I'm from Texas, live in New York, and am currently wintering in Louisiana. I haven't the slightest clue what Boxing Day is. I never asked my Canadian former roommate and my English violinist-friend says it has to do with helping the less fortunate and "boxing" up charitable donations the day after Christmas. I choose to picture a voluntary, boozy, postprandial family slugfest celebrating making it through Christmas without incident. I'm pretty sure we're both wrong. Anyways, happy bank holiday to all my friends in the Commonwealth! (And happy first day of Kwanzaa, too!)
I just want to get this thought out of the way: I am not a writer. (I feel so much better now!) Therefore, gentle reader, go easy and know how intimidated I am at this moment. I'm in no way issuing an apology for what may spew forth, but I think context is important. Truthfully, I'm not foreign to this community of writers, but my only experience is with dead ones. Lyricists and librettists of decades and centuries past. My image of writers usually includes a quill pen and candlelight. Are there any last holdouts in today's writing community? Old school blotters and ink-stained fingers?
More than the drama and costumes and wigs and make-up, what's interesting to me about being a singer of opera is, regardless of technological aides (digital recording devices offering immediate aural and visual feedback, etc), voices are trained today in essentially the same manner as voices a century or two ago. The finer points could be argued, no doubt, but in broad terms, there aren't too many ways for a human voice to be heard over an orchestra without amplification. The musculature hasn't changed, we haven't seen laryngeal evolution of any kind. We are still dependent on our body's acoustical resonant amplifiers and a very complex coordination of neurons and muscles to compete sucessfully with strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. I think it's pretty damn cool actually. Sometimes it's technique that keeps me coming back for more and not the stage theatrics.
But back to words. I like them. A lot. I have only a pedestrian mastery of this crazy language so I am an excellent and eager audience for those of you who confidently sling words about with color and abandon. Fundamentally, though, I just like the way words feel inside my mouth. Don't you? I often like words more for their sounds than their meanings. Malfeasance (the "l" to "f" transition is satisfying). Constancy (love the meaning, but how how nice to close to the "n" twice before sending the last syllable off into the ether??). With all the fricatives and sub-glottal stopped plosives and vowels moving all around, how could you not love language??? And if you think all vowels and sounds just sit arbitrarily inside your mouth, you're wrong. Check out this little visual aid from The Dialect Coach.
It's impossible to look at without trying to intone the vowels to feel how they move around your mouth... you'll feel and sound really cool, I promise!
I have just let my singer word nerd freak flag fly. I'm going to step away and go do something exponentially cooler to tip the scales back to neutral. Since it is the day after Christmas, and this is a poetry blog, I'll leave you with a carol I have sung at various Midnight Masses over the last 10 years. This audio file was recorded live at Christ Church Oyster Bay, Christmas Eve 2008.
Some Children See Him (1951)
Music by Alfred Burt
Poem by Wihla Hutson