The Sounds Behind Our Voice

By John Baron

What do seasoned actors express that is more than the lines they say?

What do the ‘raw/gut’ sounds behind our words actually mean?

How aware are we of the underlying causes of our own and of others’ vocal tensions?

How might professionals intentionally access ‘sound’ to persuade clients more effectively?

And baby talk. What do we know about this?

The bridge between early childhood sound and adult vocal tones is an area
that requires better understanding if we are to more fully realize the
potential and depth in our communication. The sounds behind words often
express unconscious aspects of ourselves and our memories. This is one
reason they tend to remain unknown or unclear to us.

As an ex-actor in my native England, then businessman, mind-body-plus
teacher and voice coach, these questions have lived with me over the
years. I’m wanting to share some of my observations and hunches with the
Somatic Psychotherapy Community as to why sounds behind voices often
say much more than mere words.

Tone of Voice

We use the phrase ‘tone of voice’ from time to time. But what do we mean when we say or hear it?

Most of us can recall being told “do not use that tone of voice at me” as a wannabee delinquent teenager by an out-of-patience parent. Our tone at that time may have sounded:


and these are just ten tones of voice for this one example. The list, of course, is endless. Well, at least as endless as grouchy teenagers are.

The truth is our ‘tone of voice’ actually communicates far more than the words we use do.

We all used our innate sounds to communicate as infants before our words started to show up. But these innate sounds don’t suddenly stop when we begin to ‘speak.’ They develop alongside our acquired vocabularies. This development synchronizes with our expanding vocabulary. These sounds can be as sophisticated as the most complex sentences we use. Yet there seems to be little study about their meaning, at least as far as language communication is concerned. There are not thousands of innate-sound dictionary equivalents; no university chairs devoted to the meaning of sounds behind words.

Our tone of voice expresses our emotional connection behind the words we use.

Our emotional states fluctuate throughout the day. Take the following string of words, for example: “pass the salt!” There are millions of ways to say this. Deliver this line to just three people you know (better if there’s a salt cellar around when you do). As you say ‘pass the salt’ to each of them, you will sound different every time. Why? Because you have a different emotional connection to each of them. Your sound will reflect that.

To read John’s entire article, please click here


Credit photos:

Astonishment Image by Press  Love you  from Pixabay

Angry man Image by ashish choudhary from Pixabay