Listen to Me

I was listening to a video made by some friends of mine, and I started wondering what my voice would sound like recorded. And of course since it’s late and I’m tired and I have a lot of work to do, I immediately started playing around and created an MP3. And then I figured out how to upload an audio file on WordPress, which required paying $19.99 for 5 GB of space, which seemed like a pretty good deal. And then I uploaded the audio file.

Here it is, an audio file of me reading the blog post I uploaded earlier today, “Thoughts on Love”:

Thoughts on Love Audio

It’s only my first attempt, and I made some mistakes. For example, the first time I tried to record something, I did not use a mic, so there was a lot of background static. I erased that recording, but the second time, when I did use a mic, I adjusted my voice based on the first recording. So I think that in the second recording, which is the one above, there is too much emphasis. In places, I don’t sound quite natural.

The next time I do this, and I’m sure there will be a next time now that I’ve learned how, I’ll read more naturally, with less emphasis. But honestly, I’m fairly pleased with the recording. I think I sound all right. It’s obvious that I’ve been trained to read out loud โ€“ and that’s true, I have been. In high school, I participated in speech competitions, was the captain of the debate team, and hung out with the drama crowd. I was the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. In college, I was president of the Washington Literary Society and Debating Union. It’s also obvious that I don’t have aย  trained voice. A professional actor would do much better, I’m sure. But I like my voice well enough, I’m comfortable enough with how the recording came out, that I’ll certainly post more.

I do notice one thing that is interesting to me โ€“ and rather strange. I recognize my cadences. They are the cadences of an Episcopal minister speaking from the pulpit. I haven’t been to that many church services, although when I used to go it was always to the Episcopal church. (Although I’m a devout pantheist by nature.) But somehow I must have internalized those cadences. Somehow they must have crept into my reading voice and made themselves at home there.

What will you think of this recording? I have no idea, but feel free to tell me of course.

Next stop, music videos. (All right, maybe not. I’m not Loreena McKennitt. Although I’m having so much fun that I’m sure I’ll think of something else to do.)

Anyway, I hope you like the recording. This is what I sound like. Really!

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10 Responses to Listen to Me

  1. Emily Gilman says:

    Yeah… we’re doing podcasts this week in my technology class, so over the weekend I tried recording myself. The first few tries I would listen to it after and immediately think, “I sound like a little girl.” Which, you know, may just be how I sound, but it did not sound like a Narrator, and a Narrator was what I was supposed to be.

    We had to get headsets with mics for the class, since we’re making things like podcasts and we also have group Skype calls every couple weeks. I have this one, which I found worked perfectly well for me and was not super expensive.

    I need to go to bed and not listen to the audio post now, but I am looking forward to it–I love listening to your in-person readings! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Em, I have a Logitech headset and mic too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    It is strange listening to oneself. I always think of myself as having a somewhat deep voice, and actually I don’t. I sound younger than I think I do. It sounds as though you have the same issue . . .

  3. My voice always sounds higher than I think it does, which is why when I was still podcasting, I’d actually modulate it down very slightly in post-production, not enough to sound weird, but just “normal.”

    I’ve definitely noticed that my “author voice” is different from my regular voice; it’s something I cultivated when I started reading my work in public, and it’s instinctive now. There was a litmag launch last month which I participated in, and I think I surprised the bookstore audience when I shifted from my pre-reading banter to the reading itself; a few people came up to me afterward and said they appreciated how my voice carried to the back of the store.

    I also have to consciously slow myself down, as being the subject of attention always unnerves me and I tend to speed up my speech.

  4. Here’s a thing you can try on your next recording:

    Eliminate some of the “voice trailing off” that you do (for example at around 00:27 “no longer the person you were…” 00:39 “you want to die…” again the voice trails off in an ambiguous way on a very promising end of line, etc).

    I have been advised to eliminate such ambiguities from stage speech, as they muddle the transmission, and I found that by expressing a clear point rather than trailing off I do improve my delivery quite spectacularly.

    On the other hand it could be a personal trait that adds to the charm of the production. But it’s worth training your body for artistic purposes, in my opinion, even without pursuing a career as a stage performer. To get a taste of becoming art instead of making it ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Holly says:

    I love (:P) hearing bloggers.

  6. Emily Gilman says:

    Wow, I must’ve been more tired than I realized last night–I totally missed the part where you recorded the second time with a mic. Silly me. ๐Ÿ˜›

    I have the same issue with thinking my voice is lower than it is, and it looks like at least one other person here does as well. I wonder if it’s something physical/physiological, to do with how the sound travels through our bodies versus how it travels through the air? Or are there a bunch of other people out there who think their voices are higher than they are?

  7. I think it absolutely has to do with how sound conducts through the bones in your head. There’s a resonance that’s produced that can’t be duplicated by sound waves moving through air.

  8. Maery Rose says:

    I was so enamored with the content, I barely paid attention to the quality of the recording. I’m no expert, but what I was thinking is that you could speak more slowly to give the words time to sink in. It was hard to take in one thought before you were on to the next. But I loved the content itself and I think the quality of your voice is good.

  9. Yes, I think I need to speak more slowly, and also I definitely have to learn not to trail off like that. These are all very good lessons, and I think hearing your own voice helps your public reading skills, which is always something I want to work on. The question is, what should I record next? I’m not sure . . . (Notice that I trailed off here too! I have a way of doing that.)

  10. Sofia says:

    I wanted to listen to this ages ago but could not find the necessary five minutes (I’m sure you know what that’s like). But now my son’s coat is so ragged that I cannot send him to school in it tomorrow, so I’m trying to sew the worst holes together, and thought, here’s a perfect chance to listen to a few things online!

    I don’t know if you’ll even see this comment but I loved the recording. If you’re thinking of doing more, I wish you’d read some of your poetry.

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