Birds of a Feather - a poem inspired by the sound of crows
birds of a feather in the kitchen together,
we all share this meal, we've made a life, a pie,
many hands in the mix
another crow homeward at the end of the day,
the sunset hour when the veils of light and shadow
blend like cake batter
your echoing cry and my wing beats together in the blender
whipped up a thick recipe
a sound pouring over us
these crows in the kitchen, a sunset parade
my daydream traveler come home to me
you live in my heart
birds of a feather in the kitchen together
what will we create next? your birthday cake?
it could be any day to celebrate your flight, your music,
your echoing call across the canyon country,
from coast to coast
all the crows coming home at the end of the day
we share stories, we hear ourselves in each other's words
we the family, makin' cakes
birds of a feather in the kitchen together
Part memoir, part look into the healing power of songwriting... author and performing songwriter Mary Gauthier's book Saved by a Song : The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting potently delivers a heartwarming display on how songwriting can soothe the wounds of the creator and listener.
I particularly like following Mary's journey from discovering songwriting as a means to communicate about her own traumas to the honorable service of songwriting with veterans to help them give a voice to their own story. Through recalling her troubled past as an adopted child and her struggles with substance abuse, without oversweetening but far from minimizing, Mary describes her creation of songs and lyrics as a therapeutic force in her life .
“Witnessing other people’s lives through stories is a kind of medicine, and the magic is getting the story emotionally honest.” - Mary Gauthier
This has been a uniquely meaningful book for me to read. It does not exactly lay out the nuts and bolts of how to write a song. In other words, this book is not for songwriting techniques, chord progressions, melodic notation, verse/chorus formats and such…which is fine, there's plenty of other books for that and Saved By A Song's honest approach is what makes this personal story of songwriting so valuable. In the book, she is basing her songwriting on the emotional landscape of expression, the motivation there is more inspiring then reliant on rigid templates, it’s the source to say what needs to be said through song. Mary reminds us that her collegue Ralph Murphy said “It’s not your job to sing the listeners your diary. Your job is to sing to the listeners theirs.”
The book is for songwriters and artists of all kinds, therapists and even mental health professionals. Mary's book helps one understand that one can be saved by a song but also that the world can be changed by a song. Saved By a Song is a heartwarming story, an easily comprehensible philosophy on why songwriting is important, and a solid source of inspiration.
“artists are like firemen; when the rest of the world is running away from the explosion, they run to it and report back...
The ask is this: no matter how many songs you’ve written - each time, the struggle is to get back to that singular place where it is just you and the fire alone in the room.”
- Mary Gauthier
We are a world of sound, vibrationally communicating with each other and our surrounding environment. The power of words is held in their definition as well as in their delivery. The way we produce our words and the tone that they are delivered with directly affects our communication with one another.
My fascination with this began with the foundational aspects of music; melody, meter, the sound of emotion, and essentially, tonal vibrations. With this sense as a guide for communication and listening, one can develop an awareness of how spoken words carry more meaning than just their definition.
Exploring the field of how vibrations communicate emotions, one can develop a sense of how words affect a conversation and how they act in resonance or dissonance within a single person or in a relationship. This experience is like being a piece of an orchestral movement, with your unique instrument, harmonizing with the thematic melody.
Resonance / Dissonance
How do our emotions affect how we deliver our words? How do the vibrations of our voice affect our listener’s nerves? We listen to voices and words simultaneously, and consciously as well as somatically and subconsciously. Dissonance happens when the tone of voice clashes with your emotion, two notes that don’t blend well, don’t sound good together. We can notice dissonance, sometimes from passive aggression, between the different ways that someone else communicates, and we are left with a sometimes confusing, conflicted, and perhaps traumatized feeling. While on the other hand, we notice resonance in a tone of voice and are often left with a peaceful, uplifting feeling.
Good Vibes / Conversation as Song
Our tone of voice can be in alignment with somatic experiences like fears and turn-ons.
Certain tones of voice can vibrationally resonate with you, like how vibrations resonate in the body of a guitar. In these situations you might find yourself thinking that a certain feeling “resonates with me”. When you are on the same page as the person you are talking with, you are attuned and the tones of your voices can resonate with each other and you can be in harmony like two separate tones that harmonize together in a song. This is an important skill to develop your tone of voice to play your distinct role in the orchestral movement. This can be a conversation, a business meeting, customer service and other situations where you want to instill a certain feeling which you can tailor to the unique recipient in the performer / audience relationship.
Each conversation brings its own topic to light through tone of voice, the underlying sentiment or frustrations that are being communicated with dynamic vibrational delivery. The sounds/vibrations of emotion in conjunction with the way in which words are formed themselves determine vibrational receiving of the message. When we talk to a baby or a cute puppy we automatically manipulate our voices to be higher pitched, to sound sweet and gentler.
Not only do we choose words to say to one another but we express how we feel through our tone of voice. Often unaware of the way we might sound to the person we are talking to until it’s too late, because we may think that we are effectively masking our inner feelings, and furthermore, we may have even been masking them from ourselves.
The tone of voice can be a distraction from content. What if we made a conscious effort to deliver our words with a tone of voice that enhanced the conversation instead of sweeping it up in a wave of emotion? Is this conscious verbal economy sustainable? What if we ask ourselves what we want to be communicating through the tone of our voices alongside the actual words?
Licensed Therapist Stephanie Mae Neilson describes tone as communication in and of itself; Tone of voice is its own conversation, the felt conversation, the known conversation that doesn’t make it into the words. This conversation is always happening within, alongside, in tandem with, the words and meanings level of the dialogue. This is the conversation of the animal self, the body, of the nonverbal, preverbal realm. The animal body has vibrational exchange with the animal body of someone else. This content and energy of the exchange can be accepted no matter whether “good” or “bad” , as long as there is no dissonance between content, energy. Words can be chosen intentionally in order to direct vibration through the correct instrument, like sending air through a pipe organ.
Words shape sound. Choosing words intentionally to shape tone is a quality of an instrument. It gives the speaker a choice in how sound is channeled, alleviating some of the pressure from the body to project, accent or blow through sound to create vibrations. Some words carry their own tone, an added complexity to intentional vocalizations. Words can sound condescending, patronizing, sarcastic, manipulative and confusing. The tone of the words can create cognitive dissonance if they are used in a way that is misaligned with the meaning of the word or used as part of an act. Explosive words, harsh words and expletives blast their way through a conversation and can be damaging while soft and sweet toned words imply a certain tenderness. Certain words are built for delivering a message regardless of how you say them because they have an embedded tone.
Love Language / Tone as a Tool
We can use tone as a tool. We have choices in speech and listening. Are you, or is the other, communicating from a place of safety and security in the physical body? The sound of security in a voice and strength in a voice can help someone who is struggling with fear or paranoia. Forced shifts in one’s tone of voice can lead to confidence and ability to be seen or get needs met. What would high versus low pitch or fast versus slow ask for from the listener?
Beneficial Tonalities . How can vibrations aid in a challenging conversation? We can be mindful of how we use our voice to shift the energy of one another or match the energy of one another. How do you respond to speaking with someone who is highly anxious and speaks with a higher pitched tone versus someone who is grounded and happy versus someone who is depressed speaking with a droning low tone? The awareness of the way we produce our words and with what tone they are delivered with has the potential to benefit our well being, our relationships and our businesses.
Join the Conversation
What experience have you had that has been influenced significantly by tone of voice?