By D. Thomas
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” [JOHN 1: 1-2, 14a.]
In singing, the passaggio is the switch from, or the range of notes where a singer must switch from “chest voice” to “head voice.” Chest voice is one’s lower register, created by the thicker vocal folds, which is also the one we normally speak in, and head voice is produced by thinner cords, creating higher notes. The singing voice is made to vibrate at the frequencies wanted by the song by activating parts of the vocal cords and larynx — where instruments have short strings or pipes to make high tones and long strings or large bodies to play low notes as they vibrate at their faster or slower frequencies, the human voice does not have so many separate strings; the manipulation of the mechanism is really more akin to working the abs: we target “upper” and “lower” abs to define the long, sternum-to-pubic-bone rectus abdominis muscle; pulling the ribs toward the hips activates the upper parts of the fibers first, and pulling your hips toward your ribs activates the lower part of the muscle first, but the whole muscle contracts. In our throats, two flaps or folds of tissue come together and separate along the larynx, moved by the breath and ligaments, and the rates of vibration determine the notes sung or spoken..
Vocal register, separate from tone, involves force of air and generation of energy, so that using chest or head voice can be like singing a G or B-flat 4 with brass or string; the singer must determine and create the best timbre for the phrase or movement.
How one switches from “chest” to “head” is impossible for me to explain– you just do, and then feel and analyze what you did, and, if you want to sing well, you practice it, do exercises to make the transition smooth , because it can be problematic– the voice can catch, break, skip, lose tones with poor coordination. You can practice extending the range of each register, singing lower notes in head voice, higher notes in chest, singing scales and practicing intervals from one note to another so that you can choose when to make the change, if you still must, least noticeably, and maybe at a phrase break, or with the next inhale.
One’s exhale begins the vibration which goes out the mouth into the world, pressure waves disturb particles in the air — compressions and rarefactions, traveling to God’s ears and to listeners’– which is where pitch comes in, and why correct pitch matters. Each note in a phrase, from every voice and each instrument, sends out waves of individual amplitudes and frequencies, and they will sound harmonious together, or not. The waves displacing particles which displace near particles must create tones which together create music– and each single note, being resonant, has root tones and overtones and undertones– a note sung has displaces particles which move forward and back, bouncing back, bouncing again forward, and each segment of the area between vibrates with pitch– roughly: one note passes through all its related tones, the thirds and fourths, fifths and octaves; the choir and orchestra must hope everyone is tuned the same and hits the centers of their notes for all the excitations and disturbances to sound just right.
There is not usually auto-tuning at a live concert; there is practice.
The air waves and broad bands are full of movies and jingles, advertisements, sales; retailers hope to get “out of the red” on “Black” Friday; everyone in America is urged to scurry to buy and to put up and plug in all the trimmings and trappings of the gift-giving “Christmas” Season.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” [ISAIAH 9:6].
To Christian churches, this is the first week of Advent, of-r preparation for the coming of Christ Jesus. Not only the birthday party Baby Jesus, but the Second Coming, when evil shall be destroyed and harmony restored to all creation.
The Christian faith is that Christ as Jesus was born, lived and died among us, rose from the dead, and will return in His glory. “The trees in the woods will shout for joy when the LORD comes to rule the earth,” (says 1 CHRONICLES 16:33). Who of us is prepared for the destruction of all that is evil, in our own deepest, darkest, secret places, really? In self-examination, or calling upon God to search us, we learn what Fear of the Lord is, and that we each need grace. “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ,” [JOHN 1: 17b ].
“May my cry come before You, O LORD; give me understanding according to Your Word,” [PSALM 119: 169.]
Back at the time of Jesus’ nativity (that “First Noel”), on earth, only Mary and Elizabeth and Joseph were preparing for him. Israel awaited its Messiah, but the records indicate that it was not prepared for His arrival among them. Despite the Prophets; there had been no (known, canonically-included) Word from the LORD in Judea for four hundred years– until the message to the priest Zechariah about his soon-to-be-conceived son, to be named John, who would be the great prophet coming before the LORD. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were both old, and she had been barren, so Zechariah doubted and questioned the Angel– even though he should have been familiar with old Abraham and old Sarah, and their promised son Isaac– so the Angel struck him mute until John’s birth and christening.
When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and the girl went to spend three months with her older relative– which is one of my favorite parts of the story, showing the compassion of this God of Miracles, at least as recorded by Luke in his first chapter.
Blessed Jesus developed in Mary’s womb, and was duly born after nine months, in the stable in Bethlehem, and the hosts of angels sang Gloria in excelsis Deo and sent the shepherds, who “spread the word concerning what they had been told about this child” and “returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told,” [LUKE 2: 17 and 20].
And so began the earthly life of Jesus, born a baby, growing through toddlerhood and childhood; he went through puberty and grew to his adulthood, traveled his small area (Galilee, Samaria, Judea) preaching and healing, getting tired sometimes, getting hungry and thirsty and needing to pee; after some years he was arrested by disturbed priests and executed for blasphemy.
It is such a simple story, like a children’s story, and because of this, so hard to believe. So hard for us to believe. If there is a “God” at all, a Creating Force or Spirit carrying out a Design or Plan or Direction, why did It or They become a vulnerable human and die in such a brutally ugly way? Could not the Creator of the Universe change things, destroy all evil and uplift the righteous, cure all diseases and unhappinesses, with, say, a snap?
But if God did, who would stand?
The Vagus nerve is a two-part parasympathetic nerve, the longest in the human body, which runs from the brain stem to the colon and from the colon to the brain, through the major organs of digestion and of respiration and of phonation, the breathing, vocalizing, and food-swallowing throat, the heart, the immune system; it carries information from the body to the brain, and instructions down from the brain (and parallels the Kundalini energy through the chakra system of yogic tradition). Acid reflux, dizziness, hoarseness, gagging and difficulty swallowing, bloating and stomach pains are common signs of Vagus nerve problems–of something wrong somewhere. Our stressors, our habits, our lives, affect our bodies, and we know that conditions of our bodies affect our daily lives.
This body is what Jesus was born to.
Jesus was born, the Word Made Flesh, I believe, God With Us, Immanuel. His passage through human infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adult life in a society gave Divinity information about being human which could be gotten no other way than first-hand; God which has sent humanity His word through prophets, poets and seers, has, I believe, taken our weak, limited, confused, mortal experience to God, and because of this we can be freed from sin, freed from our prisons of fear, hatred, addiction, obsession, jealousy, fantasy, greed– and eternal death. On our own this is almost impossible, but Spirit is with us, to lead and guide us along our paths of right action.
Jesus himself, in his first lesson in a local synagogue after his baptism by Elizabeth and Zechariah’s John explained, reading a scroll of Isaiah 40:
“‘The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.’
“Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,'” [LUKE 4:18-21].
What happened next was that the people were “furious” and drove him out of town (4:28-30).
People often do not want to be free of their prisons or their blinders, their habits or addictions, their ways, their excuses and cycles. Change is uncomfortable– disturbing; many are unhappy, and want things to change– but we tend to want everything around us, the others to change to make existence more comfortable or “beautiful,” peaceful, or even “spiritual” for us as we are.
Believing and accepting Jesus means that we accept change, however, in our unconscious selves, in our objectives; in our lives. The promise is of Salvation, of forgiveness of and freedom from sin and everlasting death, and of (not ongoing human, but) eternal life.
Sin is being off–and there are not really levels or valuations of sin; what societies tend to consider worse or lesser sin shifts over time, with circumstance, as do musical and clothing styles and political situations, but most of the world agrees that to sin is to do a kind of wrong. A wrong implies a right; righteousness is performing right action, which is following God’s law or the Tao, or laws of Dharma. Consider: each of us is like a string with its proper tone, or frequency of vibration, struck at birth, and sounding; each of us has an own or “inner” path or Way that is most in harmony with Nature or Being which, to the God-believing, is that which is God-willed; when one is out of tune, one is out of that best, clearest flow of divine force– how far into the depths and wildernesses, pits and dens of iniquity we wander is up to us, and we deal with the consequences– this is human life– and our individual human lives bump– contact– disturb other human lives, and others touch ours, and displace or disturb us.
Grace is the forgiveness and return from our wanderings and fallings out of tune in our ignorances, iniquities, transgressions, debts, and trespasses against neighbor, enemy, stranger, and family member. Every sin is against God.
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” [MATT. 25:40.]
Passaggio is a “passage”, on a ship from one land mass to another, or on a staircase from one level to another, or a doorway from one space to another, or a sheepgate from one pasture to another; it is also a transition or movement through life, a going through of an experience, suffering a situation, and the “passing” from this world to the next.
The words of the “Pie Jesu,” the fourth movement of Faure’s Requiem, are:
Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem, sempiternam requiem.
(“Blessed Lord Jesus, grant them rest; grant them everlasting rest.”)
Everlasting. In a life-span and beyond.
Passaggio may be the passing from this world to the next– and from that other world to this, for Lord Jesus Christ.
Researching sound waves– pressure agitating particles which displace particles which displace particles on and on expanding outward– has made a speaking of creation into existence more imaginable, and “the Word” more resonant. Perhaps, working the other direction, prayer, mouthed, breathed, spoken, wept, or sung prayer, may influence existence toward God, as the long nerve talks to the brain..
A Christ-believing faith is that, when the Blessed Lord Jesus returns in glory, earth will change. The heavens and earth will be shaken, scriptures say, the old gone, a new heaven and new earth, and new people, new life, will be in its place, God with what is God’s, and what is God’s with God. In tune.
“And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it,” [ISAIAH 40:5].
I don’t know, and again I can’t prove anything of God except in my own experience of leaping in faith and “being caught,” which is anecdotally but not scientifically demonstrable. But many scientific theories can’t really be demonstrated, either–cosmic bounces and quantum strings and so forth.
Science and experience do tell us that a simple way to calm an overactive, or stimulate an underactive, Vagus nerve is to hum.
Hum or sing.
Advent hymns and Christmas carols might work.