High Intimacy

David Brown notes in God and Grace of Body that there is an intimacy in the higher register of the voice.  He particularly singles out the male voice singing falsetto as an intimate listening experience, possibly also linked to spiritual experience.

He is quite right; there is something about a man singing falsetto that lays him bare in a way that creates an intimacy between the performer and the listener.

One of the most intense concerts I have ever been to was one of James Bowman’s, in which the countertenor captivated the audience.  Though at the end of his career, the performer was able to create an intimacy with the audience through his performance, and Brown’s comments lead me to wonder to what extent the audience was swayed into this relationship merely by the register in which he was singing.  Obviously, Bowman is an extremely gifted performer, with an accomplished technique, but perhaps there is something to Brown’s argument.  I can think of one other extremely captivating and intimate concert, in which the choir Ex Cathedra finished with a procession out of Durham Cathedral, with an extremely controlled sustained note.  I can’t remember now if it was a chord or one note, but the note I remember was a very high note, performed with absolute control, as the choir exited.  Again, intense and intimate are the two words that spring to mind (and not intimate in the sense of small audience – the audience in this case was quite big).  But I can only speak from personal experience.

The question, then, is what does this mean for spiritual experience?  Is an intimate musical experience more likely to be a spiritual experience?

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