What is PASSAGGIO? 

Passaggio the Bridge of Vocal Integration.

I fell in love with the term Passaggio when I first heard it. The very sound of the word seemed to evoke images of a mythical adventure with subtle undertones of danger and mystery. It brought to mind Joseph Campbell’s idea, “The Heroes Journey”, where all kinds of trials and obstacles await the traveller who better have his wits about him.
 
Passaggio is an Italian word used in voice training, meaning  Bridge or Passage. One of the goals in singing is to unify the two main registers of the voice, chest-voice and head-voice. Some folks can sing well in head and others in chest, but it’s in the crossing over between them where the difficulty--and the beauty--lies.  Blending the two registers brings about an extraordinary beauty to the voice. The chest-voice is strong, excitingly resonance, while the head-voice has an ethereal ease which is very relaxing. Vocal integration requires that both voices unite in a seeming impossible marriage: Remaining  with the robust strength of the chest-voice while embracing the sweet ease of the head-voice, both are united in single voice register which carries a sonorous richness that a voice totally committed to only the head or chest registers can’t hold alone. A poetic aside here is to note that Passaggio aims to integrate what seems to be two separate voices into one voice and another word for one voice is Universe! It’s easy to see why Passaggio is a pretty awesome metaphor for Personal Integration.

Won’t you build a bridge for me from Here to There
Make the crossbeams out of compassion for both sides
Span the arches with love and understanding
And when it’s built and it stands tall and strong  
Silhouetted in The Twilight between Worlds
Help me to cross without leaving Here or going There

 
One of the principles of Passaggio is that we don't have to leave where we are to get to where we want to go. This is the stunning paradox that springs from the fact that we, in our essence, are already where we want be. When we get a tiny glimpse of that which we truly are, all the conflicting aspects of our nature and lives begins to integrate--like the voice registers--into one unified whole. 
 
Passaggio the Bridge of Personal Integration

It’s been said by many sages and mystics that there are two main seeming oppositional forces in this world: They manifest in endless forms as Contraction/Expansion, Darkness/Light, Gravity/Levity, Love/Hate, Inner/Outer, Yin/Yang, and so on. These forces are natural and necessary but in most of us they fight against each other. Most if not all conflict in human history has been because these opposing forces are not seen as COMPLIMENTARY. But now, the human brain and mind has evolved to such a state that we can begin, maybe for the first time in history, to understand, reconcile and transmute them. Notice I didn’t say transcend them. It is unification not transcendence that is needed. But these terms are merely signposts. The unification itself takes place in the realm of pure sentience which is preverbal. It begins with first feeling then allowing the energies of our body/mind to equilibrate. Although it is difficult to talk about this it is relatively easy to feel it.
 
We carry the ability  to facilitate this union within us and the nature of the unifying movement is compassion. The term compassion means common-passion and so the word points to the fundamental connectedness of every single thing in the universe. Even the most contradictory and opposing of energies are connected by the bridge of the soul.  We can start to feel that connection in our bodies and hearts. When we feel this energy of unification we realize that we have been a mite silly in our actions and very mistaken in our thinking. But the nature of this realization is such that it carries no blame and hence one feels no guilt. It is simply a practical understanding similar to realizing  one has taken a wrong turn on a highway and needs to correct it to get back on track. Another principle of Passaggio is that we don't have to destroy the old to embrace the new nor knock down the first floor to get to the second. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m trying to coin a new term with my use of the word Passaggio. But it’s quite an ancient term although my use of it may be novel. I wanted to find a word which was not well known but which in itself, in the sound and the reading of it, captured something of the union between spirit and matter, mind and body and all things which need integration. As I use the term, it has many layers, implications and applications. But initially it is the bridge to your very own Self: The turning within to Consciousness, to one’s vital Presence.

But a bridge goes both ways—at the same time! And so Passaggio is also a simultaneous returning to the outer world, bringing the understandings and insights from the inner. It's a little like alternating current which reverses its direction many times a second. In Passaggio, as I teach it, the nature of this current is love and compassion. Without compassion to ease this movement between outer and inner, there is friction, judgment and frustration. Compassion is the grease which oils the wheels of conscious evolution.We are always in transition of one kind or another and often this brings much stress. Passaggio is finding the joy of movement--which is the fundamental energy of existence--instead of resisting that movement. It's the understanding that even amidst the most tumultuous change there is something changeless within us. 


Another aspect of Passaggio is the bridge between our personal and impersonal relationship with our Source or the universe. A discriminating mind may balk at the idea of a personal God and that is understandable considering the trouble religion has brought to humanity. But even the most scientific of us evoke an irrational personal relationship with all kinds of things like traffic, weather, the stock market. "Please don't let it rain today." Or; "Please don't let this traffic jam make me late for work." So a little personification of things may be good for us. It's not a matter of accuracy but more about bridging the warmth of our humanity with the seeming coldness of universe at large. This is the forgiving latitude of poetry which needs to enter our relationship with language.

 
I know my reaching for You is silly
For You are within my very reaching
The heart that yearns inside me
Is none but You
This tender reaching for the unreachable
Is something I affect 
Only because I know You can’t resist
A nice game of hide and seek


 
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