Profound Wisdom from Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan

Over the next several days I will be sharing the profound wisdom of Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927). Khan was the founder of The Sufi Order in the West in 1914 (London) and teacher of Universal Sufism. He initially came to the West as a Northern Indian classical musician. His message of divine unity focused on the themes of love, harmony and beauty.

It is startling to find in his writing – from nearly a hundred years past – such breadth of wisdom for the modern singer and teacher of voice. I know that I will be coming back to his writing consistently to ‘reset’ my views and values of the singing voice.

When we come to singing it is quite different, because today the art of singing has become as artificial as can be. The whole idea is to train the voice and make it different from what it is naturally. The training of the voice does not develop what is natural in it, it mostly brings into it something which is not natural to it. Therefore when a person sings according to the method of the day he has a different voice. It is not his voice, it is not his character. He may have a great success, he may be audible to thousands of people, but at the same time he is not singing in his natural voice. You cannot see his stage of evolution in his voice. Therefore the real character of the person is to be seen in his speaking voice.

Khan, Hazrat Inayat. The Mysticism of Sound and Music: Revised Edition. Shambhala Publications. 2014.

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