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This article appears in the September 29, 2023 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

November 10, 2015

To Save Civilization, Place Your Voice!

[Print version of this article]

We present here newly edited excerpts from a limited circulation presentation by Lyndon LaRouche at the age of 93 to colleagues, which is now, in the context of the emergence of Humanity for Peace, more than timely.

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picture by Ricardo André Frantz
A segment of Luca della Robbia’s choir loft (Cantoria) from the Renaissance Florence cathedral (Duomo).

There is a theme right now, and it’s a very important one. I’ve intended that the United States should be located for us in terms of New York City, of Manhattan. There is no other locality as such of specific quality to be a substitute for the fact that Manhattan is the real capital of the United States. And that is a fact which was intended by the founders of the nation. But then you had a bunch of bums who came in as Presidents of local areas. That goes to the whole problem of the history of the United States.

We’re trying to enable the uniting of the elements of the United States into a single power; a single potency; a single instrument.

Now, that goes together with the fact that nations as such—like China, like India and so forth—are all going to have to be brought into a new kind of configuration in which they will have the effect of sovereignty as a matter of policy—as a matter of providing progress toward a more refined development. But the idea of the United States as really a fixed organization of a number of states was always wrong. Alexander Hamilton’s case is a good way to understand how this thing went on. Remember, the slave system, the introduction of the slave system in the United States was typical of the division of the United States into parts, into virtual semi-states as such. That piece of filth, which has been fought by all our greatest Presidents and their associates has to be understood.

Start with Music

Now, first of all, we are clearing up the question of music. We no longer accept mere music; it’s a failure, it’s a mistake. Because it has no placement of the voice, and the basis of everything depends on the placement of the voice. Otherwise, you really don’t have a basis of unity. When people use different terms, different words, idiosyncrasies and so forth, and try to make that set of idiosyncrasies and trade styles into a nation—that was always a failure, that was always an error.

Now what’s happening, we’re taking the placement of the voice, the true placement of the human voice, which is not a snarl or a growl or a coughing up of things. It’s a way which is not mathematical. Mathematics is the enemy of the human mind; it always has been. And the point is that mankind’s creative powers, the placement of the voice as such, is the principle of organization of a competent society. Because the principle of the placement of the voice—you have a model of this in the case of the work of Wilhelm Furtwängler—Furtwängler’s work fits precisely into that question of the placement of the human singing voice. And what we’re doing is, we are now creating a new kind of understanding of what the United States always did intend to be. And now we’re going to have to make it come to be what it always should have been, as intended by Alexander Hamilton and other such people.

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Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler (center) with the soloists for a performance of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony (the Ninth) in Bayreuth in 1954.

So the point is, the use of music is legitimate as long as you don’t sing the wrong way. Your voice has to be placed appropriately. You don’t make sounds. You understand the principle of musical composition. And you work at maintaining that. This defines the true meaning of what the United States should have always represented. And the blab, blab, blab and blab, blab, blab, and all those kinds of funny sounds will have to be purged.

The United States is a single state. It is not a collection of states, and that fact was always true—as Alexander Hamilton had argued. The United States has never worked successfully, except as a single nation. But it has to be a single nation with a single quality of singing voice and that’s what we’re working on. We’re working on that standpoint of reference as a scientific principle. We are working to bring everything into conformity with the proper placement of the human singing voice. We want the placement of the voice and that would unify human beings. Because only when they have the right kind of voice are they really human. The point is to bring together the harmony of the forces of the nation. And you will find that that leads to the best scientific result. I can tell you that the work we started in 2014 on this is working.

Remember, we are at the point that this whole system, the whole United States system in its present form, is ready to disintegrate. And the only way you’re going to prevent a disintegration of the United States, is by learning to place your voice properly. We’re at a point of real desolation, of all hope for mankind under the present global conditions. There are parts of China, part of India, some other parts moving in a different direction, but in the trans-Atlantic region, we have essentially degeneration. Not a regeneration, but a degeneration.

Being Practical Is Not Intelligent

But this approach is the only way we’re going to succeed in maintaining this nation. We’ve got to cause it to place its voice properly. That is feasible. The problem is, if the person standing or sitting next to you does not have a decent voice, you’re being endangered. You have to do something about that. But that, in short is it; that’s exactly it. We’re going that way because there’s no other way to go; no other way makes sense. The idea of being practical is not being intelligent. It’s the beauty of the human mind, the placement of the voice in a human way.

The thing to always go back to is: You never sound music. You don’t sound the music as such; you place the voice. And the placement of the voice creates the music. It is not your throat driving some kind of machine that makes noises; it’s the idea of the placement of the mind; you don’t sound the notes. You create the activity of the voice. And there’s a difference, a fundamental difference. Therefore, the idea in the Italian model, which is the Classical Italian model, is the most efficient standard model.

Now Helga [Zepp-LaRouche] and I, in our various occasions in Italy, working with the Italian music people and forces saw that that’s what they did, and the placement is there. If you go to the Italian performers of that generation—our generation—the placement is there. You do not make a sound; that’s not music. You make a vacuum in a sense, which is the voice. You resonate something in that sense; you don’t generate a noise. You place the voice. And we have people who are practicing as musicians, and they work on the basis of the placement of the voice; not the voice as such, but the placement of the voice. And anyone who has a beautiful voice, has it essentially because of placement. And that placement is what’s crucial. That placement is what makes the meaning of human pleasant. And that’s the truth of the matter, and rarely understood very well.

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The New York Community Chorus rehearsing under the baton of Diane Sare.

Now, for example, what’s wrong with the average citizen of the United States today? Just the average citizen? Why are they all stupid, hmm! What is their stupidity? They believe that they make noises; they talk, they make noises; they rub, they make noises. This has nothing to do with true mankind, but quite the contrary. The idea of placement of the voice, is not making a sound. The placement of the voice is an act, which has an effect; but it’s not a noise. It’s not a sound; it’s not noise, as such. It has a very specific kind of character, and any attempt to imitate that character, without the right placement, is a failure.

Most modern people are stupid. Why are they stupid? Because they don’t have a placement, of the mind. And that’s where the problem is. Because the question is, here: What’s important? Making noises? Well, we can get skunks to make noises. As a matter of fact, skunks will make noises. The smell of course is not what you might like, but they sure can make stinks. But the point is, you’re not making a noise, or something like a noise, in order to communicate. You are placing the voice, in a particular way, which affects the mental processes of the human mind.

Tuning the Mind

We’re now organizing in Manhattan a complete overhaul of the idea of music relative to what the standard has been heretofore, for a long period of time. The placement of the voice is not something that’s arbitrary. The placement of the voice is a particular area of the human mind, and the human mind’s behavior, which responds to the human mind itself. So it’s not tuning something; it’s not tuning an object. The problem is most people tune objects, they don’t tune the mind, they tune objects.

Placement is not something you can deviate from, it’s not a sound! It’s a resonance, it’s not a sound. And if you want to get the effect, the audible effect, you have to tune your mind to go to the right tuning. The placement of the voice, the exact pitch of the voice, that pitch is what your contract is, the placement of that pitch. And you have to let it project. You don’t utter it. You don’t actually utter it; you cause it to be brought forth.

There’s no such thing as tuning to a music that you impose. No such thing! It’s the placement of the voice, and the placement is a vacation—it’s a place which is not a place. And you move, you become tuned. You become tuned. How? By placing your voice; but you don’t make the voice. You hear the voice, but you don’t make it. But you act in such a way as to respond, to resonate, with the voice that cannot be heard per se, not generated per se. It’s the placement of the sound, but it’s not the sound itself. And the placement authorizes the application of what you call the amplitude of the sound.

And this goes for all the instruments, and the voices. The voices are not spurting out noises, they’re receiving something, they’re resonating, they are tuned into the environment in which they’re speaking. They’re tuned into the environment and that’s the difference. And that’s a subject which is almost lost, unknown, to most people in music today. They have no conception of what the placement of the voice means. And yet, the greatest singers and composers, instrumentalists as well, all understood it. What’s happened is today’s population has no comprehension of what the whole damned thing is about! And only a handful of people have any real conception of this.

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Mirella Freni
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EIRNS/Stuart Lewis
William Warfield
Italian soprano Mirella Freni on stage in Barcelona in 1993, and American bass William Warfield at a Schiller Institute event in May 1994. Both were signers of the Institute’s petition to return to the Verdi tuning.

It’s not the sound that’s created, not the sound as such: It’s the human being, the tuning of the mind of the human being! Not the tuning of the voice, it’s the tuning of the mind.

And the tuning of the mind, and the function of the mind, are one and the same thing.

You don’t make the sound. Your presence makes the voice; you obey the voice. You don’t generate the voice, you obey it. And you learn to obey. The successful singer learns to behave well, according to those standards. And what comes out of the singer is something which the singer just does, because they understand what they must do. They understand what they must let their voice do, and at what pitch, at what tuning, at what mode. And that gets lost, because people try to make sounds, and making sounds is the wrong way to go at it.

Tuning Yourself to Humanity

What you have, is you tune yourself to mankind; you tune yourself to humanity. You do not direct a sound as such; you get something that flows from around the singer’s mind, and so forth. But it’s not created as making a noise, or a sound as such. It’s the tuning of the body, the tuning of the mind. And all of the good things that come out of that process are of that nature.

That’s the only true principle of music: the placement of the voice which is not generated by a push from a voice. And that’s what’s been lost! And you get singers who learn to do it, but when they really do it well, they don’t think in those terms; they think about projecting, they think about forming the effect. But it has to be tuned right. The human voice is tuned: It isn’t making noise; it’s tuned. In other words, just imagine, an area of sound, a fluid of sound; absolute, indefinite sound. Now what, in that indefinite sweep of sound, per se, what constitutes real music? The thing that stands out, the vacuum; the place that is different. And when the singer is trained, the voice is trained, the voice follows that rule; you, your body, everything about you, has now been tuned, like water. And when you’re tuned, then you’re in harmony with the universe. And the purpose of music is to find mankind’s sense of harmony, of mankind in the universe.

You have to follow this rule. You have to say, no, I’m not making a sound, I’m tuning myself, against an environment which is different. And what we have, we have the whole musical program we’re running in Manhattan, is all based on this. Everything you need, the instruments and the singers are being tuned, tuned according to law. And it’s by inspiring people to accept being tuned in that sense that they become human, and they don’t make non-human noises anymore.

The problem is we’re so corrupted by assuming that different styles and different kinds of things make a sound! And it actually is the non-sound that you want to hear. The non-sound that is different, than all the sounds around you. All you have to do is get into singing: Singing and finding out the placement of the voice. And people who can place the voice will tend to understand that. They may use another word for it; they may use another term; they maybe get distracted. But what they are is they are human! And what they’re doing is, they’re being human. As opposed to people who ain’t so human. Listen to recordings of the baritone Heinrich Schlusnus singing. You will get a lot of that, and you will recognize exactly how that works.

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EIRNS/Stuart Lewis
A sextet at the Schiller Institute’s May 1994 conference at the Howard University Rankin Memorial Chapel, for a Marian Anderson National Conservatory of Music Movement. From left to right: Rev. James Cokley, George Shirley, Detra Battle (largely hidden), Kehembe (Valerie Eichelberger), William Warfield, and Robert McFerrin.

Changing the Universe with the Good

And that’s where people get lost. People work, their minds work in discussions, in ways which are really not human. But you have people who will, in some off moment, as a singer, with a trained voice, will fall into that understanding. And that’s what happens with the best singers, the best musicians: They fall into something which is imposed upon them by their conscience; and the conscience comes from the standpoint of what they have acquired as understanding how to influence the universe. In other words, you’re not putting a sound into the area; you are changing the definition of the universe. You’re placing it. And that’s what makes it work.

But the problem is that we live in a world of idiots and gossips; and when they say something it doesn’t mean a goddamned thing! Only when it’s something which is different, where you change the atmosphere according to a principle, does it mean something. And that’s the point. The problem is that our minds don’t function properly, because we’re too busy trying to make noises according to some rule. We don’t realize that when you organize the process in the proper way, that’s what makes life rich and good.

People sing. Why do they sing? To impress something upon the environment? On the contrary! They sing to eliminate the noises. And the remainder of that deduction of noise is music. And in Manhattan, we are in the process of doing that. That’s what we’re doing.

Practical people just don’t understand that. I have enjoyed beauty for many years, not recently so much. I’m in no condition to be involved in the music business otherwise, practically. But I know about it, and I haven’t forgotten about it. I know when it’s right; I’m also very aware when it’s wrong. You make people happy by getting the dirt out of the atmosphere and creating a blank area, where there is no dirt. And that resonates, by subtraction, by eliminating noises. The placement of the voice is not adding something to the voice, it’s subtracting from the noise! That’s what’s beautiful: You subtract the noise. And that’s what makes you dream well, and think well, and enjoy life, by getting rid of bad noise in all forms.

The problem can be seen in mathematics. What’s a mathematician? He’s a criminal. He thinks that he can design the behavior of the universe and everything else, by mathematics. He’s an idiot, and a noisemaker! But the whole principle—what destroys the people of the United States, is mathematics.

We are making a revolution centered on Manhattan right now. That’s what the basis of our organization’s existence is as of now: The determination to effect that kind of reform. That’s the idea. It’s by ending the noise that you hear the music. And on that question, I am firmly committed.

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