Search Results for "melodic intonation"

Melodic Intonation – contrastive stress

“Speak with enthusiasm,” was the common feedback to speakers of my local ToastMasters Club.  I was a member for some time ,and I not only gained additional knowledge and experience as a public speaker, but it was very reinforcing to learn more about how important our voices are in communicating our message at a public level.  You might be interested in learning more about what ToastMasters says about our speaking voices.

Melodic intonation, or vocal inflection, is the pitch variability we use to communicate the meaning of what we say.  Professor Albert Mehrabian (psychology, UCLA) has been a pioneer in the field of human communications and has provided a wealth of empirical data about how we relate to each other via verbal and non-verbal language.  In 1967, Mehrabian and Wiener examined the effects of vocal tone on the meaning of three single words spoken with three different emotions. They found that tone carried more meaning than the individual words themselves.

This makes intuitive sense, of course, yet these frequently sited studies have often over-generalized the findings to conclude that vocal tone added more than the actual words we speak to convey meaning.  Regardless of how the data may be interpreted, we can be confident that melodic intonation does convey important meaning about what we’re saying.  It is with our use of vocal inflection that others gain insight into how we’re feeling or what importance specific  words lend to what we’re saying.

Let’s consider the problem: flat, lifeless, boring expression.  Check out the video below. Do you want to listen to this guy for more than 20 seconds?  I watched for about a minute and realized this was the perfect video to show an example of a flat, lifeless, boring voice (and what he’s talking about isn’t at all riveting either).

Flat, Lifeless, Boring

Here is a great example of a professional speech coach who speaks very well (and has great tips).  Do you like her style?  Would she be a speaking role model?

Professional Speech Coach

Exercise:

One way to speak with enthusiasm is to emphasize or stress certain key words.  Let’s consider this neutral phrase:

The cake is great and the rainbow is beautiful.

Its meaning invariable comes alive depending upon which word is emphasized. Record yourself saying this phrase (be sure to first tune your pitch & resonators) in three different ways.  For example, emphasize the word cake.  What message do you think the phrase now conveys–maybe that the cake (not some other thing, like possibly the cookie) is great. We use this type of constrastive stress frequently in our day-to-day conversations to communicate (or constrast) differences in how we feel toward one thing compared to another.

Now, try emphasizing the word rainbow. Your vocal tone should convey a contrast—that you mean to communicate that the rainbow, not say, the clouds, are beautiful.  Can you hear the contrast?  Can you feel the difference (think proprioception)?

If you were ordering a cup of coffee at a coffee shop and wanted decaf, you might emphasize the word decaf or the flavor or roast of the coffee you want, to be sure they get your order right. Personally, I love cream, not milk, in my morning coffee. 

Step 10:  Melodic intonation

Your goal is to focus on word and syllable stress (or emphasis) to speak with enthusiasm.

Stay in touch. I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 10.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

Step 11 November Fluency

 Fluency – Marvelously Mellifluous You!

When you speak, whose voice do you hear? Whose voice do others hear?

Our voices are so closely tied to the essence of who we truly are. Heart and soul and voice are one! In fact, here’s a curious little phonation fact; The left vocal cord nerve dips down into the chest, loops around the aorta, then courses back upward into the larynx. So, literally, our voices are connected to our hearts!

Fluency is the last of the “Nine Elements of an Exceptional Feminine Voice.” Let’s take a few moments and recap just what these are. You know more than anyone how difficult it is to change your voice; that’s why having a tried-and-true system makes all the difference.

 

The Nine Elements of an Exceptional Feminine Voice

  1. Pitch: The speaking pitch of the average adult male is 100-150 Hz; the speaking pitch of the average adult female is 200-250 Hz. I’ve provided many tips and strategies in other posts and YouTube tutorials to help you with this element.
  2. Voice Quality: The quality of the voice–whether it’s raspy, breathy, strained or weak–can provide insights to our physical health, moods and mental focus. Many transgender women produce a very feminine voice in order to sound feminine, but that’s not really an effective strategies.
  3. Loudness: The loudness of a voice isn’t inherently feminine or masculine. But there does seem to a shift toward a more feminine sound when the power is turned down a few notches.
  4. Resonance: The reverberation of sound in a medium, i.e., the throat, mouth or nose, shapes the tone into your own unique voice. Transitioning your voice requires significant re-programming of the small muscles of the throat and mouth to bring your vocal tone into a clear feminine ring.
  5. Articulation: There are some subtle, but important differences in the way men and women speak. Clear, crisp consonants add femininity to your expression.
  6. Phrasing: Studies suggest that women tend to speak in longer phrases than men. Try adding more descriptive adjectives to your expression.
  7. Pacing (tempo): While women tend to speak more quickly than men, it isn’t necessary to speed up your pace to sound more feminine.
  8. Melodic Intonation: The pitch variability of gliding up and down is a much greater range in women. Place more emphasis on certain syllables in a phrase.
  9. Fluency: “Smoothly flowing like golden honey” is the way I think of how a very feminine woman might speak. Speak mellifluously! Dance with your words!Fluency refers to the smooth vs choppy way you might speak. In musical terms, fluency is similar to rhythm. Rhythms may consist of a sense of easy flow (legato), which mean that notes are blended or connected. Staccato rhythms are halting or sharp.Listen to this short Bela Bartok piano piece. Pay close attention to the fluency, or connection of notes. Notice the abruptness of some of the notes compared to the flow of others.

Fluency refers to the smooth vs choppy way you might speak. In musical terms, fluency is similar to rhythm. Rhythms may consist of a sense of easy flow (legato), which mean that notes are blended or connected. Staccato rhythms are halting or sharp.

Step 11 Mellifluous

 

Listen to this short Bela Bartok piano piece. Pay close attention to the fluency, or connection of notes. Notice the abruptness of some of the notes compared to the flow of others.

Staccato = abrupt

Legato = smoothly flowing

 

Can you discern the legato vs staccato rhythm? In my (and others) observations of speakers, I hear men speak in a choppy, halting manner, whereas women speak in a smooth, flowing manner. Although women often speak quite rapidly, we do speak fluently.

ANGELINA JOLIE – *ELLEN -TAKING LIVES*PART 1 by screamingangie

Angelina Jolie is one of the most elegant and feminine women in the world (in my opinion). I love her voice and the smoothly flowing way her movements match the fluency of her voice. Notice the contrast to Ellen Degeneres, who has a more staccato style of speaking.

So, what is fluency exactly and why is it important for you as a transgender woman? It’s one of the elements that will complete you.

 

Three Tips to Feminine Fluency

Dance with Words

I was working on fluency with a client the other day, and out of the blue she said, “It sounds like we’re dancing with words.”

Dance with these words. Find the flow. Experience the melody. Absorb their essence.

  • The rushing stream washed the soil along with it.
  • The sun sank slowly and was followed by darkness and a foggy chill.
  • There is another alphabet, whispering from every leaf, singing from every river, shimmering from every sky.

Connecting Consonants

Those of you reading this, who know my method well, understand that one of the major practice strategies I employ is proprioception–being aware of the physical sensation/feelings of your speech and voice when you speak. Speech sounds can be categorized in several ways. For this exercise, let’s look at those consonants that we might call “stretched” consonants. Their properties allow them to stretch as you produce them, they include–s, z, sh, h, l, m, n, ng, etc. Conversely, can you think which consonants might be classified as “quick”?

Here’s a practice exercise: Cue yourself to notice the stretched consonants in these words. Then try using each word in a sentence and notice proprioceptively (the sensation of the sounds) the feeling of the stretched consonants.

  • Susurration
  • Feather
  • Eschew
  • Soliloquy
  • Syrup
  • Exquisite
  • Halcyon
  • Euphoria
  • Serendipity
  • Sonoluminescence

Elegant Elongations

Just as there are quick and streteched consonants, there are “short” and “long” vowels. Think back to your primary education; can you come up with three “short” vowels? How about three “long” vowels?  In nearly all of the training routines that I provide in my voice training programs, we vocalize using these three syllables, “hee,” “haa,” and “hoo.” Each of these is a “long” vowel, which by definition, means the vowel duration and voice onset time are longer (in time) than “short” vowels, like the /I/ in the word “hit.”

Now, as an exercise: Cue yourself to stretch the “long” vowels in these words more than you normally would the consonants in these words. Then try using each word in a sentence and notice proprioceptively how the vowels feel in your mouth.

  • Steep
  • Steel
  • Squeeze
  • Speech
  • Seen
  • Fleet
  • Seem
  • Sweet
  • Teem
  • Tree
  • Weed
  • Wheel
  • Wheeze
  • Freeze
  • Seethe

 

Step 10: Fluency

Bring your feminine voice into her glory. Dance with your words! Taste the sounds! Stay in touch.  I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 11.

 

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Blue HeartKathe

Denver, Colorado

 

EVI-NEW-logo-very-smail

September:  the harvest moon, crisp autumn nights, thoughts of sweaters and home-cooked soups.

As was mentioned last month, the naturalizing elements–phrasing, pacing, melodic intonation and fluency–when used together, help you create an authentic feminine voice…something we all want, right?

September is Step 9–Pacing.  Think of all the things you do that you have a pace for:  walking, biking, jogging, driving, and speaking.  We establish our pace for these activities based largely on our own internal sense of tempo.

Music theory helps us understand pacing a bit more.

Let’s consider beat.  In its simplest definition, beat is tempo, pace, or the time it takes to play a piece. In Western music, beat is often demarcated by a metronome, a device that produces a steady pulse at the rate of x beats per minute (bpm).  A metronome marking of 60 would have 60 pulses (or beats) per minute, or one per second, while a marking of 120 would have 120 pulses per minute, or two per second.

Rhythm can be confused with beat, because sometimes the beat is also the rhythm. For instance, in a piece with a 4/4 time signature, a section of only quarter notes would be both the beat and the rhythm. However, while beat must be constant, rhythm is, by definition, variable. Rhythm is the length and accent given to a series of notes in a piece. In most Western music, rhythm and pitch go hand in hand to create a melody. The rhythm determines the length of the notes and the pitch, whether they go up or down. A noted exception is a chant (like an auctioneer’s chant, see the videos below), in which the singer concentrates solely on the pitch and allows the lyrics to move the melody along without rhythm. Beside the length of notes, rhythm is also created when some notes are emphasized over others.

Read more.

For you non-musical folks, don’t let the technical discussion above overwhelm you.  We keep the concept of pacing, or tempo/rhythm quite simple when training voices.  In fact, pacing is fundamentally a training tool rather than a goal.  There is no ideal tempo that you need to establish. Many people assume that women tend to speak more quickly than men, but this notion has been difficult to substantiate. See SEX AND SPEAKING RATE (August 2006) http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003423.html

Thinking that you must speak more quickly isn’t at all necessary!

The way that pacing becomes useful in your training is to help you set a pace so that you more effectively “code” the other training elements (posture, breathing, pitch, resonance, etc.).  Practicing at too quick at tempo will impede your progresss.  And conversely, practicing words and phrasing too slowly tends to have a  negative impact on resonance and melodic intonation.

Practicing your words and phrases at “just right” pace will greatly enhance your training.

We use a metronome in VFT (voice feminization therapy), but we don’t get too picky about accuracy.  Unlike music, our speaking pace (and thus, beats) has a lot of wiggle-room.  It’s not about counting beats or understanding time signatures on a musical staff; it’s about developing an internal sense of tempo.

Listen to these two tempos:

72 bpm

This is a relatively slow beat.  Try to sense this rhythm; feel it move with it.   Use a thought experiment (like we talked about in June Step 6 Resonance) and is something to consider when practicing.

120 bpm

This is a much faster tempo.   It’s too fast, in fact to speak with good breath, pitch, articulation or resonance control.  But some people are very successful with a pace like this.

Listen a bit to these speakers.  What do you think of their tempo/pace?

John Korrey,  World Champion Auctioneer

Emily Wears, female auctioneer

I found this video and like it a lot because it shows a very typical, well spoken professional woman speaking at a comfortable pace.  What do you think?

Perfectly paced speech

This last video, of Jean Kilbourne, who is a feminist author, speaker, and filmmaker is a fine example of wonderfully paced female speaker!  Listen to her tempo, and while you’re listening, notice her melodic intonation and fluency.

Exercises:

These three exercises are designed to give you a sense of pace or tempo when you speak.

One: count the beats

I know I said counting beats wasn’t necessary, but initially (for you non-musical folks) it’s a good way to incorporate the notion of pacing.  Listen again to the three samples above.

Two: Phrases

Recall, that one important strategy to mastering your feminine voice is to chunk down all the tasks into manageable sizes.  Working with phrases is one way to implement this strategy.

Let one of the above beats play in the background as you read each phrase.  Remember, it’s not about saying one word per beat, but just having a general sense of how fast/slow you’re going and what feels right to you.

Three Syllable Phrases Four Syllable Phrases
Not right now. Cream and sugar.
Time to go. Bread and butter.
Close your eyes. Salt and pepper.
Fine report. Toast and butter.
Read the book. Pie and coffee.
Who is it? Needle and thread.
Pick it up. Turkey and cheese.
Take a nap. Nice to meet you.

Three: Reading

This fun little limerick has a rhythmic pace to it.  Let any of the tempos above play in the background as you read this poem.  Which tempo feels right?

SMILE FOR YOU


Smiling is infectious; you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin
When he smiled I realized I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile, then I realized its worth,
A single smile, just like mine could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected
Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!

Step 9:  PACING

For September, your goal is to apply your metacognitve strategy to the pacing of your daily practice routine and to your daily speaking.

I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 9. Stay in touch over the month.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

30-Day Crash Course

Fundamentals of Your Feminine Voice

Beyond the Fundamentals 1: the next dimension

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DOWNLOAD “Fundamentals of Your Feminine Voice” MP3 program NOW! CLICK ON the link below.