpt)
  • Meredith Monk - Early Morning Melody
  • Human Flesh - Third Mirage
  • Anna Caragnano & Donato Dozzy - Fraledune
  • Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemnle - Dawn
  • Carlo Gesualdo - O Vos Omnes (excerpt)
  • Joan La Barbara - Cathing (excerpt)
  • Joan La Barbara - Autumn Signal (excerpt)
  • HER VOICE (Diana Miron, Maria Balabaș, Carmen Coțofană, Bogdana Dima) - Live Recording at Euroradio (excerpt)
  • Jocy de Oliveira - Estoria IV (excerpt)
  • Jocelyn Pook - Oppenheimer
  • Max Roach with Abbey Lincoln on vocals - Triptych (Prayer, Protest, Peace) (excerpt)
  • Lupus - Howling Comique
  • Tom Waits - What’s He Building

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