~ Hazel Harps On

Voice Matters

I can’t stop thinking about it. In music and in writing few things are more important. A distinctive voice can really put us ahead in the game. Each of us is given a unique voice but whether it is gravelly, smooth and creamy, high and reedy or whatever, it can be worked on and can be changed. It’s up to us how we do it.

Singing has always been important for me. In the past I sang a lot of Renaissance choral music and strived for angelic purity when soaring up to those high notes. But now I’m exploring other types of vocal sound. With The Hummingbirds it’s still mainly classical and requires a bell-like tone. But when Saffron introduced me and my harp to jazz and Blues I found I was singing at least an octave lower and needed a stronger, earthier voice.

(Both groups doing the ‘Dunster by Candlelight' stint at the castle last year – soon to be repeated!)

I’ve recently joined the Foxwillow duo (yet more songs to learn!) and for that I need to aim for a different tone again – something a bit more folksy.

The harp, of course, has a clear voice of its own, and everything I do has to compliment that. The harp’s voice is the all-important attention–grabber.

A novel has to grab attention too, from the very first line. The vast amount of competition makes this even more essential. And the best way to grab attention, I've found, is to use a striking voice. At Winchester Writers’ Festival I attended an inspiring talk from Meg Rosoff all about the importance of voice. Relating it back to my novel I realised I’d done exactly what she recommended. Perhaps that’s why I was told by an agent the following day - and I have to remind myself of this often because I'm finding edits difficult - that out of the twenty-five manuscripts she’d been submitted via the Festival, mine was the one that stuck in her head. Not because of my carefully-constructed plot or flowing descriptions, but because of the quirky voice of my protagonist.

My fabulous writing guru Simon Hall recently described how an editor compared his voice to Yoda’s - not necessarily a bad thing! (Read the blog under 'Battles of the Edits': When I look at my own stories, I notice the most successful are those in the first person where the characters tell their tale in a very unique style. Voice is what makes them stand out.

There's no denying it. Voice is well worth thinking about.

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