Sonic narratives on fixed media can take many forms. We may find complexly nuanced sound productions that rely on a broad range of implied and/or culturally shared non-verbal cues to convey a narrative progression. But we also frequently find creative productions centred upon the human voice, much like traditional storytelling but presented in the wider variety of performed, captured, or constructed contexts enabled by technology. In those productions, human voice without a visible physical source will represent, if only in the historic sense, the essence of the acousmatic – an unseen speaker addressing assembled listeners. And, although precise listener responses to that unseen voice will certainly vary, we typically respond quite strongly when directly addressed by another human voice. What are some of the attributes of voice that can trigger those strong responses? And, more pragmatically, what questions should composers consider as we attempt to harness that power for our own creative ends? In this article, we raise some of those questions for consideration, with the hope that readers – particularly those who are also sonic creators – will seek to answer them through their own creative practice.
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