Posts Tagged ‘Zen’

What is freedom in singing?

June 16, 2009

Freedom and singing.

What is freedom in singing? To me, this means, being able to express any desired sound that one is capable of, at will.

How can one attain this? Zen explains much of this.

Please now refer to the section on Zen and bondag–May 19, 2009.

Challenge of tan tien

June 14, 2009

Having posture utilizing tan tien is challenging. The body’s prior habitual tension deter this. Downcast head and sunken shoulders encourage hips to move backside. The taut myofascia and chronic muscular tension means that deliberate efforts to place tan tien are usually challenging.

Achieving good tan tien should be seen as a continual postural alignment process and removing the bad postural built-up tensions.

When sitting, make sure not to put pressure on the lower back.   Pull it in.


Tan Tien

June 14, 2009

This is a part of the body above the sexual organs, that Chinese thought says is the focus of energy. It is located very close to the source of kundalini energy (Indian thought).

If you’re able to tuck your tan tien proper, your posture will straighten immensely. My initial perception is that this can increase highs because proper posture alignment helps to send the sound up through the sinus cavities.

Tucking in the lower abdomen will also solve the lower backache problems (because less continual tension on lower back muscles and ligaments–continual tension is usually the source of lower backaches), prostatitis pain (as explained, much of the pain of prostatitis is from the muscles surrounding the prostate),  sunken chest, acid reflux, excessive saliva while singing).

Zen and singing

May 22, 2009

Does Zen apply toward singing? has not found any evidence of historical Zen Buddhism applied toward singing. Does anyone know?  Please inform us.

Is it reasonable to assume then that Zen can be applied toward singing? Recall, Zen Buddhism is really a derivative of Chan Buddhism (Chinese), and Buddhism started in India, which was and still is Hindu. One would expect these Eastern cultural techniques to have been applied toward singing; and perhaps we just don’t know anything about it.

So, is it reasonable to assume that Zen is applicable to singing?

Well, consider all the other influences Buddhism has in Japan– Zen in tea ceremonies, Zen in archery, Zen in sumo wrestling, Zen in samurai, etc. It would be surprising that Zen wasn’t applied toward singing.

Buddha was known be love singing.

Zen and bondage

May 19, 2009

Zen Sayings:

Zen in its essence is the art of seeing into the nature of one’s being and it points the way from bondage to freedom. D.T. Suzuki (a famous Zen teacher).

What is bondage and what is freedom?
Bondage is usually some form of repetitive behaviour, a circular behaviour that yields the same negative results. Freedom is the ability to choose behaviour preferred.

The clearest examples of bondage are compulsions, also frequently known as addictive behaviour. For example, certain forms of compulsive eating, depression, sex addiction, resentment, the world is filled with compulsions. Indeed, VocalPosture believes that it is compulsions, more than any other emotion, that drives the world.

If compulsions are driving so many of one’s actions, what makes you think that compulsion isn’t driving your voice? Indeed it is! All kinds of contrary compulsions prevent you from reaching your vocal capabilities. Is this true? VocalPosture will follow up with a description of hearing, which is needed to  explain how compulsions prevent your great singing from blossoming, like the lotus flower.

Chen Sun

Lotus flower and restoration of divine voice

May 19, 2009

The lotus flower is symbolic in Buddhist art. The idea is that the lotus rises through the mucky muddy waters, to have a straight stem and then a large, beautiful blooming flower. If you’ve ever seen lotus flowers in bloom in a pond, particularly lotus flowers blooming about 4 feet or higher in air, you’ll understand.

The symbolism is that the flower is inherently beautiful; and that it simply needs to rise up straight through the mucky muddy pond water to express its beauty. Similarly, in VocalPosture’s Zen-derived analogy, the divine voice is in itself beautiful, and the objective of VocalPosture’s singing pedagogy is to allow the divine voice itself to arise from the muddy waters of past emotions, bad habits, tensions, to straighten its spine (stem) such that the beautiful flowering (the singing) can be heard.

Zen (actually Buddhist and Hindu-derived) philosophy enables VocalPosture to make all its speculative claims on how posture is able to create a beautiful blossoming voice.

The significance is that VocalPosture’s view is that most of learning how to sing deals with how to restore-straighten the spine to enable the voice to express its innate beauty. This is a vastly different approach to singing pedogagy than practicing scales to polish-up-create a beautiful voice.

Chen Sun

Zen and the imperfect

May 17, 2009

Ancient Japanese Zen art, architecture, pottery, etc. frequently have imperfection built-in. A tea cup that is not symetrical, a house with an irregular window, etc. The Zen way of looking at life realizes that life has imperfections, and builds this into art, and admires imperfection as part of the living experience.

Western art strives instead for perfection–symetrical, balanced, geometric. These arise from Greek ideals of perfection.

In singing though, audiences frequently prefer the living life and its imperfections.

Until one reaches perfect singing (very difficult for most), it is actually better to acknowledge one’s imperfections in voice, understand the audience frequently wants to hear this imperfection, and utilize this.

Chen Sun

questions to ask about posture

May 10, 2009

Additionally, I’d like to ask how is it that the posture isn’t naturally good? And why is it we don’t hear ourselves accurately? Lastly, why we don’t automatically express our feeling lyrically and musically?

My suggestion is that Zen Buddhist concepts are very similar to these. If we observe meditation, much of the work itself is a straight spine posture. The sound waves we hear are inaccurate in part because without good posture, it travels through the bones in a different way. And without good posture, the body’s emotions remain bound in certain taut or over-relaxed muscles—hence, the expression is always different.

What I’m suggesting is that Eastern concepts of restoring the divine and then taking this and focusing on meditation and its straight spine, is basically analogous to—restoring the misaligned divine voice within by straightening the spine.

Vocal Support

April 20, 2009

The question is posed, what is “support” , what part of the body is being talked about?

An initial answer is that support is working against the natural urge of the diaphragm to release the air that has been inhaled….” by Martin at .

Martin says “This is achieved by resisting its movement. During singing, the waist muscles and solar plexus are pushed outwards, the abdomen around the navel is gradually pulled in in a constant and sustained manner, and the back muscles are tightened. The muscles in the loin are trying to push the pelvis backwards while the muscles in the abdomen are trying to pull the pelvis up under your body. This battle created between the abdominal muscles and the muscles in the loin is a valuable and important part of the support.

The support must however happen in a sustained and continuous manner as though working against a resistance, for as long as a sound is being produced. When the muscle contractions stop being sustained and continuous (for instance, if you can not pull the abdomen around the navel inwards any further or push the muscles of the waist or solar plexus outwards any further) then there is usually no more support. It is important to conserve your support energy so you do not waste it or use it at the wrong point in time. Do not use support before it is necessary for example when the singing gets difficult, such as on high notes or at the end of a phrase. Support is hard physical work so you should be in good physical condition.”


Thank you, Martin. This is very interesting. Is your defined support term different from the use of the word usage meaning breath support?

I like what you wrote (rare for me, as you know), but want to add a few more challenges.  I agree with you on the strengthening the lower abdomen to gain support and improve singing. But, until I’ve had a chance to really test the intracies of the muscles you’ve described, am unsure what will really happen.

“Do not use support before it is necessary for example when the singing gets difficult, such as on high notes or at the end of a phrase.”

Also, regarding not to use before it is necessary, why is this?

To elaborate, in yoga, there’s a great deal of emphasis to gain elasticity and strength in the lower back and the waist area. And in Chinese thought, there’s an emphasis on an area immediately below the navel, called the Tan Tien. In yoga and other Hindu thought, the lower abdomen and waist is where the kundalini energy arises. So, it would seem that the support for a lot of physical power is already in other thoughts. The major difference between what you’ve described and Eastern thoughts is the application toward the voice. Hence, there’s a great deal of similarities between learning how to sing and Eastern “spiritual” practices (which include martial arts, yoga, and meditation). But, there no such “Do not use support….” that I’m aware of. It seems support is continually cultivated here.

So, my next question is…. Is support a postural support that is to be continually practiced on and strengthened, or is it an occasional usage in singing?

Chen Sun

FAQ–Mixed voice

April 15, 2009

The question is what is a mixed voice?


Form a standing wave with the vocal tract’s resonating tube-cavity.  The result is that most of the amplification is through resonance and standing wave.   If you form the standing and resonating wave correctly, it will automatically have the mixed or full sounds—because the entire vocal tract is resonating.


To “mix” this sound, it is more a matter of subtraction—put a barrier to muffle or absorb the head or chest voice.


The question now is—how does one form the standing wave resonating tube cavity to begin with?  Obviously, if your posture isn’t correct, it won’t form correctly.   And if you have back of mouth obstructions it may not form the highs correctly.   So, the first step is to get your posture correct and then your vocal structure correct, which is what is described extensively in  


From a “ZenSinging” perspective, the question should be, why don’t you already have a mixed voice?  The Zen answer is that you lost it.  So, the focus should be on restoring what was lost, instead of getting the mixed voice.   The restoration techniques are different from standard singing training techniques.