Visualizing the Voice

Today’s post is my way of sharing a few free resources, as well as introducing you to voice acoustics.  In 2008, Diana Spradling at the University of Western Michigan had me sing into a computer program that analyzed the frequencies of my sound.  I know now this is called a Spectrum Analyzer.  The ability to see my voice on the screen had such a profound impact, that I felt paralyzed with awe for a hot minute.

Yesterday at one of my “Meet and Geek” classes, we used a Spectrum Analyzer to demonstrate how the voice produces a fundamental frequency as well as a series of overtones for each pitch.  The brain synthesizes all of these pitches into one tone, creating the perception of someone singing a single note.  By manipulating the overtones, strengthening and weakening them, the voice takes on different timbrel qualities.  To see this in real time, the folks at Sygyt Software offer a free version of their Analyzer that you can download here:

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SOVT for You and Me

There is an acronym whizzing through the ethers of the vocology cosmos causing some people to delight and others to raise their fists in the air.  Introducing: SOVT, which stands for semi-occluded vocal tract.  Voice nerds use it to describe vocal exercises, as in “SOVT exercises.”  You see it in scientific journals and hear it on the streets, depending who you hang out with.  It is an attempt to codify the language around voice, and for this reason I’m rather elated it exists.

This post stands as a tiny, little tutorial on SOVT and SOVT exercises.  Once you get the gist, you can identify any number of vocal exercises that employ its benefits.  I’ll list a few of the most common SOVT exercises, pin links to free resources that explain it, briefly describe a few of its incredible benefits, and list videos just in case you like your coffee pixilated.  (SOVT exercises are a sort of get-up-and-go drug, afterall.)

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Permission to Be Yourself

On the heels of writing about confidence, it seems fitting to address the concept of permission.  Specifically, permission to be yourself.  It seems to me the greatest artists and leaders have this one figured out.

I’m not sure if I read about this, or if it was an organic observation, but there are lots of people out there who are not asking anyone for permission to be themselves.  I know it in my gut when I see it.  And they are all gorgeous in their own ways.  I may not always agree with their values or opinions, but I do admire their ability to move freely about the cabin.  They are not secretly wondering if it’s okay to feel how they feel, or do what they do, or love what they love.  They have a very deep, inner sense that their compass is their compass, and have decided (consciously or unconsciously) that said compass is fundamentally okay.

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On Confidence

confidence (n.) [kon-fi-duh ns]

For those of you who don’t want to approach the subject of confidence, it’s too painful or too abstract, no worries.  You are sitting on a gift of great magnitude and fortune.

For those of you who have mastered confidence and are operating within it’s glorious, healthy boundaries, congratulations!  You are what we need more of in the world, and I cannot say thank you enough for how you bless the rest of us.

Although the exact subject of confidence has only been on my radar for a few years, it is something I know about intimately.  Mostly because I did not practice it as a child, and therefore walked into my young adulthood with an enormous desire to do good things, and not much self-esteem to back it up.  My first encounter with true confidence was through my brother who happened to be born with it in spades.  He just always knew who he was and what he wanted, and that mystified me and also enraged me.  I didn’t understand where it came from or how to get it.  And I didn’t even know what “it” was.

Looking back, I now see that having to learn confidence from the ground up was one of the greatest gifts life could have bestowed on me.  In fact, if you want to learn something, find someone who had to figure it out one little step at at time.

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