No One Can Agree On What a Normal Voice Sounds Like

first_img Study: Be Careful How You Use the Word ‘The’Voynich manuscript: Nonsensical fraud, forgotten language, or secret code? A new study from the University of California, Los Angeles has debunked the idea of a “normal voice.”During this week’s Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), researcher Jody Kreiman presented her findings on voice perception and what it means for a voice to sound “normal.”“How you sound affects every aspect of your existence as a biological being,” she said in a statement published by the ASA. “Voice quality is your auditory face.”So a perceived abnormality—continued use of a high-pitched voice after puberty, breaks or interruptions in sentences, a foreign accent, hoarseness—can lead to negative judgments or even ridicule.But just because you don’t have the soothing timbre or Morgan Freeman or the raspy sexiness of Scarlett Johansson doesn’t mean you’re vocally handicapped.“When we started looking at the literature, everyone dodges the question of normalness,” Kreiman explained. “Clearly, a great deal depends on what we call ‘normal’ and not ‘normal.’”To determine those definitions, she asked volunteers to listen to voice recordings and order them based on perceived severity of vocal pathology.Each consisted of a one-second sustained vowel sound, produced by 100 female speakers. Half of the vocalizations came from clinical recordings of women with diagnosed voice abnormalities; the other half from UCLA students with no known vocal disorder.“We are not interested in cases where people have a very large abnormality,” Kreiman said. “We are more interested in borderline cases so we can begin defining a boundary between ‘normal’ and not ‘normal.’”One which does not, it seems, actually exist.Initial findings suggest that while listeners sometimes agreed on which voices sounded abnormal, they were not in assent over those that seemed “normal.”“What these results are really saying is that the current view that voice perception is just the voice signal, or the person speaking, or the person listening, is wrong,” Kreiman said. “We are dealing with a dynamic interaction between the speaker, the signal, the context, and the listener, and we have to understand how all these different parts go together to really understand voice.”Moving forward, Kreiman & Co. are studying a collection of male speakers to broaden the scope of the ongoing experiment. Stay on targetcenter_img Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more