These deeply moving words from American violinist and conductor, Yehudi Menuhin, are the Why, the Essence, and the Vision of everything Vocal Presence aims to bring into this world.
The words in English
The words in German (original text)
Who was Yehudi Menuhin?
Sir Yehudi Menuhin on the Meaning of Singing
Singing is the true mother tongue of all human kind:
for it is the most natural and simple way
in which we are undividedly there and can communicate fully
with all our experiences, our feelings and our hopes.
Singing is firstly the inner dance of the breath, of the soul,
but it can also free our bodies from all stiffness
into dance and can teach us the rhythm of life.
Singing unfolds to the extent in which it grows
out of listening and attentive awareness.
In singing we can refine ourselves so that we respect
our fellow creatures and the time in which we live.
The song of a human being always touches us directly,
leading to growing understanding, participation and comprehension beyond all words.
I believe this is only possible
because human beings’ double nature is revealed in singing:
without question singing belongs to the very nature of humankind,
for there are no cultures where singing does not take place.
In a time when our natural, intellectual and spiritual powers of imagination
seem to become ever more stunted,
so that our entire future is possibly threatened,
we need all possible sources of contemplation
open to us.
In an incomparable way singing holds the dormant potential
to become a real universal language for all humankind:
singing reveals the whole meaning and sensuous richness of all peoples and cultures.
This unique treasury of language
must not become lost to us,
a process which is in fact taking place.
Therefore singing must not only be preserved,
but also promoted worldwide.
For singing makes possible, as nothing else,
a direct communication of hearts
beyond all cultural boundaries.
I could name a hundred cogent reasons
for the development of a new world culture of singing
that I have in mind as a vision of the future,
which humankind can realize in everyday life from their inner resources,
which can further the peaceable nature of human cultures with one another
through the strengthening of personal contentment and liveliness
and through a growing trust in individual lives
with their responsibilities and joys, their exertions and hardships.
If we human beings become aware of ourselves
as orchestral instruments in the symphony of creation,
and in singing learn ever afresh how to pacify,
– with the help of our recuperation through music –
we may learn to heal earth’s wounds that we have caused.
In singing we become inspiring and creative beings of sound:
through singing we breathe life into our world and actions,
offer love, joy, hope and confidence
but also sing away the pain in our souls
and in forgiving others enliven our hearts:
we are able to become the unifying song of the hymn of creation.
The ancient wisdom of peoples
and the latest findings of those scientists,
who seek to concentrate on the accumulated knowledge of past millennia
to the creative enrichment of cultures,
give us courage and capability enough
to found a world culture of singing.
Singing as a sound out of silence,
out of the richness of inner consciousness,
is a singing comprising
attentive listening that responds to others.
In the world it affects active listening,
and demands the most intense vivacity
in dancing, free-swinging encounters with all living beings.
Thus singing can at the same time move us in our inner being,
may even cause a gentle pacifying revolution
and perhaps increasingly help to release us human beings
from hostile personal and social situations.
All our experiences and our knowledge tell us
that it can be so.
On this path – as individuals from within to without,
and socially from below to above –
we human beings can develop the strength
to erect and maintain new structures
that will allow a living peace to grow under protection.
I know of nothing that will gainsay this.
Why should we not therefore in all confidence try,
together with all artists of this world and those who feel called upon to do so,
to develop such a world culture of singing
fed by all the world’s cultural sources?
We have nothing to lose, but much to gain.
even the smallest step along this path would be uplifting.
In singing we acknowledge one another and the world,
Nature and all those who are with us.
Georg Philipp Telemann recognized this when he said:
“Singing is first and foremost
the foundation of all music.”
Those who sing from their souls heal their own inner worlds at the same time.
When all sing from their souls they heal the outer world.
I would be filled with joy
were I to experience such a “Song of the World”
in the way that I can hear it in my mind:
“Il canto del mondo”