Music and writing and voice

So, one of the fun things that often happens, when I spend the day at the Folk Festival, listening to so many different musicians and kinds of music side by side, is that I always begin comparing performances, and thinking art-and-process thoughts.

This time what I noticed was this: that for each singer there seemed to be certain songs that were just meant for their voice–that fit them, that they slide back into easily and comfortably, like sliding on an old glove, like they belong and are at home with the music. The older musicians, the ones who’d clearly been doing this a while, did this the most often, while for younger ones it might vary more song to song. But there were songs each of them had a voice for–were meant for–in a way that went beyond the mechanics of singing.

And of course there are writing parallels here. It’s good to be flexible, to expand one’s tool box–crucial, even. Voice shouldn’t become a trap, a set of walls we can’t get beyond. Having started writing with a vague idea of voice and little else, I know this far too well.

But trying to wear a voice that truly isn’t your own doesn’t work either–it shows, it sounds forced. There are stories each of us are meant to tell, songs each of us are meant to sing, acts we’re meant to do–and it’s worth being on the lookout for those, and giving them the time they deserve when we find them.

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