I’ve always had an affinity for voices.
While many people draw desire from the aesthetics of others, I can’t help but feel forced to plead the case for aural beauty.
How is it that we can identify someone so specifically through the sound of their voice?
This concoction of tone, frequency, amplitude, waveform, pitch, volume and timbre are so unique that we can compare it to the concept of a fingerprint – no two are alike.
I’ve come to realise that it’s not just the sound of voice that is so enthralling – it’s the mannerisms as well. It’s in the distinctive style and habitual gestures of someone’s voice that makes it so unique. The way a person pronounces and articulates a word can be a clue about where they’ve come from, where they’ve been or who they want to be.
The process of speaking in itself can be endlessly alluring, the command of the tongue, smacking of the lips and force of breath.
In the deepest depths of your lungs, the speaking process begins, air begins to exhale, passes softly over your vocal chords, they react and create a deep vibration that builds quicker and quicker. Next comes the tension, we each have a certain amount of tension in our voice box that determines our pitch, our respiratory system then takes full control of frequency and volume, forcing out sound. Our mouth in it’s entirety is used to manipulate the sound that comes out – tongue, lips and teeth.
There I was, in a dimly lit room, full of people – waiting for one. I have an extreme case of astigmatism – and even in direct light, I struggle to see in front of me – let alone a hazy room, full of strangers. Then I heard him, a signifier that he had arrived. He called my name, in a way that only he did, I still couldn’t see him, but I knew he was there. I felt a hand on my shoulder behind me, and closed my eyes shut, he leant in and whispered in my ear “Hey trouble”.
With my eyes closed I heard my favourite author Nabokov in my head reciting the opening paragraph of Lolita “Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”
I heard the tap of his words, the T and L echoing in my head, imagining the way the sounds formed in his mouth – the cognition of his words and I was completely flawed.
This default modality for communication is far more complex than we give it credit for, far more mysterious and ultimately severely underestimated.