Ordinary mortals generally accept what they’ve got, but let’s imagine that for some reason or other you wanted a different voice from the one you’ve been given. We know that it all comes from the vocal cords, and we also have a rough idea of how they work, but a quick surf of the internet leads to some really interesting discoveries: that rather than cords they are vocal folds; that there are a total of four but that only two speak; that the larynx is defined as a secondary ‘sexual’ organ; that our psyche influences our voice to the extent that there’s such a thing as ‘hysterical dysphonia’.
Still on the net, you’ll also come across psychological and/or scientific explanations as to why your voice has that particular timbre, and the various ways of altering it. If you aim to be a voice professional – actor, dubber, speaker, or even a salesperson, teacher, lawyer, politician, tourist operator, call centre operator or wedding planner – there are schools and courses (also online) for all requirements: vocality, diction, pronunciation and articulation, public speaking, acting, improvisation, mimicry, micromimicry, elimination of dialectal inflections, and seduction!
Even if we were just tired of our normal voice and decided to ‘repitch’ it, we would have to revise our way of doing that apparently most normal of things, breathing (no to ‘high’ clavicular breathing, yes to ‘low’ breathing), become aware of our diaphragm, and exploit to the full our cavities (oropharyngeal, cranial, tracheal).
But fear not, by means of an ad hoc course to “release the tensions that inhibit the voice and tone up the imagination, intellect and body so as to render the person open to the full expression of thoughts and emotions” we will be able to recover our ‘natural’ voice.
Two crazy English researchers, starting from a survey asking people which their favourite voices were (Jeremy Irons, Alan Rickman, BBC journalist Mariella Frostrup, and actress Dame Judy Dench), tried to find the formula of the perfect voice. The result, synthesized at the computer, came out as “a clean and comprehensible phrase, but with an indelible aftertaste of station announcement”.
The doubt remains: natural voice or ‘repitched’ voice?
I’d say every voice requires those nuances and imperfections that give it an identity and seductive power: Anna Magnani, Vittorio Gassman, Toto, Sophia Loren, Eduardo, among others. The mysterious balance of their voices is perhaps the most convincing answer to our question.
Beautiful and soulful.