Your Great Voice! Warm Bath or a Cold Shower? 

 September 4, 2020

By  QJ

This Video makes my heart sing...

Canterbury Cathedral was my home - once upon a time... I lived next to the Cathedral (literally), inside the Cathedral precincts for ten years, from age 8 to 18.

Yes, I was a boy chorister. And I made it to Head Chorister too. Something I'm very proud of.

In the video, David Flood, Choir Master at Canterbury, says, "The building is part of the sound you make".

Maybe that's why I'm always banging on about the importance of good acoustics! He goes on, "... it's like putting a duvet around your shoulders".

The 'Duvet around your Shoulders', is what made me think of the 'Warm Bath' metaphor.

Sound - all sound - affects our emotions. But unlike a picture where we can see clearly what we don't like, or do like, about it, sound is much harder to assess.

Unless you're trained in sound, you won't necessarily know why one sound is pleasant and another unpleasant: why you find one particular piece of music makes you cry, and another makes you want to run screaming from the room.

But I do. I was intrigued by sound - and music - from when I was very young. So alongside music, I studied sound, acoustics, and the emotional impact of sound and music - something we all experience, but few of us really understand.

Even the scientists are still working on it. It's really not that clear to anyone.

So why this article?

Well, the one thing we do know about sound and the acoustic in which a sound is heard, is that the acoustic has a dramatic effect on our experience. Generally speaking, a 'dead' acoustic brings us closer to the source of the sound, making it appear more intimate, and WARMER: whereas a live, lively or reverberant acoustic puts a lot of space, figuratively and literally around the sound and between us and the source of the pure sound, making it sound more distant, more remote, less intimate, and COLDER!

Reverberation is essentially the amount of 'the room' that we hear. As opposed to 'the room' that you don't hear when you're outdoors - say, in a field.

A room has boundaries, we call them walls and floor and ceiling, and each of these boundaries 'bounces' the sound back into the room, mixing it with the original sound source. The amount of 'bounce' is determined by how 'absorbent' the walls, floor and ceiling are. In a bathroom, for instance, the wall are flat, maybe tiled, and very reflective of sound. Whereas in a living room, where there are a lot of soft furnishings, much less so, and lot less reverberation will be generated and heard.

But let me stop here, before I get too technical.

Have you ever listened to the Voice Over on a movie trailer? If you have, you'll recognize that the voice sounds like it's very close, often deep and clear, and the performer is trying to seduce you into the world that the movie creates for you when you watch it.

The recording of this Voice Over, has zero reverberation on it. It's recorded very close miked, and in a virtually 'dead' acoustic environment. And this is what we call 'The Warm Bath' sound.

It really is seductive, in the true sense of the word, (the dictionary definition I've found is: tempting and attractive; enticing.)

And so I'm going to leave you to draw your own conclusions about this.

If you're presenting online, do you think it's going to be better for your audience to hear you as a 'Warm Bath' experience, or as a 'Cold Shower' experience?

You decide, and then make sure that your 'room' is either clearly heard, or silenced, depending on what you want.

For advice about how to do this, you might like my other article - Getting Set Up - which you'll find HERE

If you've enjoyed this article, please share it on social media, and leave me a comment below. Thanks.

Have Fun: Go Play

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    Hi I'm QJ - a composer of music and sonic art.
    For decades, I've worked as a musician, a sound engineer and a record producer, owned two recording studios and a professional symphony orchestra.
    I've produced artists for major labels from the analogue to the digital age.
    I like to learn from others, and I like to support young talent.
    When you play my recorded music on this website, please leave a comment to say how it made you feel.
    Thank you.

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