Exploring the Vocal Instrument (Joan La Barbara)

Presented by: Joan La Barbara

Joan La Barbara, a pioneer in the field of “extended vocal techniques,” offers this special workshop for actors on using the voice as an instrument and exploring its myriad possibilities. This workshop will enable you to discover your own voice, how to use it, and enjoy doing so. Everyone can sing, but many are inhibited, shy, have been told they can’t sing, and so forth. These explorations will not only allow you to discover your singing abilities, but all uses of the voice — applicable to creating character voices, experimental sounds, and in support of whatever vocalizing any given performance may demand, whether on stage or in the sound studio.

We begin with a “silent warm-up,” using relaxation exercises to prepare the body for singing and vocalizing. These exercises can be used anywhere, and are excellent when waiting for an audition, before a performance, etc. Following the silent warm-up we explore resonance areas in the head, discovering different sounds that you can make by placing or focusing the voice in a particular space (for instance: center of the mouth, upper nasal area, forehead, behind the cheek bones, etc). These can be useful in creating character voices. We will do a lot of humming because it is nearly impossible to do any damage to the voice while humming, and is a very good way to get started. We will explore the flexibility of the voice and how to feel comfortable improvising in almost any situation.

Joan La Barbara is known as a specialist in “contemporary classical vocal music,” having worked over the years with giants of the avant-garde such as John Cage, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Robert Ashley. She is a pioneer in extended vocal techniques, and offers concert programs titled “Voice is the Original Instrument.” She has done Voice Over work for films, such as creating the “Alien Newborn” voice in ALIEN RESURRECTION, and replacing Emmanuelle Béart’s “angel” voice in 99% of the film DATE WITH AN ANGEL. She has also composed film scores, most recently co-composing cues with Jóhann Jóhannsson for ARRIVAL…read more

Joan offers this workshop to pass the joy of this work and sense of discovery on to others.