I am listening to an onbeing podcast episode with composer, conductor, and teacher, Alice Parker. It is so very lovely. And it makes me feel so very happy about the hours I’ve spent singing to my children. And with my children. And, especially, singing them to sleep.
Here is a bit of the transcript:
MS. PARKER: Yes. And watching those tiny babies develop, it just gave me this absolute conviction that babies — that’s the language of babies. That’s what they’re born knowing. From their first utterance, it’s all singing. And it takes a long time to learn the language, learn the words, and how to communicate from their brain.
And there was nothing that I loved that I could sing to them that they didn’t love and sing back because the trade that’s going on is not learning a song; it is human communication at its most elemental level, from the mother to baby, wordless hum or something like that. Which also leads me to conclude that song predates language, and that the first way that humans communicate is with vocal sound, which is much closer to song than it is to thought-out, measured, rational language.
MS. TIPPETT: Sentences. Bobby McFerrin once said to me — he said he suspected that we sang before we spoke.
MS. PARKER: I’m certain that that’s true.
MS. TIPPETT: Because we do — we talk a lot, and there’s a lot of study of how we learn language and the kind of elemental template in us, however that functions. And for you to point out which — we don’t need any scientist to prove this to us, right? That singing also emerges, that sound emerges just as naturally. It’s a possession almost.
MS. PARKER: It is. It’s one of the things that we’re born with. And it’s the great international, inter-everything language because it’s dealing with our inner emotional life. It’s as if singing is the language of the emotions. And it’s our intuitive life as opposed to our rational life. And we live in a society that has glorified rationality.