Accepted paper:

A living archaeology of song: tracing vibrational qualities of breath on its pathways through the singer


Caroline Gatt (University of Aberdeen)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I explore the way the experimental theatre makers I work with develop a practice that, resonating with Feld’s acoustemology, is a “reflexive feedback between sounding and listening” to breath in song.

Paper long abstract:

Breathing is a process that exemplifies the porous relationship between persons and world. In this sense breath is a "forgotten material mediation" (Irigaray 1999). For Ingold (2010) air is also a medium, without which life itself could not flow. Thinking about breathing in these terms evokes its vital and I will argue constitutive qualities. For the experimental theatre makers I work with breath is a life path to be followed and listened to in oneself while singing. The path that breath takes through one's cavities, memories, muscles and hopes is the story of one's very make up. According to Grotowski, a twentieth century theatre maker, each singing tradition has its own vibrational qualities which depend on how breath resonates differently in the body. My theatre colleagues engage with Grotowski's work also through a particular skill of paying attention to breath during singing. In this active listening the singer searches their own interior landscapes and the relationship between self and world and others singing with you, of course while responding to this with one's own singing. Here is a practice where listening to breath in song is always an explicit listening to relational histories of listening (Feld 2015). In this paper I explore the way these experimental theatre makers develop a practice that resonating with Feld's acoustemology is a "reflexive feedback between sounding and listening" to breath. Theirs is a journey by means of song where the vibration of breath in persons is understood to leave constitutional traces.

panel P01
Exposure: interdisciplinary perspectives on breath, air and atmospheres