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  • Thank you for that. Hello.

  • My name is Gareth, as you just heard, and I am a composer.

  • Already, I can feel a tiny flush of shame at the uselessness of my job title.

  • (Laughter)

  • Because composers; who needs them, eh?

  • I think that little bit of shame encouraged me to create something useful,

  • and that was a project to try and improve

  • the life quality and the life expectancy of people with cystic fibrosis.

  • For most of my career, I have worked in opera.

  • I write operas.

  • As you can imagine, I work with very big, very powerful, very agile voices.

  • They can fill auditoriums much bigger than this,

  • they can cut across an orchestra of 120 people,

  • they can even shatter glass, so the story goes.

  • They are like the professional athletes of singing and breathing.

  • But "Breath Cycle" is a project;

  • It's a community opera and singing project for fragile voices,

  • people who you don't expect to find in an opera or in a song,

  • kind of disenfranchised or excluded from the world of singing.

  • It's a series of exercises, opera scenes, duets, and songs,

  • and lessons, and interviews, and online sharing,

  • alongside the monitoring of health and well-being.

  • All the music I made

  • is informed by, and performed by people with cystic fibrosis.

  • I'll tell you a bit about cystic fibrosis.

  • It's a genetic, incurable disease.

  • It causes mucus to build up in the lungs.

  • This causes breathing problems, as you can imagine,

  • so a persistent cough would be a symptom.

  • Lung infection, shortness of breath, the pancreas can become obstructed.

  • Over time, the lungs become scarred;

  • the lungs become damaged, and they stop working.

  • The average life expectancy for somebody with cystic fibrosis in the UK is 31,

  • which I find very shocking.

  • From first-hand experience,

  • I met 25 people in my pilot study with cystic fibrosis.

  • In the last 18 months, four of them have died.

  • They were all younger than me.

  • I have a good pal with cystic fibrosis so we meet for a cup of tea now and again.

  • She has good days and bad days.

  • On the bad days I can tell

  • because it seems to take quite a bit of time

  • to get to the end of the sentence.

  • She said something that really stuck with me,

  • and it's that on the bad days,

  • she feels like she has to remember how to breathe.

  • We're very lucky.

  • That's not something that occurs to us.

  • We do take breathing for granted.

  • For example, I've been breathing this whole time on stage,

  • and you haven't even noticed!

  • (Laughter)

  • Let's not take the next one for granted.

  • Sit up straight.

  • Engage the diaphragm, as they say.

  • And let's take a big breath.

  • (He breathes in and out)

  • I really enjoyed that one. That helped!

  • We are very lucky because that was very easy.

  • That's not so much the case for people with cystic fibrosis, on their bad days.

  • I'd like to do another breath.

  • Let's take a breath,

  • but this time I'm going to give you a note to sing.

  • I want you to hold that note for as absolutely long as you can.

  • Let's see who in the room can hold it for the longest,

  • bearing in mind that I have to be wrapped up quite soon.

  • (Laughter)

  • Don't think there's a big jump from breathing to singing.

  • There isn't, as far as I am concerned; singing is just beautiful breathing.

  • Here's your note:

  • (Sings a note)

  • One, two:

  • (Audience mimic sung note)

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • If I over-run it's your fault.

  • (Laughter)

  • I did the exact same little thing with people with cystic fibrosis

  • at the start of our journey;

  • I timed them to see how long they could sing a note.

  • It's one of the little markers we put in the sand.

  • The average was about 3-4 seconds.

  • You can see what I mean when I say they are somewhat disenfranchised

  • from that world of breathing and singing that we find so natural.

  • Everyday, someone with cystic fibrosis has to do physiotherapy.

  • This is a daily regime, a very ritualistic series of exercises and techniques

  • to get that mucus, to get that fluid, out of their lungs.

  • It's quite an arduous process, for up to two hours a day.

  • This is one of the first places I thought, "I'd like to help here."

  • I created a series of vocal exercises,

  • targeting lung function,

  • but in collaboration with physiotherapists at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow.

  • We asked the participants, over a period of time,

  • to do these vocal exercises, alongside their physiotherapy.

  • In many ways, I already see a lot of parallels

  • between the lives of the singers I know and work with,

  • and the lives of people with cystic fibrosis.

  • In that, there is this ritualistic regime, every day,

  • of keeping this instrument in top health and in good shape.

  • Alongside those vocal exercises, we went into Gartnavel Hospital,

  • with the support and collaboration

  • of Dr. Gordon MacGregor and his wonderful team in the respiratory ward.

  • We give singing lessons in the ward.

  • And this is the absolute highlight of this whole thing I talk about:

  • it's coming into the ward in the morning,

  • and hearing Marie Claire Breen, my gorgeous vocal coach,

  • singing with a participant,

  • and these beautiful voices coming down in the corridor.

  • That grabs me.

  • Because there's nothing more thrilling, as far as I'm concerned,

  • then hearing art or music

  • somewhere when you don't expect to hear or see art or music.

  • I would like to stop and show you a little clip of the kind of things

  • they get up to in these lessons.

  • One, two, three,

  • four, five, six,

  • seven, eight, nine, ten.

  • - Are we good? Ha, ha, ha. - Always speak and whisper.

  • - A-ha. - Aaa!

  • - Brrrrrr. - Brrrr!

  • Hi.

  • - Uuuu! - Uuu!

  • Sh-sh-sh-shhh!

  • Prrrrrrrrrrr!

  • - Eee-eee! -Eee-eee-eee!

  • - Eee-ee-eee, try that! - Eee-ee-eee!

  • -Eeeeeeeeeee!

  • -Eeee--! - Eeee-eee-eee!

  • - Aaa-aa--! -Aaa-aa.

  • So, thank you, thank you, thank you. Good.

  • That is a very traditional way to teach singing.

  • It's one-to-one, face-to-face,

  • and those are warm-up exercises and little vocal techniques

  • that singers use all the time

  • to keep that instrument working, and keep it at its maximum strength.

  • I've mentioned that for people with cystic fibrosis,

  • there are certain barriers that exist between them and singing.

  • This is a community singing project.

  • Not only are there barriers to singing,

  • there are barriers to that other word, "community",

  • because people with cystic fibrosis aren't allowed to meet.

  • They're not allowed in the same room as each other

  • due to the dangers of cross infection.

  • When I had the idea to make a community music project

  • for a community who can't be together, it did seem vaguely impossible.

  • But completely necessary.

  • I think the simple solutions are the best.

  • We opened up an online forum.

  • A place where they could upload their videos;

  • of doing their homework, doing their exercises, singing their favorite songs.

  • I wanted it to be a positive learning environment online,

  • that was about singing, nothing else.

  • They started to meet each other, they started to talk,

  • they really supported each other,

  • and we got that sense of involvement that can be difficult

  • when working with this group of people.

  • Our vocal coach, Marie Claire, uploaded here too.

  • She would upload feedback, videos, and little pointers, things to try out.

  • This was the little beating heart of our project, right here.

  • I'd like to show you another little clip.

  • This is the kind of videos that was turning up in our inbox,

  • and on our forum each week.

  • They'll probably kill me for showing these!

  • Man: Week two, track number one.

  • A-aaa-a-aaa-aah!

  • Woman 1: Aaaaaaaah!

  • Woman 2: Eeee-eeee-aaaa-aa-aaah!

  • Woman 3: Smile, though your heart is aching.

  • Smile, even though it's breaking.

  • Woman 4: Hey, Big Spender!

  • Speeeeend a little time with me.

  • Woman 5: Aaaaaaaaaa-aaaaau!

  • Uuuuu-uuu-uu!

  • (Applause)

  • I think you'll notice that some of them

  • have more of an understanding of showbiz than others.

  • Some of those camera angles weren't arrived at by chance, methinks.

  • (Laughter)

  • As to what I did then, at this stage,

  • I worked with a writer called David James Brock

  • who lives in Canada so we two collaborate online together.

  • We talked to the participants and from those conversations,

  • we made lyrics, we made libretto and text,

  • and then I sat in and I watched them learn to sing every week.

  • From looking at their range, getting to know them

  • and wanting to help push on their vocal development,

  • I created very bespoke and tailor-made melodies and vocal lines for them to sing.

  • I do feel I wanted there to be that sense of ownership in the musical material

  • that it genuinely belonged to all of us.

  • We made things like Skype-duets

  • where they could practice and perform together online.

  • We made some YouTube video installations,

  • and we made some ensemble pieces that we assembled

  • in the recording studio together

  • because I wanted them to be able to inhabit the same song,

  • even though they can't inhabit the same space.

  • Why do we make these things?

  • It's because there's nothing more exciting

  • than having people who traditionally aren't supposed to be in an opera,

  • in your opera.

  • It's the best thing.

  • I want to tell you now about the results that we have so far.

  • This is our pilot trial project.

  • Most patients showed a decent increase in lung function.

  • One delightful measure which is FEV1, their marker,

  • which is the amount of air you can blow in one second

  • and which is very closely linked to your life expectancy, actually.

  • We got an average rise here of 14%, which is very encouraging.

  • We are at the stage where we are looking for more participants.

  • Other hospitals are coming online to try this trial out.

  • We have hospitals over in Toronto, New York, and across the UK,

  • and we need to see 330 people with cystic fibrosis

  • over the next few years.

  • I'm very excited by this because I can't wait to write music

  • for people with cystic fibrosis all over the world, to perform together.

  • That's very exciting.

  • All these things make me wonder, and I always ask the question,

  • what's opera all about?

  • And "Who is it for?", and "Who should be in it?".

  • I think the answer is, "Everybody."

  • I guess if I had one hope and dream for this whole project,

  • it would be that in the future,

  • singing and vocal training will very much be part

  • of the way we treat and care for people with cystic fibrosis.

  • That's my take-away hope.

  • I'm going to stop soon, but before I go, let's have another breath together.

  • Inhale.

  • (He inhales and exhales)

  • I think that's how you know you're going to be OK in the future.

  • Just keep breathing.

  • (Applause)

Thank you for that. Hello.

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TEDx】Making Music for Fragile Voices|ギャレス・ウィリアムズ|TEDxUniversityofEdinburgh (【TEDx】Making Music for Fragile Voices | Gareth Williams | TEDxUniversityofEdinburgh)

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    songwen8778 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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