Thursday, April 22, 2010

I was a weird kid

I was sitting here reading Silvana's really excellent (second) post about dude rock at Tiger Beatdown and came across this line and re-read it twice.
Especially because (and I can’t find a link for this, so you’re gonna have to take my word on it) women artificially raise their voices around the time of puberty, limiting their vocal range and depriving themselves of full use of their from-the-gut voice. Ever known a woman who seemed to find it literally impossible to speak loudly enough to fill a room? It wasn’t a physical problem. Also, the thing that teens start doing where you are constantly sucking in your stomach? Not good for talking loud and singing in interesting ways.
And I remembered that, when I was little, I used to take a lot of crap when I was a kid about just how high-pitched my voice was. My kindergarten teacher actually complained to my parents about it at their parent-teacher conference. When I first recorded it and listened to it back, I was pretty horrified at how much higher-pitched it was on tape as compared to how I heard it in my head. Unsurprisingly, I always sang soprano in chorus.

When I was about 12 -- i.e., in that puberty phase Silvana mentioned -- my voice changed. It got deeper, not higher, something I blamed on a series of throat infections. It's still high -- just the other night at a reading, my friend Kristal said it's just high enough that, on a voice-over, it would be hilariously funny to hear cursing the way I curse because it makes the cursing unexpected -- but it's definitely lower than it was. When I slow down and speak about intellectual stuff for an audience, it gets deeper yet. When I answer work-related phone calls, it's similarly deep.

But when I get a little sloshed, it gets higher and more girly -- I once referred to it as my "Drunken Strawberry Shortcake voice." I also find when singing along to crap on the radio or at karaoke, if I want to hit high notes without shattering ear drums, I have to take the deep breaths more than when singing low notes. Apparently, I internalized the too-high-to-be-taken-seriously thing a little too much.

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