Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Mirror and the Knife

(An excerpt from Manos Chatzidakis' writings, giving the ultimate - in my opinion - definition for what singing is)

(Manos Chatzidakis)

   "Singing is not a slogan nor an act of relief. Neither is it a chewing gum for the mouths of sportive adolescents nor some nightly companion for the taxi or truck drivers.
   "It is a responsible relationship, a loving action between us which discloses us. A ritual that demands - both from you and me - a kind of religious preparation, a rigorous exercise of knowledge and innocence, of revelation and tracking down, of memory and prophecy.
   "Singing is a magical moment and I am a magician in a fair, representing you, going to light up your hidden and unseen corners, to surprise you, to fill you up with questions and melodies which may become yours and be brought at home with you, so that your sleep gets interrupted and your complacency gets lost forever - if possible.
   "There's no need for you to be able to sing my songs. After all, are you able to make a bird disappear or bring it up through your dress or napkin? However, you can't forget something like that when you see it, nor will you forget it for the rest of your life. 
   "Instead, you will be narrating it to your children, the way you saw it for the first time once from a magician in a fair - just like my song".
   "You will be remembering it and you will be keeping it within you, without the possibility to cheer it up with a smug and loud voice. You will only be able to mutter it like a prayer or the "Ypermacho". (*)
   "My singing is not simplistic and pleasant like the tin badge of a political party or an athletic association. It does not flatter your habits, nor does it dissipate your embarassment, your domestic boredom or your inadequacy in love.
   "My singing is neither a monophonic artery nor a polyphonic and popular hysteria. It is a mystic fountain, a proper and ethical stance against the lies of our era, a fanciful game following unpredictable rules, an unexpected melody which becomes yours, indispensibly tangled with incorruptible, poetic and reborn words.
   "And don't forget: when you leave here, you won't own anything but the feeling, the thoughts and the questions I've been conveying to you through my music for the whole evening. 
   "What remains to me is the song, my magical moment, which is an exquisite answer, as long as you ask me. So, ask me. And then, please, be quiet! Because I'm going to sing!

   "I believe that the art of singing comprises a social service, because singing unites us in a common myth. 
   "And, as in dancing we unite our hands to follow the same rhythmic movements, in a similar way we unite our souls in singing to follow the same internal vibrations altogether.
  "As for the common myth, which doesn't exist nowadays, we reform it anew and from the begining again and again. Every time that we feel deeply the urge to sing."

[Translated from the Greek text found here]

(*): "Ti Ypermacho" = A Christian Orthodox byzantine hymn dedicated to the Confederate Mary, our Lord's Mother, just after the unsuccessful attempt by the Avar peopple to conquer Constantinople, in 626 AD.