, Newburyport, MA


October 7, 2013

Connecting through the human voice


And does anyone not recognize the voice of a George Clooney or a James Earl Jones in a commercial, even when it is not labeled as such? Obviously the advertisers are aware of this.

One little hitch, or sidebar, to all this is siblings, who share the same genetics and upbringing. Both my wife and I have difficulty distinguishing between the voices of our two grandsons, aged 9 and 8. Which one are we talking to on the phone?

I once read a piece about the special harmony of the voices of sibling musical groups, such as the Everly Brothers or Pointer Sisters or the Jackson Five. Somehow the similarities in backgrounds make for a special blend of voices that reinforce each other in a way that is not matched by unrelated voices.

But other than that and random chance, we are one of a kind. Throw in physical appearance and personality, and the uniqueness is even more special.

For the past few years I have been putting together Powerpoint slide shows of ancestors and offspring. In addition to cradle-to-grave photographs, I have included old film clips, documents, quotations, signatures and, as much as possible, audio clips.

Fortunately, I made a cassette tape recording of my father talking about sports a few years before he died way back in 1974. Descendants will always know how he sounded. “I didn’t know he had such a Massachusetts accent,” commented my older son, who was born just three months before his grandfather died.

I have a more recent video interview with my mother in which she comments on assorted members of the family. The warmth of those insights, in her own voice, will live on forever despite her death in 2005.

For the sake of my wife and two sons, I also made it a point years ago to tape record the reflections of my mother- and father-in-law before they, too, were gone.

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