KOCHI: Finnish-English musician and artist Hanna Tuulikki has shared the nuances of her vocal practice at an experimental workshop series held here over the weekend, working with voices and human bodies - both trained and otherwise - to build whole worlds out of sound.
Tuulikki is a participating artist at the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale-2016.
At the two-day workshop titled ‘Traditional Ballad and Experimental Vocal Ensemble, Tuulikki also explored the expressions and compositions in the Celtic, Gaelic and English vocal traditions.
The workshop was organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, in association with the British Council and Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, at Passage Malabar at Fort Kochi from March 25 to 26. The participants learned ballads, collective singing, ensemble practice and vocalisation exercises.
“I am interested in working with ‘voice’ both as a material and an instrument. Singing is a means to extend the voice/imagination from the body. After sampling the Carnatic vocal tradition and incorporating it into my performance and the installation here, I wanted to share certain aspects of my practice as an artist/performer and our traditions back home,” said Tuulikki.
For ‘Sourcemouth: Liquidbody,’ her artwork at the Biennale, Tuulikki learned ‘nadi varnana’ (river description) from Koodiyattam practitioner Kapila Venu. The three-screen installation features a visual score and an interlinked suite of films incorporating choreography, vocal composition and costume.
“I was very fortunate to work under the guidance of Kapila Venu last year, and to attend a ‘deep listening’ workshop with legendary sound artist-composer Pauline Oliveros. Her work and idea of deep listening as meditation influenced my practice,” she said.
While the ballad session introduced participants to songs from England, Ireland and Scotland - sung either by or about women - and described the experience of being a woman and about women’s sexuality, the exploratory workshop delved into Tuulikki’s vocal practice.
“In the experimental workshop, I shared certain exercises to imagine how voice comes from the body and from the breath as the source; and worked with simple group exercises to explore how people can sing collectively,” she said.The workshop considered music as a literal form of meditation. Tuulikki asked participants to close their eyes, contemplate and reproduce the sounds they heard in the morning. To illustrate ‘singing in relation to one’s surroundings,’ she sang a note that resembled ‘gamaka’ (ornamentation) in Carnatic music.