Singing up the Helix Tree – voices of light and colour

One of my resolutions at the beginning of this year was to actively seek out more experiences that will feed my soul with inspiration and joy.

In order to create, one needs to fuel the creative well.

After my Christmas carol experience in December (Remembering Song), I joined a local community choir called, most appropriately, SoulSong. It’s an informal (and fluid) a cappella group of 20-40 singers, who meet once a week to simply celebrate the joy of singing. We sing gospel and folk and popular and blues and just about anything in between — so long as there are harmonies and we can make beautiful music.

It’s been very therapeutic for me this year, with everything else that’s been going on, and it’s made me a bunch of new friends as well.

helix tree

This week we participated in Melbourne’s ‘Light in Winter’ festival at Federation Square by Singing up the Helix Tree. The Helix Tree is a temporary construct fitted with hundreds of LEDs and a sophisticated system of microphones and electronics that causes the LEDs to light up in response to the pitch and volume of the human voice. (See this news article from The Age.)

The tree is located in the centre of a major public square, surrounded by restaurants and bars; for about half an hour by arrangement, about 20 of us SoulSongsters stood around it and sang, making the lights bloom and change colour.

We attracted a small audience, and although I’m not sure the sound carried all that well (we weren’t amplified), the onlookers were certainly treated to a spectacular light display. Because it was a casual performance, and the visual focus was on the tree (it being dark besides), I didn’t feel as though we were on show at all. It was more an organic merging of voice and light and beauty and was really quite magical.

I’ve come to the realisation this year that the true joy I gain from singing is from singing with other people. It’s not about my voice — which is competent but not spectacular, although I have reasonable pitch.

It’s about the blend of voices, the harmonies, the sharing of the experience. Sometimes after our weekly session is finished, a few of us will just stand around and keep going, practising a few harmonies or simply not ready to stop…

The pleasure of community or group singing — and especially up the Helix Tree — is my inspiration of the week. Any other singers out there?


19 thoughts on “Singing up the Helix Tree – voices of light and colour

  1. I bet that was beautiful! Wish there was a video ๐Ÿ™‚ Even the name ~ Singing up the Helix Tree ~ is inspiring and sounds magical.

    ..and I love to sing ~ it’s one of my favorite things to do.


  2. Can I ‘Super Like’ this? Does WordPress make a button for that?

    I love listening to a cappella singing groups. I would have totally enjoyed hearing you all sing and watching you light up the night with your voices. AWESOME.


  3. That’s so cool! I wonder if different styles of music change the color palate of the tree. Like, would something in a minor key bring up darker, more somber colors than something in a major key?
    Wish I could have seen it…


    1. It wouldn’t surprise me… I couldn’t get much of a sense of it, coz I was too focused on singing, but the colours were mostly blues for us, but there were moments it went red!


  4. This is precisely what I get out of singing–the collaborative result is incredible and a total joy. There is also a connectivity that happens between singers in this sort of exercise that is quite awe inspiring. It seems to be a form of communication that is super-efficient and rich; ideas are relayed in a way that other modes just don’t come near. I’m chuffed for you, I really am (and I’m sorry I didn’t make it on Tuesday).


  5. Sounds like a cool thing to do, Ellen. I think it’s important to pursue things that have nothing to do with writing and work and stuff. The tree sounds pretty awesome. Is there any video of it?


    1. I agree. It’s really important to experience all sorts of things. This can only validate procrastination, right? ๐Ÿ˜€
      For video, check out my Facebook page. There’s a short clip.


  6. This sounds amazing. And I’m sure the SOUND was amazing. Saw the little clip on your FB. A kind of magical thing to do on a winter night.
    I know what you mean about all the voices together. When I used to sing in church (not in choir, just out there in the pews) sometimes I had to stop singing because I got all choked up by the sound of the music.

    Good for you for finding an excellent way to fill the Creative Well.


  7. Sounds amazing x2! Love the photo. What a magical experience. Where is the 20 second video clip? I want to hear the singing…


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