From auctions to lullabies: how and where the human voice "works"

    The expressiveness of the human voice is unique. It allows people to share information, affects our emotions, can be a source of tension or relaxation and can be a “musical instrument”. Today we talk about how the voice is used in various situations and affects our mood and actions.

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    Quick speech

    Speaking speed varies in the range between 120 - 200 words per minute. Studies show that this indicator varies depending on the speaker’s culture, geographic location, gender, emotional state or audience of listeners.

    The speed of pronunciation can also depend on the profession. For example, commentators and auctioneers train to speak quickly: in the range of 250 to 400 words per minute. Among auctioneers, there are even special competitions that evaluate the speed and manner of recitative . Below is an example of a performance from the World Cattle Sales Championship, which was held in 2015.

    Auctioneers' recitation is also called auction chant. This style allows you to sell lots quickly, as well as maintain an atmosphere of urgency and excitement among buyers. German director Werner Herzog (Werner Herzog) dedicated an entire documentary to this phenomenon called (in Russian translation) “Notes on a new language” .

    Another example of fast-speaking people is representatives of hip-hop culture. The composition of Eminem Rap God in 2013 entered the Guinness Book of Records as a song with the highest number of words - 1560 in six minutes and four seconds. Eminem’s average pronunciation speed is 4.28 words per second. In 2017, this record was brokenMC Harry Shotta, who in the song Animal utters 1,771 words in 6 minutes and 9 seconds.

    The ability to quickly pronounce words is used by participants in competitive debates. In American schools, students argue on topical issues, citing various facts and arguments in their favor. Judging gives preference to those who managed to present a greater number of arguments in defense of their point of view. However, this approach led to the emergence of spreading (the name comes from the term speed reading - speed reading). Competitors try to speak as quickly as possible, and their main task is to "fill up" their opponents with arguments that they simply do not have time to answer.

    Remedy for insomnia

    The ability of the voice to soothe and tune a person to sleep is used in lullabies for many millennia. However, lullabies not only affect our emotional state. Scientists have proven the ability of lullabies to reduce the heart rate and respiration in premature babies. In the experiment , conducted with the participation of 37 children at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, lullabies turned out to be more effective than reading a book or just silence.

    The human voice can also be a cure for insomnia. Neuropsychologists are actively studying the phenomenon of perception called ASMR(Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response - Autonomous sensory meridional response). This term refers to the phenomenon of tingling sensations in the back of the head, in response to a number of audiovisual triggers, such as whispering, slow soft speech, breathing into a microphone, etc. According to some listeners, for them this practice acts as a remedy for insomnia, anxiety and panic attacks. The results of the study show that ASMR can have a therapeutic effect on human health.

    Another example of using voice to fall asleep is a podcast.Sleep With Me. Its author and presenter Drew Ackerman (Drew Ackerman) calmly talks about TV shows and books, and also brings stories from his life. A special feature of the podcast is that all the stories are chaotic. This is just a flow of information without a specific structure, therefore, listening to the release, it is not necessary to be focused on the plot and you can easily fall asleep. On average, one episode of the podcast from Drew takes from 15 to 20 hours of work. Apparently, this format really helps a lot of insomnia - the project was given positive ratings in Buzzfeed, The New Yorker, and others. Below you can listen to an excerpt from one of the episodes:

    Infectious laughter

    According to a study by scientists from Imperial College London, “positive” sounds are more infectious than “negative” sounds. Scientists followed the reaction in the premotor region of the brain in a group of subjects who were in the MRI apparatus and listened to different sounds. It turned out that people reacted much more to the sound of applause and laughter than to crying or crying. It is on this phenomenon that the practice of inserting voice-over laughter into sitcoms and comedy shows is based (although it is unlikely that their creators conducted scientific studies to substantiate this technique).

    One example is the duo of brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi and their radio shows.Car talk Although the show was devoted mainly to cars and their repair, most of the time the brothers simply laughed at themselves and their gear. Here is a fragment of one of the episodes:

    The Car Talk show existed from 1977 to 2012, and many radio broadcasts continued to turn its records even after closing.

    Photo of The Zender Agenda CC

    Singing voice

    In one of our reviews, we wrote about the unusual ability of Charles Kellogg to imitate the singing of birds: the range of his voice was 12 and a half octaves. Among modern pop singers there are also examples of a wide vocal range. For example, the singer Mariah Carey vocal range is 5 octaves and 2 notes. Carey is one of the few who successfully sings in the so-called whistle register . Here is an example of one of her speeches:

    The whistling register is the highest register of human vocals, and only a few performers are able to use it in singing. Whistling register also own, for example, Christina Aguilera and Ariana Grande. Of the men, Australian pop singer Adam Lopez (Adam Lopez) was able to take the highest note while singing, while hitting the Guinness Book of Records.

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