The 5 Levels of Wild Voice, Solid Roots

Level 1

Help me count to 4! I don’t know the beats of the bar; I couldn’t make a phrase starting on the 3rd beat. I don’t know my do re mi. I can’t keep a steady beat; I speed up, or loose my place, can’t track where I am rhythmically. I can’t click steadily on, for example, the 2 and 4 and sing freely and keep my beat. I can’t find my place in harmonies, I struggle to harmonise as an improviser. Maybe I can play chords on an instrument, but I can’t improvise over the top vocally.

I am a singer. You might be a performer or a song group leader or a singer songwriter, or your natural musicality might have come out around a campfire jam. That’s in you. It’s clear. But it’s these aspects of musicianship; no one has ever helped you put them in place, and you want to get started. You’re humble to the realities of where you need to begin, which is pretty much at the beginning. This isn’t helping you with your talent – you have talent, and now we’re going to skill up your talent.

An aspect of levels 1 and 2 is healing learning trauma, establishing healthy learning, learning how to learn.

Level 2

OK, I’ve kind of got my 1234. Now let’s do 3/4, and 6/8, and syncopation! I’m ready to begin that. I’ve kind of got my do re mi, but hey, help me get solid on the pentatonic and some of the more interesting intervals around the major and the minor scales. I can do pretty basic harmony, like a 3rd harmony. Now let me begin to get more comfortable and fluent with a range of harmonic possibilities.

My voice… I still want my voice to be able to really keep up with my musical imagination… reaching a wider range of intervals more easily, with more vocal fitness, agility, precision and ease – and maintaining my quality of tone as my voice jumps in an increasingly agile way around melody.

Level 3

Ok, let me get all the intervals in the major and the minor – I want to go between all of them and know what they are; I’m ready for chromatic, let me get started with the 12 note scale. I’m ready to begin to digest augmented and diminished intervals. I’m ready to learn to sing Opportunity by Bobby McFerrin, I’m ready to find my whole way through Bach’s prelude in C. I’m ready to learn to really know my I II III IV V VI chords when I hear them, and be able to make interesting chord progressions. I’m ready to play with yummy crunchy chords like a G7b9. Don’t expect me to know it when I hear it, but I’m ready to play… OK I’m good with rhythm and I can keep a steady groove. I’ve got this beats of the bar thing, I’ve got syncopation; now let me get into semi-quaver patterns, polyrhythm and oddmeter.

Harmonically, I still need to fully get my triads of the major and minor scales; so let me settle into those. And let me sophisticate my use of harmony and begin to work on inversions; navigating inversions with my ear and my voice. I’m still wrapping my head around diatonic harmony in the major and minor.

Level 4

I’m a music graduate or equivalent. Let me do a quick refresh of some of the more challenging diatonic intervals; I’m ready to go right into augmented and diminished intervals; the 12 note chromatic scale; get my chromatic pitching bang on and faster and faster; I’m ready to transcribe Wes Montgomery solos by ear; I want to sing in Indian Ragas and modes.

I’m good on the somatic awareness of my voice and I’m ready to keep the quality of my tone as I get sophisticated and incresingly fast with my friggin awesome vocal agility.

On harmony, I need a brief refresher on diatonic harmony in the context of collaborative improvisation, and now I’m ready for chord elaboration and inversions. And increasingly crunchy sophisticated beautiful vocal harmony in both a conscious and an intuitive way. F yeah.

I’m ready to start with 16th note patterns, polyrhythm, and odometer,

I’m all about playing with semi-quaver patterns, polyrhythm and oddmeter. I’m ready, and I can work at a good pace.

Level 5

Heads up. I would be a student of level 5. If 10ish qualified singers apply to study this course I will hire teachers like David and Rhiannon and others to come to the UK and teach us.

Ok. Give me a refresher of level 3; and then I want to work with 16th note, oddmeter and polyrhythmic patterns with emphasis on accent subtlety, nuance, speed, interlocking, holding my pattern against other people’s contrasting patterns, listening, understanding what’s happening, relaxing within complexity, and inhabiting the music at a good pace; staying somatically calm while the music is getting complex and fast.

Agility; staying deeply in my body as I’m doing increasingly complex things. I’m transcribing one jazz solo a month by ear and I’m getting my voice around it, and music from other cultures.

Harmony: in a way, I’m taking what’s in level 4 and I’m applying it to emergent improvisation and studies over and over and over again. I’m ready to begin to study non-diatonic harmony and modulation as a vocal improviser, and to keep on applying crunchy chords as an intuitive improviser and as a composer.

Oh my dear lord that would be amazing.