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  • Paul Davidson

Your Voice (And Trees Falling in the Forest)

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Classic mind-bending trivia question. Right along with is the Universe infinite and was that you who just let one loose? But no one has really ever spent any time addressing a question I find myself asking myself on a regular basis:

Does your voice sound the same to you as it does to someone else?

My research involved me saying “Hello”, “Hey Paul”, “Hi There”, “Woooo Hoooo!” and “The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over the Lazy Dog” into a mini-tape recorder over the course of two hours. Upon playback, I was interested to realize that my voice still sounds the same coming out of my mouth as it does coming out of the speaker of the tape recorder.

Fact #1: My voice sounds the same in my head as it does coming over a speaker.

But popular scientists have said that, indeed, the way you hear your voice is different than how others hear your voice. So I moved onto step 2. Here, I took the tape recorder over to my friend’s house and first spoke to him from my mouth:

“Hi, you.” “What’s up!?” “Hi Paul” “Want a pizza with that?” “Thousand Island or Ranch?”

I asked him if he felt he got a sense for what my voice sounds like from out of my mouth. He said yes. Then I played him the recorded tape I had recorded earlier. The tape that I felt sounded just like my voice sounded when coming from my own head. He listened to it. I asked him if he thought the voice from the tape sounded the same as my voice from my mouth.

He said yes. But he also said, “If you hear your voice on a tape recorder and your voice when you’re speaking and they sound the same…. Doesn’t that mean that when I hear your voice on a tape or from you speaking…either way I’m going to hear what I believe to be the same voice?”

Fact #2: Enlisting the help of a friend will do no more than confuse you.

The reality of it all is this: You may hear my voice one way. I may hear my voice another way. But since I only hear my voice the way I hear it and you only hear my voice the way you hear it, we will never be able to explain to eachother the differences between what you hear and what I hear.

Fact #3: There is no way in hell I can ever prove or disprove this connundrum.

The fact of the matter is this — when you go to see Brad Pitt’s latest movie you may (in your head) hear a more feminine sounding voice than I do. But we will never know the difference. We are all running around hearing people speak and hearing it differently based on our ear canals.

And that tree? I may hear it crash, and you may hear it crush… But the two of us will never know that we’re hearing something different because like the story says, we were never in the forest to begin with…

You can call me, Mr. Science.

In other news, the Black Eyed Peas have topped their last hit song “Where Is The Love” featuring Justin Timberlake with a really intelligent new hit called “Shut Up”. Check out the awesome and diversified first paragraph of lyrics taken right from the song:

Shut up Just shut up shut up. Shut up Just shut up, shut up Shut up Just shut up, shut up Shut it up, just shut up, shut up. Shut up Just shut up, shut up. Shut up Just shut up, shut up. Shut up Just shut up, shut up. Shut it up, just shut up, shut up.

Really, just brilliant.

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