DIY 15: 2018 - Rhiannon Armstrong & Rachel Mars: Ugly Singing

“Ugh, that sounds weird: do it more!”

Deadline for applications: 5pm, Mon 18 June
This DIY is supported by Snape Maltings

Project summary

Ugly Singing is a three-day workshop occupying “one of the world’s leading centres of music” where we will lean into the rough, the raucous and the untraditionally beautiful capabilities of the human voice.

We will:

  • explore our own and each other’s use of voice, our habits and hangups.
  • undergo vocal training and ‘re-wilding’ the voice to help us break free from the performance of acceptability.
  • take up space in public with collective displays of Inappropriate Vocal Behaviour.

There has been a lot of research into how we make alterations of conduct, embodiment and physicality to answer to certain pressures of the performance of ‘correct’ ‘normative’ identities, be they of gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity etc. Have we also subtly altered and performed our voices in reaction to expectations of normativity?

Rachel and Rhiannon met when collaborating on a series of projects involving voice and singing. We feel that we have become accustomed to using our voices in a certain way in daily life (and most performance contexts). There are a host of unexplored ways that our voices can be used which we historically shy away from because of certain expectations including those of beauty, tone and appropriateness. This DIY will explore the possibilities for uglier use of voice in a group of equally interested artists.

Listen to an audio version of this information

How to apply

This DIY is intended for people who use their voice in performance.

In particular we are interested in hearing from people who feel constrained by the kind of performance of voice they feel compelled to make in the world – be that because of gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity or expectation from other identities.


It might be for those who use their voice in performance but have never had any formal training.
It might also be for those who have had formal training but feel that they are hampered by it, or stuck in a rut of suitability and want to try something different.
It can be for performers, singers, monologists, public speakers, street hawkers, broadcasters, or anyone who ever has to speak on a stage or in front of others.

We’d like you to be a few years into your practice, with some habits you are interested in breaking.

The online application asks about the qualities of your voice, what has made your voice sound the way it does, how your voice has surprised you, what you wish was achievable for your voice, and whose voice (spoken or singing) moves you most.


Dates, times and location

Dates: Fri 31 Aug - Sun 2 Sep 2018
Location: Snape Maltings, Suffolk

We have some budget to go towards accommodation and food, although we know we won’t be able to cover it all. We will do what we can to help you source affordable accommodation if you need it: from our research so far we think it’s a good idea to budget £40/night.

The artists

Rachel Mars and Rhiannon Armstrong are investigating untrained voice work and ‘inappropriate’ behaviour as a rich creative seam. Rhiannon and Rachel first worked in depth together creating the award-winning performance Our Carnal Hearts: a raw performance on the subject of envy, soundtracked throughout by a capella voices.

Rhiannon is an expert in getting-away with technically unsanctioned but not necessarily illegal behaviour in public spaces, and Rachel’s work explores what social behaviours are sanctioned or not and why.

For questions about this DIY, please contact Rachel.

Part of DIY 15: 2018 - Call for Participants