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Can you recall the sound of someone's voice?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Canterpiece, Feb 6, 2020.

  1. Canterpiece

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    I've noticed something about myself. So, I am quite a visually minded person. I can often recall something visually via a detailed mental picture in my head so long as I am familiar enough with it. Also, I can easily imagine other stimulus such as sounds, smells and how a texture feels.

    The weird part is that this is not true when it comes to the sound of a person's voice. In fact, in my dreams I tend to focus on my own internal thoughts within the dream. When I talk to someone else, it's usually someone I don't know talking to me about people I do know. In dreams during situations where I talk to people I know the voice can sound vaguely like them...similar speech patterns such as a rise and fall in their voice. However, there is frequently a monotone element to the majority of people I talk to even though I know they do not speak like this in real life.

    I actually can't recall my mother's voice even though I talk to her regularly. Despite the fact I would know it if I heard it. Yet I can't conjure it. I can see her face in exact detail in my mind...but I can't conjure her voice. I can imagine what she might say to me, and remember conversations with her but they're in the same monotone most of the voices I imagine are.

    Never given this much thought before, but now that I have it does seem a little odd. Anyone else like this? Can you recall voices on demand? I can with a few to a very small degree, but I seem to struggle with it. Yet other sounds, such as the sound of the sea crashing against rocks, seagulls, a dog barking or wind-chimes I can easily imagine. :confused:
     
  2. BothWaysSecret

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    Hmmm. Interesting topic. I've never really thought about this before.

    I guess if I thought about it, I'm kind of like you where in dreams someone sounds vaguely like themselves but not exactly. Although I don't give their voice much thought because I'm usually more focused on what's going on in the dream itself.

    However, I can recall my grandmother's voice very well. She died several years ago, and while I don't dream about her much, I can easily remember her voice if I think about it at any point during the day.
     
  3. Batman

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    That's really interesting to read. I'm the opposite, my dreams are usually vocally really clear, but faces always look like a blur to me. I wouldn't be able to draw or describe the details of someone's face from memory. And people's voices impact me much more than their looks.
     
  4. Canterpiece

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    Huh, well that's fascinating to me. Are you good at doing impressions of people's voices? I am awful at it since I usually can't recall how they sound from memory. So when people ask me to do an impression I ask them for a demonstration of what that would sound like then I try to copy them. Even then I tend to find it difficult. I often slip back into my regular speech patterns when attempting an impression, I can't sustain one for long. However, if you were to ask me to do an impression of how they walk, their posture and general body language I would find that easier to imitate.

    I could describe the details of someone's face if I am familiar enough with them quite intensely if I wanted to, but I don't usually since that would come across as creepy. Unfortunately I'm not great at perspective when it comes to drawing people, but I'm improving on it.

    When I write stories I have a habit of including a lot of visual information along with other sensory details. I imagine myself in the scene in my head and describe what I'm experiencing onto the document/page. Then I edit it so it's not overly bogged down with unnecessary information. Imagining how someone might sound is harder for me. When I read stories the characters are narrated in different variations of my own voice. I don't tend to remark on how a voice sounds (such as harsh, soft, sing-song) when writing character dialogue. That is something I have a tendency to forget to consider.

    Despite having a good memory for song lyrics; I'm not great at imitating how a singer sounds. I'll usually keep to the right rhythm but regardless of the song it'll always sound like me.

    Admittedly I can be a little oblivious to tone, if I don't know how someone feels about a topic beforehand then I might miss the fact that they are using sarcasm. For example, if I know someone dislikes maths and they say "Oh I just love maths!" then I know they are being sarcastic. However, if I don't know how they feel about maths then it becomes harder to tell. I sometimes end up using the wrong tone and end up communicating the wrong message, so I tend to rely on my body language to clarify things if I'm trying to communicate a tone I find more difficult. Enthusiasm is something I cannot fake, if I attempt to do so then it comes across as sarcastic or even passive aggressive to others. So it has to be genuine. If anyone has any advice on how to sound enthusiastic convincingly, let me know. Might help me out in certain situations such as pretending to like a gift when I don't, so I don't sound ungrateful. I used to find it difficult to tell when people are bored, but I've gotten better at that. Started getting the hang of it at sixteen years old (I'm twenty now). Better late than never I suppose.

    I have a good sense of hearing, in fact it's rather oversensitive. Yet sometimes I forget what accent someone spoke to me in. Or I just can't recall their voice in general (this is quite common for me). How they walked around the room or what they spoke to me about I find easier to remember. If a light was buzzing in a room I'm more likely to remember that then the sound of the voice of someone who spoke to me in that room.
     
    #4 Canterpiece, Feb 10, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  5. Batman

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    I'm not very good at impressions no But I think I could describe a voice to an impressionist rather well. I can still super clearly remember the voice of the first girl I had a huge crush on, despite only talking to her maybe twice, and it being years ago. The pattern of her laughter was a like a dull staccato, and she had a slight lisp on certain words. She always spoke in a hushed shy way as if she wasn't quite sure if she should be saying it. Her voice was very gentle and soft, and I think that really informed my view of who she was, even though I really didn't know her that well at all.

    I also have very sensitive hearing, I carry earplugs because overly loud or sharp noises can cause me a lot of distress. And always being able to hear cars in the distance is why I hate living in the city.

    It's so interesting reading how different everyone's basic life experience is.
     
  6. musicteach

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    I recall the melody of someone’s voice.

    Interestingly, this is an area of the brain that hasn’t really been studied that much and we’re not exactly sure how/why memories are formed and how the brain processes them. It’s fairly known that the brain struggles to identity things based on one sense alone — aside from sight. If you see a stop sign, you know it’s a stop sign. You know you’ve seen it before, you recognize it. But what if you felt it with your hands? Smelled it? Do stop signs make a distinctive sound that’s different from say a speed limit sign if you were to hit it (it does)?

    For instance, if I play you a recording of a not being played, is it ten trumpets? Ten tubas? Five trumpets and five tubas? Trick question it was ten French horns. But this is a limitation with how the brain processes sound.

    Some say that dreams are the mind’s way of processing/dealing with the events from the day.
     
  7. HM03

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    I depends on what frequency I heard their voice and how long it's been.

    I remember the voices of the people I frequently talked to in highschool, although its been awhile. I can't remember my grandma's voice since it's been 15 years. I remember my other grandparents/my mom's voices because it hasn't been THAT long. It really depends, although I'd have to agree with you, it's not nearly as good my visual memory. I see people all the time that I recognize but they dont recognize me lol
     
  8. EleanorHunter

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    Oooooooo this is a really interesting topic. It also makes me curious; how much of this is learned behavior or just innately programmed within our brains from birth? Like is it possible that you learned what you pay attention to early on, and now, it's hard to remember the other bits? Or is it all predetermined from the moment you were born?

    I guess the reason I ask is because of my own experiences. Personally, I've been terrible at eye contact since I was a child. Like, terrible. I used to look at my shoes while talking to people, and my mom would yell at me for it once we got home. Nowadays, it's passable, but I still never look people in the eye when I'm talking about something personal to me. I think I've looked my therapist in the eye about 5% of the time I've been talking to her, and I've been seeing her for a year. So to me, people's voices were/are distinct. It was what I remembered about people I talked to, as opposed to little physical features.

    Of course, then I grew up, not just learning how to deal with my behaviors, but in the theater/performing arts world. When you spend most of your free time morphing into something else, you tend to focus on the bits of people that you can emulate. So things like voice, tone, expression, and body language stick out to me. I might not remember what the color of this person's eyes were, but I can show you how they'd stand and what they'd say in a certain situation. Even when I'm dreaming, people will sometimes only be distinguishable by their voices and body languages. I just know who they are, even if their appearance is swapped with someone else I know.

    So yeah, I'm curious if this is all determined from birth, or if my time learning how to become a professional liar has really screwed with my perception.
     
  9. Canterpiece

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    @EleanorHunter

    I used to have issues regarding eye-contact, as a result I am understanding when others do not wish to make eye-contact with me. Usually if someone looks uncomfortable with it I look over their shoulder or look vaguely interested in the scenery. I used to have a teacher who absolutely hated the lack of eye-contact and took active measures to change my behaviour.

    He wouldn't answer any of my questions or accept any of my answers if I didn't maintain eye-contact with him. If I gave an answer without doing so then he'd tell me to try again or simply ignore me. Sometimes classmates would try to stand up for me and say "Hey, (my name) said- (then they'd say my answer) and I agree with her because-" but he would reply that if it didn't come out of my mouth and with eye-contact then he wasn't going to count it. Then he'd keep asking the question as though no one had said anything. It was a rather difficult class as a result. He was rather stubborn about this, he kept it up for the entire year and eventually I taught myself to maintain eye-contact with him for a suitable amount of time.

    I know that some people have issues with eye-contact due to sensory reasons. However, that was not the reason I did. I had an irrational fear combined with being quite self conscious over how I appeared to authority figures. When I was quite young someone I saw as an authority figure had a mental breakdown and blamed me. This caused me to develop a sense of paranoia and anxiety about accidentally triggering someone to mentally breakdown by looking at them the wrong way so sometimes I avoided doing so all together. Especially if they somehow reminded me of that person. It was irrational and the teacher who insisted on eye-contact indirectly forced me to confront my fear and address difficult memories. However, I don't condone his approach. I no longer have any difficulty with eye-contact now that I've come to terms with the underlying reasons.

    Anyway, despite my past issues even when I couldn't look someone in the face I could usually never remember their voice. In fact, when I remember the traumatic event (witnessing the mental breakdown) I don't actually remember her voice or her face. Somewhat her hair. It's odd because everything else is so vivid in that memory (what words she said, how the furniture felt around me, how uncomfortable/scared/worried/confused and guilty I felt). Except I do remember the voice of the teacher who was insistent on eye-contact, it was quite a unique and powerful/forceful voice.
     
    #9 Canterpiece, Feb 15, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2020
  10. Chizu

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    I'm sort of the opposite. I have pretty strong recall ability when it comes to voices. I can't mimic someone's voice well (except for maybe my brother's, since we essentially have the same voice), but I can recreate it in my head perfectly. I've never been talented at music, but in my head I can recreate songs in my head that are close to the original, and even create new songs in my head that play out as if they were sung and played by whatever band I'm imagining. Doesn't matter what kind of song or what singer/band, it could be Justin Bieber singing the Klingon National Anthem.
    I can create new voices in my head too. When I write, the characters I create often have very distinct voices. I don't necessarily choose the voice that a character I create has. Sometimes I end up with a character that has a very annoying, boring, or cliched voice, and if I didn't intentionally choose to make that character annoying, boring, cliched, or whatever, it helps let me know I need to go back and do some heavy editing, or scrap that character entirely, or sometimes even scrap the entire story. Writing is a lot harder than people think it is.
    My main weakness comes to people I don't really know. For example, new classmates. Then, I have problems with both their faces and names, but never their voice. I'm essentially face-blind to people until I get to know them. A lot of this might come from my shyness, as making eye contact and staring at someone's face can sometimes be a daunting task for me. This isn't always the case though. Sometimes, I'm just not nervous at all, and can take everybody in, names and all. Faces though do tend to remain the last thing I take in. I think it mainly just goes back to when I was bullied in school. When I was a kid, making eye contact was sometimes an invitation for someone to pick on me, so I have a habit of glancing away from people's faces.
     
    #10 Chizu, Feb 16, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
  11. Devil Dave

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    So is it the same when you try to recall a singing voice? If I tell you to imagine a Mariah Carey song being sung in James Hetfield's voice, you won't be able to tell the difference?!
     
  12. Tightrope

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    Yes. Almost too well. My therapist thinks my archival of what has been said and how it has been said is a bit much, but manages to think it's comical, too.
     
  13. Canterpiece

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    I find it easier to recall singing voices than people speaking normally (I'm not sure why). However, sometimes I can only imagine how it originally sounded. I can't imagine James Hetfield singing a Mariah Carey song unless I had previously physically heard him do so in real life. As far as I'm aware such a cover does not exist. I can't imagine "All I want for Christmas is you" in his voice. Not easily. I find it difficult to apply those words and think how he'd say them. When I try I usually end up with a few seconds of it and then I go back to hearing Mariah. It's less about not being able to tell and more just not being able to. For me, their voices are so connected with their songs that I find it hard to imagine them singing something they haven't. Their styles are too different and I'm not familiar enough with James Hetfield for it to work.

    However, I've tried imagining My Chemical Romance songs being covered by Fall Out Boy (and vice versa) and I find that an easier task.
     
  14. Devil Dave

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    I actually can imagine pretty much anyone singing a cover of a song they're not likely to do, maybe that's because I grew up with siblings who were heavy metal fans and they played lots of heavy metal versions of songs that were originally either pop songs, R&B songs, or even children's nursery rhymes.

    I thought of James Hetfield because I remember watching some awards show on MTV years ago where some comedian was talking to James Hetfield about becoming a dad, and asking him if he sings to his newborn with that voice, and he did a pretty good impression of If You're Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands in the style of a Metallica song.

    When I hear someone doing an impression of a famous person's voice, it makes me more aware of what that person sounds like, because they're over-emphasizing the way they pronounce things, and it makes me think "well I never put much thought into how that person sounds before, but now they're making me notice it, and I can't unhear it"
    Is it like that for you if you hear someone doing impressions, or does it have no effect?

    There was another time I heard a woman doing an impression of Keira Knightly. I've never really liked Keira Knightly, there's something I've found off-putting about her voice, and I wasn't sure what it was, then this impressionist woman put on a grin and said "she talks through her teeth like this" and I thought "That's it! That's why I can't stand her!"
     
  15. Canterpiece

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    @Devil Dave

    Unless it's very deeply exaggerated, then no. I'd say that it's fairly uncommon for me to hear an impression and suddenly notice a verbal peculiarity that I haven't already noticed in the way a celebrity speaks. Admittedly I've felt a bit lost before watching impressions on TV whilst others in the room have remarked about never noticing a certain thing about their voice. I tend not to give it much thought. What makes an impression entertaining for me is to hear someone say a catchphrase or make a joke about the personality of the celebrity. Unlikely situations of different celebrities meeting and talking to one another can be fun. I have noticed mannerisms more due to an impressionist drawing attention to them (such as shaking their head a lot, broad hand gestures, tilting their head and pouting slightly when asked a question etc).

    Jokes that are simply "isn't it amusing that this person sounds like this?" tend not to amuse me. I usually hear them and either think "Yeah, that sounds like them" or "that's rather exaggerated but that's the joke". Then I might notice a few traits in their voice I didn't before, but then I usually end up forgetting about it and paying it no mind when I hear the celebrity afterwards (once several days have passed since I heard the impressionist). I might think "Hey, what was that thing that impressionist drew attention to again?" but I typically can't recall it from memory.
     
    #15 Canterpiece, Feb 21, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
  16. Halolala

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    I have a great visual memory...and at the same time I struggle with remembering people's faces. It takes me really long time to remember how someone looks like, so if you change your hairstyle or something, I'm likely not to recognise you.
    Voices, though. These I remember easily and I'm actually more likely to recognise someone by their voice than by their face.