‘We live in loud times’ – a vocal call to listen

Volume, pace and pitch summon whole worlds. Intonation is a language in itself. The American philosopher and wit, Sidney Morgenbesser, was in the audience at a lecture given by the American philosopher J.L. Austin at Colombia University in the 1950s. When Austin explained that many languages employ the double negative to denote a positive (‘He is not unlike his sister’), but none employed a double positive to make a negative, Morgenbesser waved his arm dismissively, and retorted: ‘Yeah, yeah.’

With the blast and blare of cinemas, restaurants, concerts, computer games and TV commercials,

– add to these the hydraulic waste-collection truck and the carpenter’s screaming, electric blade saw outside my window as I write –

we live in loud times. A recent study by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds suggested that birds that live near motorways can’t hear each other, leading to difficulties in learning songs and communicating with potential mates. Another study found that 5-year old children who attended nursery developed more voice problems that those who didn’t because of the high noise levels and unsympathetic acoustic environment. What’s the effect on humans when voices are submerged by the din? And how can we create an acoustic space in which this suggestive but perpetually elusive instrument, the human voice, can flourish?

To attune properly to the voice we must develop a keener sensitivity, a ‘deep listening’. To start a real conversation about this most vital talent, we need to hear with fresh ears.

– from Anne Karpf’s The Human Voice (pp.290-1)


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One Response to “‘We live in loud times’ – a vocal call to listen”

  1. Singing Blog Feeds » Blog Archive » ‘We live in loud times’ - a vocal call to listen Says:

    […] You can read the rest of this blog post by going to the original source, here […]

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