Yin and Yang, Space and Time

To communicate, we call each other.

Our breath has to travel, to be propelled forward, it travels in Space.  This breath swings out, it moves on, it has impetus, it communicates with urgency.  Borrowing from China, call it the Yang breath.

However our communication, however brief takes Time.  We have to keep breath to keep the communication alive as we call. This breath is a retaining, a keeping of space, a maintaining of opening through the torso and throat, often described by singers as ‘feeling as if you are inhaling when you start a phrase’, the classic bel canto adage: ‘inhalare la voce’, vividly descriptive of the sense of using and building on the breath we have summoned for a communication.

Both these breaths are vital and need to be simultaneously available, just as the yin and yang symbols are enclosed in a circle and have each other’s eyes.

The Yang breath is our urge to communicate our response to our environment- (or our embodying of the composer’s response). The Yin breath is inevitably evoked because our response takes time. Even the shortest staccato response takes measurable time, so we are always retaining and keeping as part of our sending out, our calling, our communication.

As singers we are in constant motion. We are responding, via our music and text, to the world as conveyed in that music, and we articulate our response, which provokes new responses, new phrases, and so on. If we find our two breaths working together, we achieve an equilibrium through motion, again, nicely encapsulated in the implied dynamism of the yin-yang symbol.

In this way every gesture, response, communication we make, has an immediate, living, vital and whole relationship to our environment. Truthful communication is from the inside out and the outside in. How can we observe the movement of these opposite patterns? How can we readily gain access to them? The exercises I am developing for Barefoot Opera explore this issue.

Dean Hearne

Dean Hearne, United Kingdom