Monday, October 10, 2005

What's the timbre of your cant?

This is a significant question for me. I realize now it always has been. I just didn't have presence of mind to make the connections. I've known that I was a very "aural" person. I use my sense of hearing and audio clues and the background sound is very important to me. I not only remember names (maybe not so much lately) but the sound they make and how they are said. Tone of voice, speaking or singing moves me. I'm really into "mood" music in movies etc. I can listen to someone's voice, intonations, and "timbre" and immediately tell how they are feeling and what the "want". I thought everyone could to a certain degree. It is a "given" in choral music and singing with others. You have to listen and "blend" in to your vocal part and balance with the other parts or else you "stick out" and sound strident...a big no no. You sing with your ears.

Timbre (tam' ber, tim) can be pronounced two different ways with the short a or short i in the first syllable and the schwa sound in the second. It is the quality of sound that distinguishes it from others of the same pitch or volume.

Cant \KANT\, is a noun:
1. The idioms and peculiarities fo speech in any sect, class, or occupation; jargon
2. The use of pious words without sincerity.
3. Empty, solemn speech, implying what is not felt; insincere talk; hypocrisy.
4. A whining manner of speaking, especially of beggars.
It is ultimately derived from Latin cantus, "singing, chanting".

Of course, you can't really hear your own voice as others hear it. I have a technique from singing rehearsals where you put one hand cupped over one ear when you sing. You can then "kind of" hear yourself and how it sounds with other voices. It may also work for talking. I've been told many times that I was "using my teacher's voice" and I know what they really meant was that I was a bit too bossy. It comes through with the "timbre". I can still slip into that mode without even knowing it I guess...especially when I am explaining something to a "buyer" or "customer" about their future home. Sometimes it is by design.

On the phone, at the office, I purposefully try to sound "up" "enthusiastic" and "younger" with my voice "timbre" "It's a beautiful day at Carina! This is Bob, how can I help you?" It ellicits lots of different responses. I try not to have it sound like a "cant"..."recording"...insincere etc.
It may come off that way to some. I recently listened to our new "temp" hostess greet and deal with the hordes of prospective buyers that come through our office on the weekends. She was very "warm" caring and inviting in her voice; and it sounded sincere at first. There's a tendancy to talk too much and not ask questions and listen to their responses to find out what they need and why they are really looking at models of new homes now. I then am tempted to step in and convey our interest in them and their needs, primarily through my voice "timbre" first and my questions.

I can immediately tell where I stand with my wife and her voice "timbre" as we continue to live together now for more than 43 years. Tone of voice, or lack of it, is the first clue that "I'm on her fine! list again. It doesn't take much. I have to be so careful. So it isn't the words, it's the tone of voice and the "timbre" or quality of caring conveyed in that voice...sometimes it is lack of volume too. I suppose my voice changes then her. We rarely, if ever raise our voices at each other. This may be one of the secrets to our marriage ie. a real sensitivity to each other's feelings and a deep wish not to hurt them.

What is interesting to me is that the root of the word "cant" from the Latin/Spanish (Canto= I sing) is neutral or very positive...whereas the definitions above are more negative (4 out of 5). And yet, in the synagogs, the "Canter" is one of the main "ministers" who sings the "word" all in a positive way. The one "Bar Mitzvah" I went to, a former student, his part was sung. It may help the memorization or pronunciation. It is very sincere but in a "sing-songy" way.

I think speed of delivery has something to do with it to. There is definitely a different "timber" and "cant" to those who "speed talk" in a very unrhythmic way. They are really hard to understand on the phone, no non-verbal clues. I currently know one of those kind of talkers and, believe me, they are a challenge. "Say again...?" I can't hear you. meaning...your "vibrations are not in-sync with my perceived vibrations" Then more of an effort has to be made by the receiver than the sender.

Then there is the challenge of listening/speaking to someone who has a hearing or speech disability. You can visibly see both trying harder to make that connection. Your "timbre" has alot to do with what you hear yourself saying as well as your mood and your apparatus to make and receive the required sounds.

Good, good, good vibrations...are so important. Bob


At 11:10 AM, Blogger BOB! Your Life Preserver said...

...and the beginning of a Beach Boys song.


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