Dr. Munawar Ahmed Malik
Voice is one amongst the countless blessings bestowed upon us, a personality attribute which is least acknowledged. Pitch, loudness, or phonatory qualities are some perceptions which differ significantly from persons of a similar age, gender, cultural background, racial and/or ethnic groups. The most severe forms of voice quality become a hurdle to function and achieve in society.The objective of this writing is to seek and touch upon the functional aspects of voice as they play a significant role towards career achievement of an individual.
Voice is a phonetic portrayal of a personality which attracts recognition, acceptance, and at times denial. Since speech is an integral component of communication, it needs to be addressed as such. Although selection of words, vocabulary, and accent has a significant role in persuasion, voice including its qualitative components has much more in it. Time and again we have heard public speakerswith vocal charisma successfully mesmerizing the audience to develop a faith and trust in them. For some however, this equation takes a tangle and lead to a failure in public, irrespective of the wisdom, experience and expertise they may carry.
Like any other part of the world, vocal abilities are acknowledged as an integral component of a successful personality. Our national language Urdu is an amalgamation of multiple languages that include melodic languages such as Arabic and Hindi, etc. Courtesy the intonation aspects of such languages listeners can readily relate and figure out the qualitative aspects of voice including pitch, resonance and loudness. The cultural bias of voice that prevails in our society includes hoarse and harsh voice with strength, while beauty and gender is linked with obvious physical features and a high pitched feminish voice, etc.
The anatomical differences of a human larynx in terms of size, position and hormonal changes marks a major difference in terms of high and low pitched voice. Besides all this understanding one can witness an unusual voice in a day to day situation whereby we come across girls with a masculine voice (low pitched) and males with a feminine voice (high pitched). This transgender voice effects the social aspects of the personality and cause severe impact on psychological wellbeing and role adaptation within society. In this general political arena, we can relate to people with unintelligible voices and people who are unable to useconvincing voice in public. There are some significant examples in our political representations where therespective political career is at stake. A layman would relate such vocal behaviors with yelling, mumbling, lack of unintelligibility, tremors, etc. As I reconnect I can relate such vocal behavior disorders in some seasoned politicians, who had to rely on other team players to make correspondences with media and public etc. Pakistani’s have witnessed telephonic public sermons which portrays some grizzly images of the speakers. Long distance calls, telephonic reverberations, and the poor voice system add to all this, making people wonder about the content and objectives of it. As our political doctrine unfolds, we have recently witnessed some loud speakers whom feel that they can be more convincing if they could tear apart their vocal apparatus without realizing the damage being caused to the listeners. Reading scripted material without practice, stress, punctuation, etc. makes them falter even further and create a negative image to the listeners. One such type is aggressive speakers who tend to get carried away as they speak. With ever increasing volumes, they tend to forget the use of microphone in front; instead they end up shattering them.
Dear readers, as a vocal therapist i have some recommendations in terms of vocal hygiene. In the following few paragraphs I have laid emphasis on a sensible use of your vocal skills while communicating, so you may make an efficient use ofthese abilities.
Your larynx is a voice box, very delicately engineered, which demands a lot more respect. People who have their bread and butter linked to it would certainly rate it as the prime contributor towards their living. Singers, receptionists, telephone operators, teachers, hawkers and politicians etc., are some immediate beneficiary of this vocal power and would agree that without it their endeavors would have been marginalized. Remember, occupations, characters and careers all demand a suitable vocal behavior which at times is more crucial than other attributes of personality, for example a police man with a feeble voice will certainly not be able to enforce upon others, and a nurse with loud hoarse voice will not make a good nurse, etc.
Firstly, respect your voice and be yourself. You are what you are; talking like others will not make you like them. All of us are born individuals and we should remain as such. Copying someone else’s vocal behavior will not make the audience feel good; however they would certainly point out where you strayed in the process of copying. If you are unintelligible, sort it out with professionals, and they can help you find the voice that is most efficient and suitable. At times minor positional changes in the larynx itself can be learnt for a better voice. Voice therapists are trained professionals to decide about convincing vocal behaviors that can benefit you. Remember, voice is a behavior like other behaviors. Seek professional support if you find any issues with voice. Some examples in this regard are, strong effort as you speak, voice breaks, vocal spasm, voice loss, voice fluctuations, talking in a noisy environment or a bigger audience, etc. At times the actual problem of vocal disorder lies within the environment, e.g. allergies with pets, carpets or some typical aromas, edibles etc. However, most of the time the etiology is linked to vocal abuse which can easily be avoided through minor adjustments in daily living styles.
If challenged in any way you may need to learn a new voice since you are in pursuit of a career, you better learn or you will have to make compromises all the way. Your physical identity can be augmented or distorted with your vocal identity.