Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Voices are weird

You know what's weird? Human voices.

Most people can recognize other people's voices. They know who is calling by the sound of the voice; they often know or assume what gender the person is based on the vocal tone and pitch; they modify their voices on purpose to imitate each other; they speak in such a way that we can usually learn things about their emotions that we aren't being told in words. It's very interesting.

But one thing I've been thinking about lately is the relationship between our voices and our relatives.

I have a friend who says he and his father have almost the same voice. (And he hates it, because he hates his father.) My youngest sister used to be mistaken for my mother on the phone often when they lived together. And recently I heard a recording of myself that included me laughing, and it sounded a LOT like my grandmother's laugh. Which made me pretty sad because I haven't heard that sound in a long time.

As a young singer, I was of course always eager to compare myself to my grandmother vocally because I wanted to be a professional singer and she had had a Broadway career. But I didn't think our speaking voices were very similar, and I still don't; hers is pretty iconic. So it was weird when I heard the recording of my voice and I laughed at something and it sounded just like her. I think my aunt laughs like her too.

I wish she were fully present enough to laugh with us. But even though we can't have that, it's sort of comforting to know that that expression of merriment, in her way, is being carried forward.

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