top of page

Singing with Water

Hi, it's been a little while! I've been going into semi-hibernation but wanted to share this post with you as a way of connecting sonorously to the season...

There is a lot of water at the moment - where I live in mid Wales, anyway, and, if you listen, carefully, each river and each stream, has its own voice (or voices), which change with rainfall and probably also many other mysterious forces unbeknownst to me. The sea, perhaps, changes most obviously, with the tides and the weather.

What do you hear in the water that flows nearest to your home?

Singing with flowing water is one of my greatest joys, which if you haven't done so, I urge you to try. When I led MOONCHOIR, a small improvising group of singers and sounders in Machynlleth, we met for two years in a magical barn with a stream running through it, and many people found the sound of the water encouraging - a bed from which the sound of our voices could begin. I find it has been one of the most LIBERATING practices I have done as a singer. (Perhaps it is something to do with the phenomenon where those who would never call themselves singers bursting mysteriously into song in the shower?) So, if you are unconfident in using your singing voice at all - or, perhaps, are a trained singer but feel unable to 'improvise', I really recommend trying this next time you visit your local store or river, or the sea... Alternatively, if this is inaccessible to you, you could try singing/sounding with a recording of water as a starting point, such as one of those on the Wild Notes Wales Soundcloud page.

1) Take a few minutes just to LISTEN to the sounds of the water, allowing yourself to become 'enchanted'. Close your eyes if this feels safe.

2) Imagine the sound creating a forcefield or BUBBLE of protection around you.

3) SHAKE OFF any tension you feel in your body. If you feel able, make whatever sounds/noises want to come out, moving with your body. There is nothing that could be too ridiculous here, honestly!

4) TUNE IN some more, letting the sound really infuse into you, listening to all the layers. Breath deeply, releasing each breath into the flow of the water, and renewing with each inhalation.

5) When you feel ready, allow yourself to SOUND a note - letting your intuition guide your pitch (how high or low the note is), and knowing you can change it if and when you like. Remember, there are no rules, just you and the water! Spend a few moments singing/sounding long notes on vowel sounds - or 'toning', allowing yourself to breath when you need and change the pitch when you feel.

6) Come into CONVERSATION with the water. Let the flow of the water and your intuition guide a sequence of sounds (I recommend continuing with just vowel sounds, but remember, do as you feel - there are no rules). Then, stop sounding to allow the water's voice(s) to come to the fore once more. Notice if it sounds different now... Again, when you are ready - and you may really feel this moment, sing another sequence. You may want to try differentiating each of your sequences in some way, for instance by moving from higher to lower sounds each time, or some other kind of contour. You may just want to surrender completely to the moment. Another approach is to actually imagine a question you are asking the water through your song, or sending a message to it, hidden in your sound. Experiment!

7) When you have come to an end with your sounding, spend some time listening again. Just NOTICE how you feel.

8) You may want to also WRITE some reflections down, straight away - this could take the form of 'stream-of-consciousness' writing, where you do not stop at all to think about what you are writing - just get words down on the page about your experience, or anything that 'came through' whilst singing, or simply how you are feeling in the moment.

9) BEFORE LEAVING / moving onto whatever you are doing next, take a few deep breaths to bring yourself fully back, and thank yourself and the water.

10) It would be great to know how you found this - please write to me at

Also, for those of you living in Wales, I am still inviting you to send in your sound recordings, drawings and writings in response to the sound of water near your home, to help inspire a piece of musical storytelling for my project 'Soundmapping our 5 Square Miles', funded by the Arts Council of Wales and National Lottery Fund (see previous posts for full bilingual info in Welsh and English on the overview of this).

photo: Copyright Erin Kavanagh

I almost forgot...

Yesterday, a poem bubbled up through me and I wanted to share it, aware that it may get shaped by creative currents a bit more later on:


Water you carry home

all language in your very own,

Secrets, memories, and song

Questions, answers both as one

Endings and beginnings in seamless flow,

From source to sea a single poem

Always going on -

Yn mynd ymlaen,

Always waiting to be known

You summon with your rising waves

Some of the souls you seek to save

The silver glints on darker days

Break through like truths through life’s old ways.

Dagger-sharp they could cut stone

Or break the heart of one alone

In this changed world from which has flown

an innocence

Always waiting to be known

What can we hear in this old well?

Rise up, where silenced voices dwell,

Rise up to listen to the swell -

These waters carved the depths of hell

They softened rocks and ground up shell

So no-one would suffer if they fell

And would in due course be carried home

With great wisdom in their bones,

Always waiting to be be known.

Always waiting to be known

Always waiting to be known…

47 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page