Cunt to Cosmos

Flight of the cuntsI need to write about the sexuality of singing. More precisely, and from a woman’s perspective, about the communication between the cunt and the cosmos. Within the trajectory of my life-long vocal research (in progress), this chapter – accompanied by the brilliant containment and potent focus of traditional Bulgarian singing techniques – is about integration and revelation.

Integration meaning anchoring yourself, your intention and your sound in a living, active, welling source (the pelvic floor). Then, allowing this energy to travel up, unobstructed, to a delicious (revealing) mouth. What? Yes. “Delicious” implies accessibility, vulnerability, visibility, taste-ability. Allowing the joy (sound) to flow is like allowing an orgasm; you can’t make it happen, but you can create favorable circumstances, favorable balances of tension and release, and favorable alternations in rhythm.

Revelation implies an unlocked jaw, an active (often visible) tongue, pert and willing cheeks and present eyes (even when they are closed). From source to the surface, from cunt to cosmos, in a blink, in a lift, in a breath…

And so, breath is now available to carry the song, to carry lines, shapes, densities, colors, textures, but the flow, the flow, must be unobstructed. This is a concept reflected and verified in so many singing traditions, I know, but I needed to talk about it today, because I feel that the cunt is still vilified in our freshly patriarchal societies. The deep power of the cunt, in music, art and life (both personal and social), is feared and hushed, and this is a loss for us singers. We do it in secret. We lift and flow and cum, musically, spiritually, but we are shamed for our beauty, or used. We are diva-fied, shallowed, stuck out in front of bands in sexy attire, reduced to singing a few lyrics in amongst the musical fabric, the playground of spirit that a voice could so honour…

Someone like Tina Turner takes it to a whole other level – that lioness power. She has made more than friends with this particular feminine mojo, in a glorious earthy way. I deplore the absence of ground in a lot of the sexy singers we see in this era, both in the west and the east. It is a diluted, tamed corruption of the concept. The tits, ass and supplicant lips are often given an eery childlike (powerless) quality. Those who ground the feminine power, who earth it, however, are wanted now. I want them. To be. Watch out.

Cunt power is fearsome, awesome, slow and will alter things. I cannot get a clear sound without my cunt. People fall in love with singers, and hate on them, because of it. It is a flow we must all claim. In a music industry dominated by men and machines, there is a lack of reverence for this power. This is why I am so grateful to be working with more acoustic and acapella collaborations at this time, dare I call them cunt collectives… (This includes all those sensitive male musos, who connect with earth and water in their matrix!)

Thanks for listening!

NOTE: For anyone who was shocked or delighted by my use of the word ‘cunt’ follow the link below to discover amazing diverse stories concerning the etymology of this currently debased word…

Origins of the word ‘Cunt’.

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WANTED

Choosing a life of self-structure. Choosing a rhythm that allows for deep plunges into self-organizing chaos, meaning: music that rides in on tides of trust, tunes helmed by blindfolded graces – those that don’t need to see, but that know already, the undoing of all certainties, and the brilliance that can be embodied at the cusp of willingness… WTF?

This means large portions of empty calendar. Like a whole two months to write. This means stashing nuts when they come. Not spending. This means living on the fringe in ways. It means opting out of some things I used to know, like rent rhythms and lush laurels. Being at the flight deck of how much I work is fabulously surreal. I’ve come to feel that the vertigo of “how will it all possibly come together?” is just a page of the book flipping over in the wind. That book, long abandoned in the wild grasses of the olive grove. Dragonflies have led the eye and mind elsewhere. How frivolous of one! To live so close to the edge of love. (Meaning gratitude).

Faced with the impossibility of planning. Sure, there’s fishing… there’s casting out the wishes, the bios, photos, the recordings – those imperfect recordings – traces of the mojo that serve to perpetuate the flow. YES. I have been following the ‘yes’. After the void of yesteryear, it came about as an experiment: what if I just go where I am wanted?  WANTED.

wantedposterAnd so came emails out of the blue, people asking me to come to you. And the whole thing began to look like a farce / a trick of the eye, as the evidence of self-surrender rose about me, in a tide of gurgling, giggling, why not’s! Turn up. Flank yourself. As close as you can to your bliss. Damn! The pain of separations are like the night and day, giving way, not nearly as overwhelming as they appear, when on the great wheel of stars, a voice so clear, calls out your YES.

(So in practical terms that means I am in Bulgaria, writing new songs toward this album of mine, and being extended on a daily basis, because I can hear things that I can’t yet play… Love it!)

Koprivshtitsa

Koprivshtitsa National Folklore Festival happens only every 5 years!  Named after the potent Kopriva (nettle), this seriously charming cluster of stone and wooden houses is nestled in the Sredna Gora mountains, in central Bulgaria.  Renowned for its role in the 1876 uprising, Koprivshtitsa  now opens its valley arms for 3 days and nights, to travelers from all around the country and the globe…

Fleeting impressions for me – in the bustle, in the heat… bus loads of singers, players and dancers from all over the country, come and go. Impressive army tents house these humble magicians, in the fields beneath the village.  Fancifully-retro dressed by day, plain-clothe ninja’s by night.  The best parties happen in the dark, long after the official program has finished, and yet, in broad daylight, flanked by beer sponsored parasols and busy promotional banners, swamped by folk-thirsty admirers in garish modern attire, they always seem to protect and carry the mysterious presence of their ancestors, both in their sound and movement.  Powerful voices break through mediocre PAs, elegant feet fly in bewitching unison over plain concrete slabs, all beneath a heavy blue sky, between the tall pines.

The most beautiful old women you have ever seen, brandish brilliant smiles with single teeth, wear showers of golden coins on their bosom, carry plump roses in their hair, and make their painstaking way up and down the mountain every day, from forest stages to cobbled streets, all in good time, laughing at us travelers, for a reason or two…

 WATCH & LISTEN HERE

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Flying

Flying by the seat of one’s pants!!

I learn of the final exam the day before it (my tutor forgot to tell me!?)

Enjoy the perks of lost-in-translation: “see you at 10:30, warmed up” is not “see you at 10:30, to warm up”.  I swoop in, sweaty from the walk, and the panel asks – are you ready?  Why, YES, of course!  Something good told me to warm up at home…

A rocky first verse or two with that husky morning voice – vocal chords a little too loose for the bright timbre required.  Then, I sing my heart out, soaring to the mountains beyond the leaves, through arching phrases, sexy ornaments and cheeky rhythms, through lush floating vowels and cutting consonants, endeavoring to apply everything I have learned this year… all in a few moments, a few couplets, AND with feeling, please!

Today’s offering, offered.

Some tunes require such a delicious balance of strength and suppleness, such a blend of light and dark, that I feel like I am on a tightrope, and in love.  I get that this ‘search’ will last all my life – like ‘the search’ for the perfect wave that surfers devote themselves to, without expecting to, or needing to, actually ever find it… the process itself is the magic.

The luminous smile on my teachers face says she is proud enough.

What a crazy experience.  A whole year singing old folk songs in Bulgarian dialects!  Why does this music and language grow on me like this?  My love and admiration has only deepened… and I feel, somehow, carried by the daily challenge.

Spring Snow

Mother Spoke To The Sun

My first impressions of this voice were mineral: A native copper resonance driving through space. The sedimentary influence of centuries of song. The inner core of a purifying ore, reversing the corrosion of our spirits. A high density alkaline substance with an electrical conductivity that reaches the intelligence of my skin…

If my ears were eyes, they would see flint, glinting on the stream bed. If my ears were hands, they would feel raw ochre, crumbling with gold dusts. And if my ears were tongues, they would taste iron, kale and honey.

Though we work with scores and all these songs are written down for some form of posterity, the living treasure and actual significance comes through only in the human transmission. Week after week, Svetla Stanilova offers her voice, her mana-wahine and her patience – to transmit the tone, the phrasing and the ornaments that will carry our stories, be they of love or war.

Working in the old ochre building (The Yellow School) with its peeling facade and sunny outlook, is a treat. Our gazes plunge down over the roman amphitheater like birds, then out to the Rhodope Mountains beyond, as she sings me Mama na Slwncho Govori (Mother Spoke to the Sun) from nearby Pazardjik… LISTEN HERE

The Yellow School

Conversations with Dora Hristova

I want to share with you some moments gleaned from my conversations with Prof. Dora Hristova, choir conductor of “Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares”. This is the very choir who’s recordings I heard as a child and who’s phenomenal sound planted in my being the dream of one day coming to this land.

The privilege it is for me to study now with Dora H. in her last year at the music academy in Plovdiv, is doubled with a deep gratitude for her willingness to allow me to sit-in on LMVB choir rehearsals in Sofia, every now and again. There, I get to experience the visceral, pungent timbre of these women’s voices first hand, in process, embodied, as it is today. The generations interweave, the political movements are felt. Amongst trials and triumphs, struggles and successes, the single binding factor is this mysterious magnetic vocal style, and when the women sing, everything else falls away…

Dora Hristova BW med

Conductor

– from conversations at Nikolay Haytov Chitalishte and Dora Hristova’s home in March 2015. Features samples from LMVB rehearsals + extracts of the songs “Dva Shopska Dueta” & “Kalimankou Denkou”.

By the Yantra River

A time of change. Though some would say it is always the time of change. The illusion of shapes. The imprint they have on a mind. Pathways worn deep.  Grooves of the assumed – until a landslide, an earthquake, a breakup, occurs. And so we are blessed with the task of release. The lights flashing up off the water already know this. We get to hug trees that stand crooked with their wounds and ever reaching stillness. We get to watch cascades of rubbish mingle with sweet wide waters. We get to see the open plan of a fisherman’s face, the space it has learned from watching water flow. And we get to notice the absence of water, in fact, in the stiff mugs of the city folk. But music is water…

On tour with Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs.  We get to bring loud dense sound, sensual rhythm and calls from the cosmos to underground bars, where youth and youth at heart, throb and drink. We get to drive and drive, and watch winter trees passing by like paper cutouts against the affectionate pressing in of a low sun. We get to forget and remember, and forget again, the people we thought we were, the people we thought we needed. Just the sun now, the thistles, and the wind. The wind, caressing the land, the wind picking the foam up off the waves, the wind coursing through the instruments, that breath moving from mouth to mouth, and back alone.

And through this thing, this music, that passes, we get to die, all together, and we love each other better for it.  One morning, in the old, old town of Veliko Tarnovo, I sang to the Yantra River…

Yantra River

 

Kukeri

In a small village not too far from Plovdiv, a motley carnival crowd gathers beneath the cold cloud to soak up the transformative energy of the Kukeri.

The men of the village, costumed and masked, wear a belt of clanging copper bells and carry wooden swords, symbols of fertility, with which they may bless your shoulder. Beautiful black hessian hoods in pyramid form are carried high and sometimes come down to shroud the men. They have already been through the houses to chase the evil spirits away and to bring good health, abundant harvest and happiness. Now they dance-walk, encircling the driving solar rhythms of the ‘tapan’ drums and the hypnotic melodies of the ‘zurna’ wind instrument, played by local Romani musicians.

Kukeri

Traditionally performed only by men, today it is a young woman in hidden-heel-bling-sneakers who carries the leading phallus of the parade. Incongruous rubber gorilla masks mingle with the more traditional woolley-horned spirits and some beautifully hand-made colourful cloth masks…

A ritual that was forbidden during the totalitarian years here exudes a rough kind of gusto – tattooed muscle smokes in the back-line, but there is always time for that energetic whacking of peoples backs with an inflated sheep’s stomach, to chase out evil spirits and bring good health!

Further…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQKFnFAUdHE
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=459170877522636&theater