Let your voice decide who you are! | Sunday Observer

Let your voice decide who you are!

Voice can mean different things to different people. When you speak, your voice means the sounds you make or the ability to make those sounds. Sometimes you hear sweet voices of young girls and angry voices of frustrated adults. When it comes to singing, voice means the quality of sound you produce. Some people have a lovely singing voice. A piece of music can be written for six voices and the piano. Voice can also mean the right or ability to express an opinion, to vote, or to influence decisions. At election times, we hear different voices demanding our attention. Parents should have a voice in deciding how their children are educated. Similarly, the Government should listen to the voice of the down-trodden people. Whenever the Government tries to pass a controversial piece of legislation, there are bound to be dissenting voices.

People’s voices differ. When some people speak their voice is soft and gentle. Some elderly people have a deep voice. If you have a clear voice, it will ring out naturally. At the police station, a first-time offender will speak in a small or trembling voice.

One day I met an Indian girl at the Chennai Airport speaking in a sing-song voice. By the way, voice is something wonderful. You can raise your voice when you are angry. When you are with your loved ones, you lower your voice. When you wish to tell a secret, you keep your voice down. If you address a number of election rallies, you are likely to lose your voice. A boy’s voice breaks or becomes deep when he becomes a man.

To the musician, the human voice is a musical instrument of incomparable sweetness, delicacy and emotional power. When you attend an interview, your voice is a prime indicator of your personality and character. In a telephone conversation, your voice can reveal your sex, age, educational level, and even emotional health. There may be certain exceptional situations. One day I telephoned the chairman of a well-known business organization. When a woman answered I told her that I wished to talk to the chairman. Then she said she was the chairman. When I said, “I heard a female voice,” he said he had a feminine voice!

Miracle

What goes to make someone’s voice? Voice is shaped by the intricate manipulation of air as it rises from your lungs to your lips. However, the key to the miracle of voice lies in the ‘voice box’ – the larynx or Adam’s apple- located on your windpipe. The vocal cords are shorter and narrower than a paper clip. But these tiny structures produce voice to express your love, help you to sing a song, deliver a speech or talk like Winston Churchill.

According to expert opinion, the human voice is more like a wind instrument than a string instrument. The vocal cords are really not cords. They are miniature lips operating behind your Adam’s apple.

When you speak or sing, you stretch or shorten your vocal cords by an intricate arrangement of laryngeal muscles. Human voices produce sounds pitched all the way from 40 vibrations per second when you speak in a deep voice.

Most of us do not know the full strength and expressiveness of our own voices. When you are taught to speak or sing in a particular way, you may be robbing your capacity to explore the range, beauty and power of your voice. The muscular adjustments by which we control our voice are lightning-quick and computer-precise. The process by which we translate our brain’s mental images into audible muscular gestures of the vocal tract is highly complicated. According to psychologists, voice is faster than conscious thought. According to Daniel Goleman, the tone of voice is similar to your face. Like the face, the voice can send many nuances of meaning very easily and people can readily control their tone of voice. However, because of the acoustics of the skull, the voice we hear when we speak does not sound the same to our listeners. For this reason, the Rosenthal group rated the tone of voice as more revealing than the body in the hierarchy of clues to lie-detection.

Like all wind instruments, voice needs three components. They are an air source (lungs), a vibrator (vocal cords), and a hollow resonating space (the mouth). The tongue, lips, teeth, and soft palate shape the vocal sound into words. Each sound wave reverberates in the hollow resonator, multiplying into a chord-like overtone pattern called ‘timbre’ or ‘quality.’ The unique individual size and shape of your resonator make your voice distinctively your own. According to authoritative sources, nobody has invented a musical instrument to match the ingenious flexibility of the human vocal tract. The resonator can be shortened, narrowed, and even divided in two by humping the tongue. What is more, humans are capable of producing hundreds of different phonetic sounds.

Vocal cords

From our babyhood we learn how to use our own vocal cords with speed and precision. However, very young children use the language as they wish. Any attempt to correct them would be a useless exercise. Look at the following dialogue between a child and his father:

Child: Want other one spoon, daddy.

Father: You mean you want the other spoon.

Child: Want other one spoon, please.

Father: Can you say ‘the other spoon?’

Child: Other one spoon.

Father: Say ‘other.’

Child: Other.

Father: ‘Spoon.’

Child: Spoon.

Father: ‘Other spoon.’

Child: Other spoon. Now give me other one spoon.

When a newborn baby cries, vowels are discernible. Many experts think the consonant ‘m’ is derived from the lip movement of suckling and hence the sound ‘mama.’ Most children imitate the sounds they hear. As far as adults are concerned, thought is a kind of inner speech and when you think of a word, your vocal cords often move into position to pronounce it. However, babies take a long time to think of words and speak. Therefore, their vocabulary remains limited.

Voice training

Those who do music and take part in plays go for voice training. An average untrained voice can produce about 25 different half notes of rising pitch. If you sing the lowest note, you can raise your voice pitch to the eighth tone.

Exercising the voice-producing parts of the body, practising correct methods of expression, and being aware of faults can bring about a noticeable improvement in the voice. Language experts have given guidelines to improve your voice. Some of them can be summarized as follows:

· Speak clearly so that everyone can hear you easily

· Overcome shyness

· Speak with greater force than has been your custom

· Reading aloud, singing and cheering will condition the voice mechanism

· Pronounce words correctly

Your voice will decide who you are!

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