I taught an undergraduate performance composition seminar in Spring 2017 called “The Voice in Performance” that culminated in a final performance of group vocal improvisations and original solo work.
The voice is a body extending into the world; it is the world manifesting through a body. The voice transmits linguistic messages as well as unruly sonic forces that exceed language. The politics of race, gender, and sexuality are sounded out through the voice. Groups are formed and deformed through rituals of collective voicing. This course will experiment with the voice as a malleable material for generating interdisciplinary performances. The first half of the semester will be spent developing a solo performance with the performer’s voice as the primary medium of experimentation and the second half of the semester will be devoted to generating an ensemble vocal performance. There will be short reading assignments for each class (authors include Anne Carson, Nina Eidessheim, Mladen Dolar, Adriana Cavarero, Roland Barthes, Fred Moten, Karen Tongson, and Bernice Johnson Reagon) but class time will be primarily devoted to experimental vocal activities (drawn from the work of artists such as Anna Deavere Smith, Justin Vivian Bond, Gelsey Bell, and Pauline Oliveros) as well as sharing in-progress material. No prior training or interest in vocal performance is required although if you come with previously acquired vocal skills they will be honed and challenged.