Bill's Blog

Sounds and duration

From the first days that we were learning language, we were taught that words were made up of consonants and vowels. This is true, of course, but is it the complete picture?

I don’t know about you, but my whole education through high school was about written communication. I had one course in eighth grade about public speaking. Otherwise they had me writing. It may have been a composition in English class. It may have been a report for another subject. But in either situation, it was written communication. In these instances, consonants and vowels were the only factors in play as it relates to words.

I believe that, in spoken word communication, we need to think in a different way.

Written communication is about the words that you choose. Spoken word communication is not only about the words that you choose, but also about how you say them. And that brings in another factor – duration.

I look at words in terms of sounds and duration. The sounds are the consonants and vowels. They define the literal meaning of what you are saying. The duration allows you to add expression to your words. The longer the sounds, the more expression (within reason, of course).

Let me try to illustrate this in text form. Imagine a font where the lines of the letters are pencil thin. Imagine a second font where the lines are very thick – thick enough to add color, perhaps some stars or exclamation points, even a picture of a waterfall. The second font allows you to add some expression, doesn’t it. The first does not.

In the same way, thin words can have some expression, but not a lot. Thicker words, words with duration, allow you to add expression and to utilize a lot more vocal variety.

Vocal variety enables you to better connect with your audience. And that means adding duration.

Posted in Ear Candy by Bill Brown on January 28, 2016.

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