Chocolatey, grating, whiny, mellifluous, soaring. The quality of a voice can move us to tears, hysterics, or rouse us into action.
A voice transmits masses of data about the body of the person speaking. The shape and position of their skeletal structure, the shape of the different spaces in their skulls, the state of tension of their muscles. As listeners we take most of this data in subconsciously, and it has a huge impact on how we hear the speaker’s message.
Why do people’s voices affect us so much?
In fact there’s nothing mysterious about it. When we speak, we generate sound vibrations, which resonate off the bony surfaces in our bodies. They are transmitted through the air to the listener’s eardrum, which vibrates accordingly. It’s a direct physical impact. Is it any wonder such a close, intimate connection elicits strong responses? Any wonder it can (literally) move us into action or reaction? Our job as speakers is to raise both our awareness of, and respect for, that impact.
Groundbreaking new research from the Neils Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen even suggests that the impulses that travel along the neurones in the brain are actually very similar to sound waves, rather than electrical impulses as was universally accepted till now.
It’s way too early, and too great a leap, to say that this is all evidence that sound vibrations constitute the very ‘rhythm of life’, and yet…
Maybe there’s something in that.
Maybe the way the body talks to itself, connects with and moves itself, is somehow fundamentally grounded in sound, as is the way we speak to, connect with, and move each other.