Friday, May 27, 2011

Found Your Voice . . . Yet? - P. A. Black

As a kid I was always fascinated by sound. Whenever I had the chance to try a musical instrument that I’d never played before I usually managed to coax a tune out of it. It all started when I was three and was given my first harmonica.

Once I was tall and strong enough I stood on one foot and pumped with the other, picking out melodies with my right hand, while steadying myself with the other. First were single-note melodies of choruses and then came double notes and elementary harmony. The pump organ eventually went out of the house and a piano came in.

Musical exploration went on from there till a wide range of instruments were tackled (tackled, I say – never mastered!). There were times when I improvised, as many children do, with household items – pots pans, glasses, string, elastic bands, and what-not. I learned, and nobody had to tell me, that everything has its own natural frequency – a length of two-by-four, a piece of metal, a wooden board, crockery and cutlery, a room; they all have a voice waiting to be heard. That interest eventually found me many years later restringing pianos, tuning grand pianos for concerts, and making a weekly trip to the city’s BBC studios.

Oh yes, everything potentially has a voice, whether of the insect world, or of birds on the wing, and animals on land or creatures in the sea. The wind gives soothing voice as it strokes leaves like a bow over delicate strings, or vents fury in a hurricane. Trees creak and groan with expansion and contraction from heat and cold, or clap their hands as their branches jostle in the wind. Each forest has its own sound. So do the waters of sea and river. Not to forget the musical plop-plop-plop of water from a leaky tap, the gurgling flush of a toilet, and the swirling vortex of water exiting a bath.

The psalmist, extolling the virtues of creation, glows with a similar realization: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard (Psalm 19:1-3).”
Modern science is now able to bring to us sounds from the vast “emptiness” of space, for it is full of energy and sound. It just has to be provided with a means to be heard.

Perhaps we understand “voice” so much better today than former generations. Women are to be given a voice, and also are youth, children, the poor, those physically impaired, and those developmentally challenged. Their advocates urge that each of these groups, with their needs and aspirations and their distinct contributions to the social, cultural, and intellectual soundscape, should be heard.

Writers must find their own distinct voice. As I read colleague Donna Mann’s recent blog post the thought occurred: Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, the writer of narrative must have the eye, ear, touch, and heart of a storyteller. Each aspect contributes towards the individual’s writing voice.

I’m not quite sure that I’ve found mine –or should I say, not sure that it is fully developed. But I am sure the voice of God wants to be heard through the voice He gives me. Therefore I focus my eyes, attune my ears, and touch the world around me, and let those inputs reach my heart. These will give character, timbre, and authenticity to my writing voice.

May our voices speak, sing, and sound in the eternal soundscape to God’s praise and glory.
© Peter A. Black.
Black is the weekly inspirational columnist at The Watford Guide-Advocate, and the author of “Parables from the Pond” (Word Alive Press; ISBN 1897373-21-X).


Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thanks, Peter for these thoughts. I know that you voice is always one of encouragement. You are constantly offering well thought through words in response to the blogs of your fellow writers that offer great encouragement.
I can't count the number of times that my spirits have been lifted by your comments.

Donna Mann said...

Thank you for the reference to my blog. Thinking of music and an author's voice, we are like a choir, each singing our own part. As Eleanor said, you are a great encourager. In the mess of worldly noise, your words of care resonate gently, creating a positive impact.

Peter Black said...

Donna and Eleanor,
Thank you. Your comments are very generous.
Since I only occasionally contribute to the general listserve discussion I decided some time ago, that whenever possible, I would read the blogspot posts and provide a reflection, as a contribution to our friends and colleagues' writing lives.
Blessing and joy to you both.

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