35 Questions About Your Voice
As if trying to write an album-length work in under a year were not challenging enough, with Co.operative we’ve decided to also try and design a creative, collaborative process that allows 13 singers from different backgrounds to co-create and contribute authentic pieces of themselves to that work.
It is not easy.
As I write this, it has been about two months since we began this experiment and, candidly, I think we have mostly learned that we can’t pre-determine how this process will go or how we each will contribute. Instead, it seems that the better we are at building brave, collaborative spaces with one another, the more surprised we’ll be at the turns we take in our process. That’s what makes the project so exciting.
That being said, we had to start somewhere! And in the early days of struggling to move from thinking about starting the process to actually just starting, we decided to pose ourselves a question. This question hinged on the one thing that brought us all into the project in the first place: our voices. We had already decided that we were making “music for our voices” after all. But what is the voice, anyway? And what are our relationships to it?
To begin discussions that (we hoped!) would allow us to dive deeper into thinking about the voice (and most importantly, to learn more about our relationships to it and each other) we worked together to come up with a list of questions.
This list needed to be broad enough to work in service to a concept as expansive as “the voice” while also allowing us to tease out specific stories, experiences, and themes that mattered and that connected us.
We drew inspiration from lists like “36 Questions That Lead to Love” and Chicago artist’s Benji Hart’s “45 Questions to Ask While Waiting,” started a shared Google Doc, and got brainstorming. One week later, we had the 35 question list below. We’d like to share this list with you now, as a way to peek into our (ever-evolving) process, reflect more on your own voice, and maybe even spark some ideas to explore in your own artistic practice.
Let us know where it takes you.
1. What do you think is a strength in your voice? Mechanically? Metaphorically?
2. What is your voice to you?
3. What do you think your voice is missing?
4. What adds strength to your voice?
5. Where/when do you feel like you are the loudest? The quietest? Why?
6. For whom do you employ your voice? Why?
7. What musical style does your voice sound best in?
8. What does it physically feel like in your body when you sing?
9. When/where are you most likely to sing?
10. What sound always makes you smile?
11. How do you celebrate when something good happens?
12. What do you think is the temperature of your voice when you speak?
13. Have you ever wished your voice were different? Why and in what way?
14. Tell me something about the voice of one of the adults you grew up around.
15. How did you feel about reading aloud in class growing up? (Can you set the scene?)
16. What are the first vocalizations you make in the mornings?
17. When do you feel most able to speak your truth?
18. What music do you like to sing but think is not really “for your voice”? Why is that?
19. How often do you think about things you’ve said?
20. How often do you think about things you’ve said and later regretted?
21. Tell me about a time you sang in public spontaneously. What happened? How did it feel?
22. What sorts of songs do you usually cover?
23. Do you listen to ASMR? If so (and you want to share), which triggers are your favorite?
24. Tell a story about a time you heard a pleasant voice.
25. Did anyone ever sing you lullabies? Post a memorable lyric, if so, and describe the singer’s voice. How and when does your voice mimic that voice, if it ever does?
26. What are the gaps in your musical background? How do you think this impacts your musicianship?
27. Why “music”? Why “for”? Why “our”? Why “voices”?
28. Describe a time you spoke up for someone else. Why did you do it?
29. What does your laugh sound like? What do your family + friends say your laugh sounds like? Are they different?
30. What’s the sound you make while publicly waiting for your computer to load? (On a zoom call screen share, customer service phone call, etc.)
31. What was the last reason you laughed? Cried? Screamed?
32. What languages do you speak? What are some of your favorite words in each language?
33. Are you generally more comfortable writing or speaking? Why?
34. How do you feel about crying when you sing?
35. What is your usual role in a group? Are you fulfilling that same role in Co.operative?