Arts Of The Working Class Logo


When is voice accessible and when is not?

  • Aug 01 2022
  • The Gray Voice Ensemble & The Anonymous Writing Group
    The GVE is a Berlin community choir established by E. Wood in 2013, currently meeting once a week near
    Kottbtusser Tor.
    The TAWG is a sister project of The GVE and the primary text source for the ensemble’s repertoire.

When is the voice accessible?                  

When is the voice inaccessible?*

 *(Text in bold refers to the accesibility of the voice, text in italic to the inacessibility)


s1: i'm trying to understand what an accessible voice is. bear with me, it’s a process. i'm exploring what it could mean. is it a question of how we experience the voice?
s1: and then, i think about our emotional cores / our culture / whether it makes a difference.

s2: Wenn die Schultern entspannt sind. Wenn der Hals offen ist. Wenn der Punkt zwischen den Augenbrauen zugänglich ist. Wenn die Füße fest auf dem Boden stehen und die Brust sich weitet. Wenn der Kopf aufgerichtet ist und das Brustbein der Welt entgegensteht.

s2: Wenn man sich klein macht. Wenn man sich krümmt. Wenn man den Hals verbirgt und den Kopf einzieht. Wenn man sich nicht traut. Wenn man nicht steht, nicht zu sich selbst, nicht bei sich. Für nichts. 

s3: a voice is accessible when it answers, when its response assumes responsibility, when it shares its origin, is accountable, impressionable, when there is an opening. accessibility is a porous border where there is exchange, incoming strangers and strangeness, contrast, not assimilation or incorporation. accessibility is the opposite of rigidity. accessibility presupposes the willingness to be forever changed.  

s4: Adulte, cette voix trouve le chemin de son émancipation. Elle évolue entre différentes cultures, emprunte différentes langues, s’exprime enfin libre.
s4: Enfant, cette voix qui ne sort pas de ma bouche. Je la pousse hors de ma gorge, elle s’obstine à y rester. Plus j’appuie sur mes cordes vocales, moins l’air ne peut atteindre mes poumons. Sans souffle, point de voix.

s5: It’s not just a question of how the voice can be reached, but also where and when the voice can reach (go or do). When is the voice actively accessing? A voice, in the contexts of community and song, can be said to be both accessible (receptive) and accessing (active) in polyphony, which means multiple voices, each voice carving out its own distinct path, weaving through rather than standing out in front of the others. Suspension is a technique for voices to enter a new space. While one voice remains in one position, suspended, other voices shift in a series of steps creating multiple instances of dissonance and tension. Eventually the voices align themselves in a new space where the dissonance is resolved, for the moment, until it resurfaces. Every voice gives and takes. There are no rules about which voice leads the others into a new unexpected space. When it is done well, the result is surprising. 

s6: The voice is accessible when you do something with it, when you risk, when you play with it, when you do not take it for granted.

s6: Manchmal ist die Stimme für mich da, manchmal nicht. Ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob es wirklich immer an mir liegt. 

s3: when a voice sends sound and a recipient receives and interprets its message a passage appears. 
when the voice moves through the passage, it mutates, transforms and flows into the other. a passage is an access. a crossing, a transit, a ferry ride between two continents. an access is multiple hosts welcoming unexpected gatecrashers. it needs difference, encounter and reverberation for there to be accessibility. 


s8: It’s a rainy Friday night in early March when we first meet. Unaware that the pandemic will soon cause us to go into lockdown, the musician turns to the conversation with a gentle focus, asking in a soft voice, “How was your day? Are you hungry?”. An Instagram story about a protest was the first sign she was beginning to find her voice. "Enough was finally enough," she later wrote in an article. She was a hard worker far away on a small ranch, but that does not mean there was not a powerful voice inside! So, how did she do it? “Keep your tongue flat in the back — like, flatten it over the back of your teeth,” she says, her wide eyes narrowing with focus as she observes me. “It’s funny, people are always talking about the voice. It’s the first thing they mention. Second is the turtleneck. But the voice is number one." 

s9: There is a voice that is accessible in the fantasies it projects into imagined pasts or futures, in hunger and ambition, in desperation and survival. “Sing for your luncheon and you’ll get dinner. Dine with wine of choice if romance is in your voice.” (Lorenz Hart)

s9: When I don’t believe that I can even sing.


s1: accessibility is about our comfort zones, and some things transcend this diaspora and light up individuals on a more primal level. happiness, laughter, crying / hymns / containers to be moved inside.
s10: When Joe Starkey came along, with his story and his song / He swept our Nelly, off her feet, in that bar, on Boney Street / Here's to Nelly / And here's to Bobby / To every Flooschie / To Joe McStarkey / You have a choice / We have a choice / Through song and sound / We have a voice.

s10: Nelly Loo, sat all alone, in a bar at Central Bone / Thinking of what might have been, had she said yes that evening.

s3: a voice is accessible when it is cared for. when a voice doesn’t need to be a voice. but can be a howl escaping translation.
s3: sometimes you need to learn a different language, a nonverbal language built upon rafts and the movement of water to access a voice far out on the spectrum. sometimes making it accessible doesn’t mean working on the voice but working on the environment around the voice, to allow it to move freely in space so it can give up being identified as a voice and become mere sound, eluding classification.

s1: there are sung voices directly experienced that can transcend borders. felt all over the body of those that catch them. your bones sing too sometimes. i don't know if robots can make this type of noise. 

s7: Sound of My Voice human voice sampled altered or pitch-shifted and triggered perceptions of what a music piece could be.

s1: it’s how it activates you.

s11: In absentia / De unde vine și unde se duce ea, vocea? / Unde se pitește când nici nu vine, nici ajunge, nici pleacă, nici revine; înspre un etern mâine / Oare e ca-n basmul de pe vremea piciorului mic prins în spițele cele mari? Pajul efemer o atrage-n săli de bal sub claruri de multe luni, la danț nebun, rupând condur după condur in praf de drum; neostoită și departe de lumea înlănțuită fără de ea. În absența ei mușc din cuvinte străine idei, le zdrobesc între măselele minții și aștept, fum după tfum.

Written by the members: Amélie Bonet, Arne Edvard, Black Tears, E. Wood (ed.), felice zhukov, Girl Thing Winter Sundance, GJP, Jana Papenbroock, Melone, Olivia Berning and pandaemonika 


Banner: Fallon Mayanja, In The Noise Of Being 
© Anne Reijiniers

This Contribution was released with the support of Rudolf Augstein Stiftung, Bundesverband Soziokultur, Neustarthilfe, Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.



To improve our website for you, please allow a cookie from Google Analytics to be set.

Basic cookies that are necessary for the correct function of the website are always set.

The cookie settings can be changed at any time on the Date Privacy page.