It is hard to imagine but we are currently living in an age of “post-truth.” It is difficult to wrap my mind around the idea that truth is not real but whatever someone says it is, yet this is being stated every day. This is incredibly dangerous. There is also “post-truth” singing.
Hiding behind things that are lies is not new. Many have done that since recorded history began. What’s new is that our mainstream society has become comfortable with that as a new normal. It has taken on the idea that we each “create our own reality” and grossly distorted what that means.
Let’s get something straight. Each of us is responsible for our own lives. We can choose how to react to what happens to us, or has happened in the past, and we can choose to deal with all repercussions of our existence in a positive manner, even if that is sometimes very challenging. Together, we create families, groups of friends, organizations, local and state governments, federal governments and world governments. In each of these we have groups of people who, more or less, agree to hold the same or nearly the same point of view. As the group increases in size, the power of the thoughts that hold it together magnifies. When the beliefs are held by millions of people, they get very powerful. Those who know how to harness those beliefs can be helpful or harmful, depending on their own philosophical ideas.
Only those beliefs which are uplifting are worth holding. All negative beliefs lead to pain and suffering, to harm and to deterioration. That which is dark, hidden, distorted and twisted produces the same. The only counterbalance to this is light, openness, honor, and yes, truth. That which is redeeming and uplifting is worthy and that which is degrading and condemning is not. A choice. A necessary choice, in every human being, every day. As Yoda would say, “Beware the dark side. It will overtake you if you let it.”
In singing, there have been individuals who have decided that what they believe, others should also believe. Some have done research (if you could call it that) on their own throats, assuming that what holds true for them automatically holds true for others. With hubris, these people decide that everyone else should cause the same movements within their throats that they see in their own. They dictate that these manipulative movements, whatever they may be, are good and useful. This ploy is powerful particularly to those who know little about the voice and who are easily swayed by any argument. We in our Western society have for hundreds of years rested upon the belief that science is based on truth, on data, on findings which are shared in order to be replicated without bias by others. Those who use science to build their case by manipulating the data to favor their own ideas are dangerous, as this is not science at all. It is “post-truth” information.
Only by observing a wide range of behaviors in a wide range of singers and comparing them, one to the other, can there be any science, valid and provable by objective measures. And, without a context in which the data is evaluated, the importance of it cannot be known. If I study gorillas in a cage in a lab, what does that tell me about gorillas in a rainforest? If I study “belters” in African bush culture is that the same as studying “belters” on Broadway? How can any valid conclusions be drawn? If I study myself, and I assume that all singers do exactly what I do, is that even possible to assume? By what means can we determine that?
Beware those who claim something based solely on their own experience. Beware people who would make themselves more powerful than others by declaration. “I am the only person who can tell you the truth” is never truthful. No. The only things that cannot lie, that will never lie, are the body itself and the throat as part of the body. Therein only lies the truth of freedom, of expression, of being alive as a human being.
Now, more than ever, it is necessary to take only that which can be found to be objective, and proved by objective measures, to be true. Beware all those who tell you they have the only answers. Do not be fooled by the noise, the packaging, the show, the marketing, the media circus. Trust, instead, your own voice and body, your own wisdom and your own heart. In singing and in life.