Skip to main content
Ages 13+
Under 13
Woman singing in a field

Sing to Heal Yourself

Believe, Inspire

Human singing is unique. Our sounds allow us to communicate with each other, but also to heal us.

Singing does not appear to obey any biological determination. Singing appears to be the drawings of the voice, the free use of the respiratory chambers and the resonators of the vocal tract, as opposed to the “interested” voice of our physiology for the basic functions of breathing and communication. Singing transcends the immediacy of communication and adds an expressive extra, capable of musical articulation.

Probably the first song articulated by a human being was the lullaby: there is no more irascible or difficult god to appease than a human baby that is tired or has some kind of discomfort. Singing calms a little beast before it has learned language: they are not words that comfort, but rather free sound and melody, the pauses and silences mixed together that serve as a framework.

But music was also capable of inciting war and cruelty: the drums and cornets that accompanied batallions to mark the rhythm of their steps toward destruction; the hymns that commemorate massacres sung by fervent hordes.

Could we say that the songs that commemorate wars and the songs that calm and comfort children at night share a common nature? Probably not: there is social song, of the party and the common identity, and there is song that is capable of being a voice that pitches between different levels of reality, with the capacity of modifying its frontiers.

The song of shamans and medicine men of different human tribes has been recorded and studied as an anthropological document, or simply as an artistic curiosity, without modern science having the tools of the order or sensibility to analyze why traditional songs achieve concrete effects in believers. It is a miraculous faculty, like the gift that any believer of any religion receives when they offer themselves to their god, irrespective of which one.

Song, for the world view of those who use it as ritual therapy, is capable of mobilizing different forms of stagnated energy, or reverting a curse and changing the rhythm of one’s luck. It is perhaps a mnemonic rhythm that takes the brain back to a pre-birth state (all concert halls have the aura of a womb), to the calm before the intrusion of language and names. A song carried on a voice that is quietened at the same time as it surges. Would an opera aria be less captivating than a traditional Mixtec chant? Or does the music that is capable of curing us speak of the place where each of us keeps that which is sacred?

Related Articles