Singers As Storytellers

Singers As Storytellers

The voice is a wonderful and singular instrument because of its unique ability to convey story. Composers have used variations in tempo, dynamics, melody, harmony and rhythm to convey a story, but singers have the added layer of text, and are thus uniquely equipped to also be storytellers. Here are 3 things singers must consider as storytellers:

#1. Compassion:
It’s essential for singers to be compassionate, because they are often telling stories of lives they haven’t lived. Conveying the experiences of others, especially when you have not shared those experiences yourself, requires a maturity, and a deep sense of empathy. Shifting your personal perspective to allow for the ideas and opinions of others to receive equal weight is an important aspect of the singer as a storyteller, especially since the stories singers are telling can be hundreds of years old; from a different time, and place.

#2. Narrative:
Telling a story that is sung requires both a compelling understanding of the text, but an even deeper understanding of how to use the music, and the human voice to convey all meanings of that text. A singer must use dynamics, tempo, inflection, enunciation, and emphasis to help them weave the text with the music to convey the true narrative.

#3. Community:
The best stories are the ones that truly resonate with a large group of people. Shared experiences shape our sense of community, and help us determine what holds shard meaning for us. Singers don’t necessarily need to have a community already, but they do need to consider the creation of one as they sing – including everyone, being open and honest, and sometimes vulnerable. Singers must be considerate of how their story will impact others; not everyone reacts to a story in the same way. Creating a safe space for storytelling through community is an important job.

What else must singers consider as storytellers? Tell us in the comments below!

Calgary Children's Choir