This is the original text from which I drew for the talk given at the Seminar on "Alfred Wolfsohn and Charlotte Salomon – the unfolding story" : N.P.
The C. G. Jung Connection
by Noah Pikes
In this short talk I suggest that in the writings of the Swiss psychiatrist, influential thinker, and founder of analytical psychology, C.G. Jung (CGJ), Alfred Wolfsohn (AW) found some of the main ideas which enabled him to develop his vision of the true potential of the human voice, and of enabling others to experience not only their vocal potential, but as we saw so eloquently this morning, their life-affirming creative potential. Additionally, his student Roy Hart (RH), made an artistic reality of AWs vision of "the unchained voice". I also sketch how for RH and others of his students, including myself, Jung's ideas have continued to underpin important parts of the teaching practices.
However the early relationship between CGJ and AW was not a simple one – as these pictures from Charlotte Salomon suggest. Here, four of Salomon's pictures of Daberlohn were shown containing the following ongoing monologue:
" We see all those psychoanalysts around the conference table, deliberating the deficiencies of the contemporary human soul, * exploring the cultures of the remotest peoples to rediscover primeval man untouched by European culture. In many cases I would call that an attempt to establish a new European culture, that of psychoanalysis: instead of taking a burden off the tormented soul, adding a greater burden to it.
No, gentlemen, the problem of psychoanalysis cannot be recognised on a scientific basis. Imitating other peoples or oneself can only result in a culture of apes and parrots. It would be better to spend one's money on food than give it to the doctors. What the world lacks is not psychoanalysts but educators."
Why then did he read Jung?
(In what follows all quotes from AW's writing are from his '38-39 as yet unpublished manuscript "Orpheus, or the Way to a Mask", unless otherwise stated) By the mid 30s he had begun to explore his ideas about singing, and through his contact and exchanges with Paula Lindberg around 1936 or 37 he was putting them into practice with some of her students. These were people who sang but had difficulties with it. Given AWs own experiences in and following WWI he knew there was more to singing than met the ear. In fact he says
"When I speak of singing I do not see it as an artistic exercise, but as a possibility and a means of recognizing oneself, and of transforming this recognition into conscious life.."
I believe that in searching a way out of the rigid gender and range limits of conventional singing, and in seeking meaning behind the sounds of human suffering he needed ideas capable of making sense of the immense potential world of sound his ears were exploring and his vision of an unchained voice that he called "the voice of the future". W wrote
"Although for certain reasons I felt a horror of anything connected with psychology, I forced myself to read about its various systems. The more I read, the more I realised that much of the experience which I had gained from my own work ran parallel to fundamental principles of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy."
"I worked with voices however hopeless, because it gave me the chance to find out. I recognised
much later that it was often exactly these apparently hopeless cases, i.e. singers who had studied for many years and come to grief over it, who allowed me to find the answers to my questions – (about why he not developed as a singer, although he seemed to have a promising voice).
I discovered that in each case it was not only their voice which was suffering but their soul. Experience taught me that no progress could be achieved if I did not succeed in helping to correct the psychic damage, to restore their faith in themselves and to transfer my own belief onto them."
Wolfsohn found himself in a complex role, as he writes of himself as a singing teacher and as a therapist, (or what might now be called a life coach), facing questions of faith and belief. Wolfsohn tells us more about the links between voice and soul as well as about his role as a voice-psychologist:
"As the basis of singing is the same as that of psychic life, so their development proceeds accordingly in the same direction; the difference being that the growth of the voice is more distinctly perceptible than the growth of the soul. The psychologist can gauge the progress at hand through the development of the patient's dreams; the voice-psychologist likewise can follow his pupil's dreams with his inner eye, but even more so he can hear with his inner ear all the many stages of the grounding of the voice."
As AW continues in this passage his language becomes even more informed by Analytical Psychology.
How did he arrive at Js work?
According to Marita Günther he seems to have been introduced to Jung by a Frau Böhm, who had worked with Jung, had had some classical singing training as part of her bourgeois Jewish education, and became a pupil of W. She may well have been one of Paula Lindberg's pupils.
"This pupil had discovered that the deep, inner place in which she found her voice during a lesson with Wolfsohn was also the source of images she had experienced during a Jungian active imagination. session. She wrote, "As time went on, I realised more and more that the road taken in the development of my voice was similar to that taken in following the psychology of Jung." *1
Marita met Frau Böhm in 1960 in Berlin when she took her a copy of the recording of "Vox Humana" (see below). "It was then that I realised that the ideas about extending the vocal range had really only emerged in London. She had never heard a woman singing in the male range and vice versa."
From their own personal experiences AW and CGJ both shared a concern with the experience of loss of soul. I sense that something in the depth of CGJ's psychology, with its recognition of the universal presence of a God-image in human beings, his use of the word "soul", and the central place his psychology gave to pairs of opposites – led him to CGJ rather than Freud, the founder of Depth Psychology, or others, like Jung, who had studied with Freud. Jung offered a certain scientific grounding, which paradoxically is probably where part of the disdain Daberlohn expresses comes from.
Wolfsohn felt that his voice work offered psychotherapy a more dynamic and comprehensive way of diagnosis than some of its existing techniques, which up until then were operating only in the visual and verbal realms. AW's idea of the development of the voice, which came to be referred to as "the singing process", paralleled that of Jung's individuation process, the supporting of which is a principle aim of psychoanalysis. This key Jungian concept means "a person's becoming himself, whole, indivisible and distinct from other people or collective psychology." It is powerfully echoed in AWs words concerning the path that led to him to his discoveries:
"I felt that I had forfeited my claim to that which I had held to be the purest and highest in me: the aim to realise in myself the concept of a human being and therefore it depended on myself alone to discover the cure for my illness." *2
I believe it was especially Js ideas which enabled W to develop the discoveries that cured him into a unique form of teaching whereby he could bring about healing experiences for others by using the voice in new ways.
Other ideas from J's writings which informed Ws work include the following:
Put in a simple way CGJ's idea of anima and animus mean that for a woman there is a hidden masculine side to the psyche, and for a man there is a hidden feminine. These ideas became central to Wolfsohn's work. He observed that human vocal range was not limited so much by physiological limits as by limits of imagination. My own view is that in order for a man to reach into the hidden upper regions of his voice, and for a woman to reveal her baritone and bass voices there had to be imaginative leaps – leaps that required an artist's detachment and discipline. Bridging the seemingly fixed difference between male and female pitch ranges was fundamental to AW's achievements in the extension of vocal range. In 1956 an LP was released by the now renowned FOLKWAYS RECORDS called "VOX HUMANA – Alfred Wolfsohn's experiments in extension of human vocal range". The LP presented an astonishing variety of individual voices, some of them ranging over more than 6 octaves. *
AW's pupils were encouraged to write down and discuss their dreams Wolfsohn found that changes occurring in the voice were reflected in pupils' dreams and vice versa. Avis Cole, one of AWs pupils in London in the 50s wrote about parallels between the contents of her dreams and what was happening in lessons and how Wolfsohn studied these parallels to inform him where the lessons should lead them:
"From attending to my dreams I discovered that they had a most intimate connection with my lessons. W. used to read my dreams before the lesson started, and I think he always had a pretty good idea what to expect from me each time. Over time it seems that every aspect of my life and
problems threw itself up in some way or another in this dream form. Not that we indulged in a lengthy analysis of all these things, but I learned that my mind was one whole, waking or sleeping, and to see that the same hindrances in the psyche appeared in the voice and vice versa."
Wolfsohn was the first to discern that the classical singing voice, as beautiful as it could be, also had its shadow. Its voices come through the spaces between, behind, around, and beyond the stylised voices of opera or other classical singing. Marita Günther once wrote of it thus: "This was a far cry from singing beautifully. In the beginning it was a squeaking and a squeezing, a screaming and a peeping. And out of this developed a different kind of beauty of the dared expression..."
CGJ's idea of the shadow as "that which a person has no wish to be" and its essential place in psychological life opens the mind to a potential in vocal sounds that were previously considered shocking, alien, or grotesque. It took a re-education of the voice, ears and mind to hear them simply as vocal sound and enter this darker realm intentionally. In itself this has close parallels with Jung's practice of "Active Imagination".
Unlike Jung's visual and verbal representations of his journey into the darkness, Ws approach implied a more dynamic relationship with the shadow. He felt that relationship with the shadow could become a functional and playful one where "art will no longer be regarded from the purely aesthetic standpoint; it will become increasingly clear that art is life."
These also interested AW and he sketched an idea of archetypal figures corresponding to the main registers of the operatic voice, suggesting for example that the prototype behind the bass voice is the archetype of the father, varying from the king to the priest to the drunkard while the alto voice shows with equal clarity that it is based on the archetype of the Manna personality, the Great Mother… and others.
So did they ever meet?
In 1998 I discovered the presence of a correspondence between AW and CGJ in the CGJ Archives ay the Scientific University of Zurich, Switzerland, which together with some lines in a short essay of AW in the RHT archives, suggest that there was a meeting and other aborted attempts to meet. The letters in ZH date from September 1937 to March 1939 and are included as an appendix in the recent new edition of my book "DARK VOICES The Genesis of Roy Hart Theatre" *
Alfred Wolfsohn addresses CGJ in a respectful tone, with a strong need to get his response. AW attended a lecture by CGJ in Berlin in 1937, and briefly spoke with him about his own work. AW then sent Jung a dream he had of Jung that night, and to which AW says Jung replied with an invitation for AW to meet Jung at his hotel – a meeting that did not actually take place because of "several misunderstandings on the part of the management of the hotel in which you were you were staying". This failed meeting seems then to have led to Jung "permitting" AW to write to him, which he subsequently did, and included a copy of his manuscript "Orpheus…".
In a letter in 1939 AW recognises CGJ's ideas and knowledge as a foundation for his work, and writes:
"in support of my request, I submit a letter from Herr Dr. Werner Engel, who has read my manuscript, which interested him greatly, and on this basis has decided to take singing lessons with me. Through this doctor I have had the opportunity to see my assertions confirmed, in the widest sense. This medical doctor, who is fully familiar with your science, came to me without a (singing) voice, and with no musical background. The surprisingly rapid success of my efforts were therefore possible, because the foundation for us both to work on was provided by your knowledge."
The letters end on March 6 1939 with J telling W he is overburdened with work and that "unfortunately it is absolutely impossible for me to do something for you."
Things in Germany were now awful for Jews and AW flees to London where he is soon engaged in the British Army. Later, in the 50s, AW has created his own unique approach to freeing the voice and the imagination. In the vocal field it brings extraordinary achievements :• "the recording of Vox Humana" demonstrating phenomenal ranges of voices • numerous articles in national and international media • For several years " The Guinness Book of Records" name two of his students as owners of the largest vocal ranges for a man and a woman.
Achievements with his practice
Other speakers will have or will be telling of the achievements of Ws methods in the last 15 years of his life. I would like to include the glowing testimony from Dr. Paul Moses, Associate Clinical Professor in charge of the speech and voice section of the Division of Otolaryngology at the Stanford University School of Medicine in San Francisco and author of The Voice of Neurosis wrote to W in 1961:
"[Wolfsohn is] one of the greatest experts on the problems of the human voice in the world. His achievements do not only cover the teaching of singing but go far beyond this: they encompass entirely new areas of expression and communication. Mr. Wolfsohn has been able to prove his theories through practical results of his teaching…"
AW died in 1962 and RH his long time student took over direction of the research on the voice.
As leader of a group of more than 20 students (in 1968), increasing to nearly 50 by 1975, he continued the use of ideas and practices from J's work, although he also drew on more contemporary ideas and practices in a varied and creative manner. Among them the idea of individuation and its process remained a fundamental perspective within which we pupils were educated up until RH's death in 1975. RH often referred to "the singing process" which is an echo of Js "Individuation process" and declared that "it is a biological education of the personality through the voice"
And in the film of the group from 1964 RH speaks of his work with the group as being "a breaking down of human barriers and the creation of happier, warmer society." and that " … it is not performances in which we are primarily interested."
When I first came to RHs studio in 1967 a transition was just beginning as the group had begun exploring the ancient Greek tragedy "The Bacchae" which in 1969 was to become the first public performance by RHs group. When I arrived I was engaged in a desperate psychological struggle to discover who I was, suffering from a loss of soul brought about by drug abuse and a schizophrenic mother. Looking back, I see that the initial basis on which RH accepted me in his group was as a patient, rather than as a pupil or aspiring actor/singer – though this was never spoken of in such a way. It was always my potential for becoming a creative individual that was the reference, and I was judged by whether my ego was collaborating with that process or resisting it. In short, I was being accompanied by RH into my individuation process – known as the singing process, and I was part of that first performance. Roy Hart made a place for a number of people struggling with deep psychological disturbances. I can testify to the effectiveness of Hart's work in reconnecting me with both my body and soul.
RH performed the solo role in "8 Songs for a Mad King" a work written for his voice by Peter Maxwell Davis. This work initiated the new form of performing art now known as "music theatre" and "8 Songs" is its founding work, considered by many as Davis's greatest composition – though actually composed in collaboration with RH. By then RH had developed a phenomenal range of vocal expression covering more than 6 octaves and a huge range of timbres and dynamics such that reviewers were truly astonished:
Roy Hart, the singing actor is an artist who commands all the voices of the human registers . . . added to which he gives an acting performance which stretches from the most tender allusion to the most macabre realism. All this was simply phenomenal, unique, sensational. Yet it lay beyond all ‘sensation’. It was so deeply stamped by immediate experience; it was the art of presentation which at every minute used the means available in a conscious way, and yet never transgressed the borderline that leads to trash. [Heinz Joachim. Die Welt.]
Sung over a compass of some five octaves with astonishing virtuosity by that extraordinary performer, Roy Hart. It is difficult to imagine that the work could have any other protagonist.
Desmonde Shawe-Taylor Sunday Times
In 1970 RH made the following public statement in which he names Abraxas as the god he worships:
I am a South African Jew. But it has been necessary for me to find even Adolf Hitler, a South African Negro, a South African white man, and besides all the good, all the evil of this world in myself . . . Realising the relation between the aggressor and victim is in myself I worship the god of synthesis. That is why I have called my Abraxas Club by his name.
The Gnostic god Abraxas was the subject of CGJ's "Seven Sermons for the Dead" written during WW1. In it Jung tells us that if we strive for the good or the beautiful "we also lay hold of the evil and the ugly." And "to god therefore, always belongs the devil." We become captives of the pairs of opposites "unless we realise that our distinctiveness is not our thinking, but our own being."
RH led his students to the creation of an interdisciplinary performance group with voice as its fundamental discipline. One of the definitions Jung gives for Abraxas is "unreal reality", a definition that well describes the experience and effect of early Roy Hart Theatre performances. The key performance of RHT was called simply "AND".
In 1971 the group created a new kind of performance and called themselves RHT naming the work "AND" in recognition of that which joins the mighty opposites of God and Devil. The performance celebrated many oppositional pairs, in an immediate, physical and vocal way and performed in several European countries over about 2 years.
… a score of people whom one dares not call actors, though actually they practice the art of the stage perfectly. Is this experimental or laboratory theatre? Ritual would seem to be more correct ... Sud-Ouest
The work is admirable in its dedication. It is also a return to the beginnings; making theatre out of personal experience within the group, as doubtless occurred with those mysteries and rites that were at the origin of theatre. Gaceta del Norte
And of course it was under RHs leadership that the group created its base here in France in 1975
Lesson time and importance of being on time
From early on working with an individual for the time of one hour seems to have been the favoured way. To my knowledge this remains true till now, although much work goes on now in group contexts. When I received my first lessons it was made very clear that lateness was to be avoided at all costs and when it did occur one was obliged to consider what were the possible psychic factors that lay behind it. This approach parallels that adopted in the 30s till 60s at least in the psychoanalytic hour. One difference though is that the individual was not referred to as a patient but as a pupil.
The whole voice and Noah Pikes
In the mid 80s Jung's ideas became important to me in a new way. Enrique Pardo, one of the group's members, had begun to research the work of several writers belonging to the school of Archetypal Psychology, created by James Hillman, a former director of the Jung Institute in Zurich. He led a group now loosely referred to as the Post-Jungians. As I read and felt nourished by their work I realised that my knowledge of the work of CGJ himself was superficial, and that as a teacher I needed to study it and find my own interpretations and ground. Life circumstances led to my becoming based in Zurich from 1990. The director of the Jung Institute at that time was Dr. Helmut Barz, who himself had been a theatre director before turning to medicine and psychoanalysis. He showed much interest in Wolfsohn and Hart's work and supported my own researches, including presentations and seminars for analysts and students.
Out of these experiences I came to my own approach to voice work I call the Whole Voice, (Here a chart was projected – now attached in a PDF file) which is fundamentally rooted in Jung's idea of wholeness as being the dynamic state of the synthesis of two conflicting opposites – and of course part of RH's Abraxas. It is an idea that I have found to offer a wonderful way of conceptualising the phenomenon of the human voice in all its richness and variety without imprisoning it.
An important phase in developing my own approach was the exchanges I was able to have with the training psychoanalysts who participated in my seminars over 2 years at the CGJ Institute. I have testimonies from a number of them and the director as to the importance and respect they had for my work.
I want to return for moment to AW. For me now, it is clear that one of AWs greatest achievement was to bring the whole range of human vocal sound into the same space as the piano with all its associations to the world classical music. In brief, to roar and scream, laugh and cry; to express all emotions fully through the voice, BUT to do so on a given note, and no other. That, for me, was a stroke of great genius and I am forever grateful to AW for that. It has been the key to my own experience of "psycho-therapy" (from Greek, literally meaning caring for, and its close relative, curing/healing the soul.) And this activity, as presented to us this morning by Sheila and Clara, was eminently central to AWE's own life and work with others. Not only extension of the voice, and its potential for human expression and singing, but a 24 hour per day dedication to caring for soul. In this AW took CGJ's ideas further and closer to humanity through his unique synthesis of his own experiences, sensibilities and dedication to bridging life and art. So another of his great achievements was to have been a pioneer and unknowing founder of a subsequent explosion of therapies, using forms of artistic expression as their medium – from drama to music, from painting to dance…
Notes from Samatha Edward's sketch/note book
Seminar index page