Photo: Clara Silber, Malérargues 2007
Every year Paul sings his Malérargues summer concert
How I come to be singing this concert
When I was 13 or 14 and my voice was breaking, I discovered that I could yodel. I enjoyed it and could be heard happily yodelling most of the day. Looking back, I now find that was an astute move on my part and that yodelling was an efficient way of working with my vocal needs. I was letting my voice co-operate with my body unimpeded.
I was of the Frank Sinatra epoch and loved many of his songs. However his films that I loved the most were “Man with the golden arm”, “From here to eternity” and “The Manchurian candidate”, all films in which he did not sing! I appreciated his acting and later I became an actor myself. I started as a child actor and then went on to Repertory companies in the provinces of England. In my early twenties, I began getting work in the West End of London’s theatre land as a chorister in musicals like “Oliver!” and “Pickwick Papers”. For these productions, I had to be able to ‘sing’ and pass auditions so I went to a fine old singing teacher called Alfred Kuhn. He helped me greatly but I still did not think of myself as a singer, only as an actor. In an early demonstration film of Roy’s work “The Theatre of being” one can hear me saying “I’m an actor” in exactly the high-pitched, mono-tonal voice that I complained of when I first met Roy.
The truth is that in order to make a song your own, you must first make your voice your own. This, as anyone who has some knowledge of the voice knows, is not easily done. Even after a lifetime of work, there is no guarantee that you can ever come to own your voice. That is to say, come to accept your own voice as it is, not with your brain, but with your heart. I would say that a certain amount of ‘good karma’ is also needed! I was very lucky. After forty years of working as a Roy Hart voice teacher, I found, quite unasked for, that I could sing. It was nothing that I ever intended to happen. Acting, yes. And now, singing, yes. During the course of all those years, The number of lessons I gave in which I had to work with the pupil I therefore to identify with him to such an extent that I was singing internally any way, this did work my voice in a very profound way, which now stands me in very good stead.
I have always loved these songs that I can now sing, ever since my teenage time when love was, in deed, a very basic drive in me; I love them basically because they symbolise both love and frustrated love. They are passionate stories, often with subtle innuendoes that appeal to me as an actor.
As a teacher I have often said “there is no difference between the spoken voice and the sung voice”. Now I have to put it into practice for myself! In reality these songs are stories that need to be told by a story teller of love stories – me.
As a teenager the idea of these songs pleased me greatly, but you cannot sing songs on the basis of an idea, which is why I had such a high inexpressive voice as a young man. You have to feel a song if you are going to sing it. If you can’t feel it then it’s a waste of time trying to sing it.
A major part of the movement into my voice has been the sustained love of my life, Clara, my wife. This constant expression of love on a daily basis over the last thirty years has enabled me to put my heart into my mouth and sing it out to you as I do now.
Paul Silber, Malérargues 2006
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