Vocal Reflections

I’ve always struggled with hearing my own recorded voice. It seems like a common thing to feel self-conscious about, given how different we sound when we speak and when we hear a recording of ourselves speak. Once upon a time, this discomfort could be easily blamed on tinny-sounding audio or poor recording equipment, but now as the ability to record and playback audio in high quality becomes ever more available to anyone with a smartphone or a hundred dollars to spare for a decent USB microphone, we’re forced to confront that fact that it’s just us.

It’s kind of a weird problem to tackle, at least in the sort of specific way of addressing how you feel about your own voice. Everyone is used to the sound of their own voice and some people even enjoy it. You’re the only person who hears you talk and hears a recording of you talk and thinks the two sound different. Aside from, of course, the people who have such good hearing that they can pick up on the small imperfections of any audio recording that isn’t captured in an isolated, sound-proof room. But you’re still the only person who thinks one of those voices is fundamentally wrong. Which is the trouble with hearing via vibrations and speaking via vibrations when both of those vibration-focused locations are so close to each other and physically connected. It’s always gonna mess things up a bit.

I’ve had to get comfortable with my voice, though. As I’ve been recording my poems and doing some basic editing (maybe someday I’ll invest in sound-proofing and a mini-recording booth of some kind), I’ve had to listen to myself a lot. I’ve gotten familiar with the different ways my voice changes based on how I’m feeling, what my mood is, how tired or energetic I am, and what I’ve been drinking lately. I’m also very familiar with how many gross, wet noises my mouth makes when I’m not talking but moving my tongue around in there. Honestly, mouths are pretty gross if you start to think about them a lot and I encourage you to avoid that since we literally can’t live without them.

Anyway. As I’ve experimented with recording settings, with positions and breathing techniques I’ve picked up from working in theater, podcast advice books, and one ex who was a singer, I’ve come to better understand the audio tool that is my voice. I’m still trash at accents and can’t maintain a consistent voice to save my life, but I think that practicing as I record these poems and work on my editing skills will give me some real progress. Not that I plan to become a voice actor or anything like that (that’s not really something I’m personally interested in, anyway), but I’d love to have more vocal skills in my lexicon for Dungeons and Dragons games or even just being able to more precisely control what people hear when I speak or verbally communicate.

I still hope to someday do a podcast or two. I’ve got some fun ideas that would just be a fun time to record with my friends, and maybe someday I’ll move them from ideas to projects. I also think that recording myself reading my creative works could be interesting, too. I know some authors read their own books for audiobook recordings, and I think that would be interesting to do if I wind up having a good voice for it. I’m not sure I do, though. Most audiobooks I’ve heard involve people with… softer voices, I guess? I don’t feel like my voice is harsh or anything, just sort of generally clipped and maybe… precise? But not in a “sounds clear” way. Maybe in a “low effort” kind of way. I don’t know. It’s difficult to not be incredibly critical of my own voice, the way I’d be of any self-expression or creation.

I hope people are enjoying the recordings I’m posting of my poems. If they get enough attention, I might go back and start recording myself reading other things, like my old flash fiction or even longer stuff like chapters of my serial story for when I start reposting that later this year (once I’m through the list of poems).

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