"Money was maliciously introduced in ancient times as a tool of enslavement" -
Michael Tellinger

"The present belongs to the future and future generations, and all old laws, religious and other, should be abrogated immediately. Free us!" - Vinay Gupta on Twitter

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminster Fuller

"You find the strangest ways to be positive!" - Diane Duane, Wizards Abroad

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Human Voice (book review)

Here's another really good book that I fear, despite my best efforts to recommend it, nobody ever heard of. This one's for Harriet, too, who is teaching me to use my own again after not singing for forty years! Singing in the chorus and loving it. (Review for SLJ)

The Human Voice: How This Extraordinary Instrument Reveals Essential Clues about Who We Are (2006) by Anne Karpf
Adult/High School
Karpf, a sociologist and BBC journalist, argues that although much attention has been paid lately to speaking styles, surprisingly little focus has been on the voice itself. Here, in lively prose, she goes a long way toward filling that gap.

The author discusses the mechanics of the sounds people make; what distinguishes human sounds from those of other animals; the effects of emotions on voices; cultural and gender differences; and how technology has been changing the ways we express ourselves. Hot current topics such as voiceprinting and the importance of voice in the workplace are addressed, as are the social effects of cell phones and musical experimentation on the new "audio-aware generation."

Karpf shines a clear light on Hitler's speaking style and shows how crowds were manipulated by it. Through analyses of Tony Blair and the American politicians Reagan, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and both Presidents Bush, she challenges readers to understand what they are really hearing in the voices of today's politicians-where, she asserts, the voice is no longer an instrument for argument, but for seduction.

This is fine popular-science writing, and it will leave readers with a fresh and useful perspective on an important aspect of life that might have been, until now, misunderstood or unquestioned.