Voice Pitch

It makes a difference:

A 2011 Canadian study also showed that people prefer political candidates with lower-pitched voices. That study used archival recordings of nine U.S. presidents going back to Harry Truman, and then manipulated the voices to create higher- and lower-pitched versions. Researchers then played the two versions for study subjects who were asked to rate them for qualities like trustworthiness, leadership and intelligence. The lower-pitched recordings got the highest ratings. According to a BBC report, Margaret Thatcher got vocal coaching to lower the pitch of her voice.

Not doing that herself was one of Sarah Palin’s biggest mistakes. I liked most of what she had to say, but her voice grated even on me, and most people probably couldn’t get past it (particularly combined with the accent, though that was less of a problem, at least for me).

[Update a while later]

Ruth Dudley Edwards remembers the Iron Lady:

A 1977 poll revealed that 54 per cent of British people thought Jack Jones, the head of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, was more powerful than Prime Minister Callaghan, who had Jones made a Companion of Honour, an elite order restricted to people with outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion. Jones deserves much of the credit for what became known as the “winter of discontent”, when bodies lay unburied, rats frolicked in uncollected rubbish and almost 30 million days were lost through strikes. I was not surprised when it emerged years later that he was selling Labour Party secrets to the Soviet Union.

I’m ashamed that – knowing what I knew – I didn’t vote for Mrs Thatcher in 1979, but my loathing of capital punishment led me to vote Liberal instead. Still, when I saw her on the steps of Downing Street, the day that coincidentally I changed career, I was delighted.

When I socialised next with senior ex-colleagues, they were in shock at having been instructed to read Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and think about how to free the market. It took a while, but the ablest and bravest of them became enthused by a prime minister who had a clear vision, mastered the briefs, debated robustly, won the debates fair and square, was a kind boss (unless you were a defeatist minister) and always took the public flak for difficult decisions.

As one of her cabinet secretaries put it, “she made us positive about the revitalisation of the British economy”. By the time she left office after 11 years, the UK economy was an inspiration to much of the world. She had also been a major and constructive player on the world stage, the Falklands victory over a malign dictatorship had made the UK respected again, she had revolutionised the status of women and had wrought a transformation even in the Labour Party.

She forgot, though, the part about how she, along with Reagan and the Pope, killed the USSR.

11 thoughts on “Voice Pitch”

  1. Thatcher was the same …high pitched, grating, irritating voice. She was told to notch it down. She got a voice coach and did exactly that. I know a lot of people who rejected Palin simply because they could not get past her voice.

    1. “Get out of the kitchen! How can I cook your dinner when you are always in the way? Your dinner will be ready when it’s ready.”

      From the Cook’s Voice as a mode of mine control, from the National Lampoon satire Doon of, gee, if I have to explain what I am talking about . . .

  2. Actually Palin’s proven ability to whip up large crowds (like at the 2008 Convention) disproves that calumny. This is not to say a voice coach would not be a benefit, but Palin is hated by some because she is conservative, religious, female, attractive, and did not go to an Ivy League school.

  3. Rand Simberg once proves that he can’t actually engage the point and instead chooses to rant and hurl personal invective. Let me add that there were many people who hated George W. Bush, including the way he looked, the way he spoke, and even the way he walked. But he won two presidential elections. Palin, in my opinion, would have at least had a better chance of winning in 2012 than the guy who was nominated to go up against Obama. I think she might have won, in point of fact.

    1. The fact that Palin could generate large rallies doesn’t mean that she couldn’t have generated even larger ones if she’d worked on her presentation, or that voice coaching wouldn’t have won over some people who couldn’t get past her voice, so didn’t really listen to what she had to say. And I agree that she would have been a better candidate than John McCain, even without voice coaching.

      But nothing you wrote is responsive to or rebuts what I wrote. Because, logic.

    2. Let me add that there were many people who hated George W. Bush, including the way he looked, the way he spoke, and even the way he walked. But he won two presidential elections.

      Eyeballs rolling.

      Bush won two Presidential elections by the thinnest possible margins, through a statistical fluke. It was sheer luck that one or both elections didn’t go the other way.

      Yet RINOs think that proves Bush and Rove were geniuses.

      Mark probably watched Get Smart and thought Max was a great spy, because he managed to defeat KAOS.

  4. I had my disagreements with Reagan, Thatcher and Bush the Younger but on key points they kept their eye on the ball. And for that, I thank them. RIP, PM.

  5. I wonder if the lower-pitched version of ex- Canadian PM (and contrabass) Brian Mulroney is even audible to anyone but elephants.

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