Whispirators — In praise of whispers

The popularity of whisper videos (e.g. ASMR videos) demonstrates the longstanding fascination we humans have with the voice. Steven Connor has written extensively on the cultures of the voice. He says in his book Beyond Words: Sobs, Hums, Stutters and Other Vocalizations. “The whisper signifies intimacy and secrecy. It is the mode in which I…More

The pleasures of the mouth

The soft human voice signifies comfort. Some would say that parental cooing and burbling sends babies to sleep. That affinity with the voice persists into later life. Thanks to telephones and mobile phones, the voice-in-your-ear is ubiquitous in contemporary life — compounding opportunities for the voice to do its work. The soft voice, breath, the…More

A word in your ear: Podcasting for introverts

Who would deny that a whisper excites the senses. People are accustomed to music listening via headsets. The speaking voice at intimate proximity surpasses even musical affect. In any case, the voice is immediate, close, of the moment, embodied, and active. Sounds envelop, as if clouds, with the voice, or certain voices, breaking like a…More

Voices without bodies

Question to Siri: “What’s The Wizard of Oz about?” Siri: “It’s about some Dorothy, her intelligent assistants, and her little dog too. Some are not so intelligent, I guess.” The development of speech recognition and speech synthesis on smartphones (eg Siri) brings to mind how important the voice is in helping people feel engaged, at least…More

Haunted by media

This is Dying Matters Awareness Week in the UK. We are a “death denying” society inept at dealing with bereavement, planning for the end of life, and making arrangements for after we are gone. On the other hand, thanks to television, films, video games and the Internet, we confront our mortality every waking moment of…More

The king’s speech impediment

Tom Hooper’s film The King’s Speech demonstrates the vital importance of the human voice in establishing and maintaining power. If you can’t get the words out then you will never assert authority.More