Finding my Voice (continuing story)
by phil on Wednesday Dec 31, 2003 2:39 AM
I've mentioned earlier that I'm trying to find a voice that is most natural to me (this involves my pitch, accent, rhythm, cadence, and timbre when speaking).
Unfortunately I have a mild cold virus so I can't spend hours reading nice prose outloud to synchronize myself. However, I have had opportunities to test it out around people. I also spent some time weighing the costs and benefits to what I'm doing.
In my cost-benefit analysis, I saw that the costs would be that for the remainder of the school year, people who knew me, but weren't my close friends, would think I'm weird. The benefits, short and long term would be that I would be in my most natural voice and that it'd be something interesting for me to do. I figured it was worth it, even the accent change. This was my initial analysis.
In practice, this is what happened...
Keeping my new voice up was actually hard--which is counter-intuitive because it's supposed to be "natural." When I'd spend time with friends, initally I'd remind myself to be as natural sounding as possible, and I would start with my lower voice and my non-regional accent. However, before I'd let the first peep out, my fear of looking silly would creep in and I'd abandon my accent. My voice would also be halfway between my natural lower voice and my old higher voice.
I could then consciously push myself to my natural voice, but then I'd regress to habit every so often. I practiced so much, though, that I don't think I'd ever fully regressed into my old voice.
So, is my natural voice then my older one or is my new voice my natural one? I'd say that my newer one is the natural one. These early experiments that show me speaking otherwise shouldn't be evidence against it. There can be a distinction between what is habitual and what is natural. And since I'm earnest in private to speak as natural as possible, I think this is a case of habitual v. natural.
From about three long sessions with friends, so far nobody has noticed any change.
I'd attribute this to the limited resolution of voices in memory. If my deviation from what they're used to hearing me as is not that big, then it will pass through them unnoticed. Subconsciously they'll assume that I'm either sick (which I am), that the environment is different, and/or that their memory wasn't as good as they thought it was.
This affects my cost-benefit analysis because I can ease myself into my new natural voice. My voice will change gradually to my natural one over time, and people won't notice the difference. As a result, people won't think I'm weird.
I lose the benefit of having a rapid shock to my voice. But negative attention for stunts like this are the kind of thing I'm trying to avoid. Plus the "coolness" of pulling it off like that should be overrated. In reality, the presiding benefits are being truly natural in my voice and doing something unique.
When I recover from my cold, I'll do more practicing. With school coming back into session, I'll have more opportunity to get in gear in public. And voila, there I'll be, new voice and all.K