Monday, 20 March 2017

Conversation with Anjeline de Dios

Following a recent blog post about my research into voice hearing, a number of researchers and voice hearers have contacted me. One of these is Anjeline de Dios, a geographer and maker of music in/from the Philippines. This morning (UK time) we began our first Skype conversation, and what followed was an incredible 2 hours of sharing and developing ideas.

I'll attempt to provide a summary of some of the topics of conversation we covered.

Anjeline provided a brief introduction to the cultural context in the Philippines. With over 80% of the population being Catholic, singing is very popular. People are not scared to sing in public and choirs exist in institutions such as churches and schools, but also at work.

Anjeline's PhD centered around Filipino music practitioners who are entertainers on cruise ships. She spoke about how they are a kind of their own, viewed as unauthentic as they cover existing songs, and do not have a sense of affinity with other musicians.

What are the performers listening to?
What are they listening for?
What songs do they sing for different people?

We then discussed Anjeline's experience of singing and vocal meditation. She set out with the aim of bringing herself to the point of tears, and was trying to find out what she sounded like; embodying the music.

Does singing in a group change the emotional level that one can reach when singing alone?

Group singing and singing for an audience introduces room for self doubt, vanity and self inhibition. There is a threat that one will not sing as they would when they are alone, but group singing and singing for an audience allows for inter-subjectual listening, meaning that the singer is in conversation with others and can find out what other people hear.

We acknowledged the human tendency to take on board the bad things we hear more than the complements we receive, and how this is a survival tactic.

I spoke about my difficulty at focusing on one conversation at once when in a situation with lots of conversations happening, and how I am most able to concentrate on my inner voice when I am walking. Anjeline recognised that I am responsive to external stimuli, and spoke of the modern trend to multi-task.

Our conversation moved onto the inner critic: the internal voice that tries to infiltrate one's thoughts with negativity. You are not good enough, your actions are not good enough, the inner critic attempts to prevent you from doing things and be less confident. We recognise that the inner critic is frustrating and it takes a lot of effort to challenge the thoughts, but that there is some purpose to the inner critic. It drives us to better ourselves.

I introduced my experience of the presence of a creative critic in addition to an inner critic. Whereas the inner critic tends to focus on the person as a whole, the creative critic is critical of what I am creating artistically. It tries to prevent me from continuing pursuing ideas and belittles what I do.

I spoke about my recent experience of contacting my inner child, and the development of an ability to identify with my different selves, accept the different selves and work with the different selves in a way to make my mental health as positive and stable as possible. This has taken years, and is still very much in the process of developing. It is a skill that can be learned and practiced.

We ended with a discussion about the relationship between creative individuals, an inner critic and a creative critic in relation to experience, in particular education.

Is the creative critic a development of the inner critic?
Do creative people turn to creativity as a way of dealing with their inner critics?
Are creative people more able to tune into their inner critics because of their creative education?
What does this mean for education in the creative fields?

I am really excited about continuing these discussions with Anjeline, and collaborating in some form or other.

To find out more about Anjeline's music and research, please visit her website

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