significance of the autonomic is that it stops the individual controlling the sounds he makes so they rather release what is there, let out 'their voice' . You cannot sing what you are not.
Breath tells a story from a world apart which we can all visit and whose language is feeling. This is why there are so many words in every culture for different sorts of breathing, not the least of which is spirit. In a literal sense, the mean spirited person is someone who withholds their breath. Even though breathing is something that happens all the time and is taken for granted, the witness of many throughout recorded history tells us that when breath is studied and pursued for its own sake, it can take us on a journey into the very heart of life and meaning. Singing demonstrates its power by joining us together somewhere beyond knowing using feelings as the glue. The singer moves the audience emotionally as the breath moves the physical body.
What singing is can never be 'known' as its role is to express that which cannot be understood but rather felt. It arouses rather than explains and this is the point. In order to sing we must agree not to know, but rather to trust, let go and listen to our body. It teaches us. Learning to sing is therefore about becoming aware of your body working in a particular way, as though we have two separate beings inside us. The fact that the systems used are beyond volitional control presents the singer with a unique set of learning issues, but ones that are crucial to the outcome. Only if the singer can let go of the process can the feelings required to communicate be released. If the singer tries too hard, everything is blocked. It is about riding a wave of the breath, similar to surfing. You do not control the wave when you surf, but enjoy the ride. Controlling the wave is not an option, and staying on is most likely to be achieved when you are most relaxed. Singing is the same. If you follow the wave it will take you to places you never imagined could exist. The unknown revealed. The principal components of singing are very simple. Breath, muscle, energy, intention and imagination. It is about forming a relationship with something that has its own rules. If you can find its world, it will show you things you never knew. Not resisting, co-operation and respect are the keys. The one thing it will never do is respond to force. Abuse the voice and it will disappear.
The big question is, why can so few do it well. The answer is 'honesty'. Professional singers tend to be people for whom, initially at least, all the ingredients combine effortlessly and without thought. They therefore just get on with it, and are not personally too worried about what is happening. Unfortunately this state rarely last a lifetime and at some point they will be confronted by having to learn what is happening, usually because of a crisis that causes the voice to disappear. For the rest, learning can be a painful process of discovering feelings, for the voice cannot lie. If you can only have a free voice by letting go of your body so the autonomic systems can work freely then you cannot make a sound you do not possess. You simply have to accept what is there. The good news is that when you do get it right, it is a wonderful feeling, which is why we do it. Not for the sound, but for the feeling of well being, of wholeness, of rightness.
Singing articulates a world of feelings which human beings don't always feel comfortable with or tell the truth about. It therefore serves a very important purpose in giving voice to that which is frequently hidden. By placing those feelings in the performing arena, those feelings are externalised, lived out in the context of the group and therefore made safer for the individuals involved. Singers pay a price for this however. They must be highly sensitive to feelings that are not always easy to live with and able to express them honestly. The singer lets themselves be sung by the voice so that