[slideshow]Òrain Ghàidhlig  (I am a fish jumping upstream)

The week after the singing class here at Sabhal Mor Ostaig I am still thinking about how unfamiliar this way of learning was for me. One singer told how when she had first begun to learn Gaelic singing she felt as though she had a ‘thick tongue’ and I recognise this sensation in my own mouth. I can make motions towards the creative similarities between singing and drawing because of the direct nature of their emergence from our bodies, but the primary difference for myself is the very public nature of the mark I make with my voice rather than with my hand. Most of the time I carry my voice within me and my thoughts are expressed by my drawing. I choose what to show to others. But in this room with the other singers I listen to this voice that is mine and yet not mine and I do not recognise the sound I make. My voice is too loud and at the same time not loud enough, my voice is too quiet and yet not quiet enough, my voice is too high, it is too low and so on. Everyone can hear. This is my own perception of my voice and I am relieved that I know when I am not in tune. Our teacher is Christine Primrose. She is quick and dark and intense, she is precise and clear and gentle, she is droll, she listens and she hears. Her own voice is achingly pure and beautiful, her own voice is delicate and is strong, her own voice is young and ancient at the same time. Her own voice calls into the past and speaks into the future – and in the now of us hearing her sing the songs the passing of time is suspended. We are here and we are not here, we are out on the sea and we are out on the hillsides and we are waiting for our loved ones who are gone.