Austin — In the middle of today’s practice I find myself climbing a long vocal stairway. As I sing upward, steady step by step, I see the image of Emei Shan, a sacred mist-topped Chinese mountain I once climbed. It had stone steps the whole way up.
I keep climbing into the thin air, pitch wavering with the altitude, until it seems I have reached the top. My voice is crackly and thin and advances no more.
From this altitude I get loose, drunken in my song, and sing up and down in long reckless glides, a pendulum off center. I can feel the momentum, the gravity and the subsequent launch back up.
Is it conditioning or an element of physics that “low” notes really do feel altitudinally low and “high” notes high?