“the voice is a natural reporter of the conditions, emotions, thoughts, and purposes (character and states or conditions) of the individual.” – ‘Expressive Voice Culture’ by Jessie Eldridge Southwick, (1908)
“I heard my parents’ voices against my ear or inside my heart, where you will, but very close. And all the other voices followed the same course. It is comparatively easy to protect ourselves from a face we dislike; sufficient to keep it at a distance, to leave it in the world outside. But only try the same thing with voices, you will never manage it!” – Jacques Lusseyran “And Then There Was Light”
When we look at someone, we essentially see reflections of light bouncing off the surfaces of their body, if we don’t like what we see, we can simply turn away or close our eyes. Seeing is more an active process of reaching (looking) out.
But, in vibrant contrast to looking, when we hear someone speak, our entire body literally vibrates in resonance to the sounds emanating from their voice.
We usually think of hearing as only associated with the ear and eardrum – but in actuality, the entire body is an ‘ear’, we can feel sound, sound literally moves us.
Laurel Elizabeth Keyes, the author of the classic text ‘Toning’ succinctly expresses this principle as
“Sound Moves Matter”
The voice originates from deep within the body of the speaker and it arrives and penetrates into the head and body of the listener.
“The human voice forces its way into us. It is really inside ourselves that we hear it. To hear it properly we must allow it to vibrate in our heads and our chests, in our throats as if, for the moment, it really belonged to us. That is surely the reason why voices never deceive us.” – And There Was Light: Autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, Blind Hero of the French Resistance
The vibrations from the speaker’s voice cause the listener’s body to resonate (entrain) in sympathy with the utterances of the speaker.
“Entrainment is the ability of a strong rhythmic vibration of one object to change the less powerful vibration of another object and cause them to synchronize their vibration. Entrainment is universal in nature. It is the tendency of everything to vibrate in harmony.” – Katherine Scott
This is one of the key reasons why voices have the capacity to ‘move us’ to be so incredibly powerful, and yet so deeply intimate.