A baby’s cry pitched down

Posted on by Lene

My son alerted me to a the fascinating sound of a baby’s cry pitched down to a male adults voice. Listen here:

The sound of this crying appears quite bizarre, weird and even disturbing. That is because at the same time as sounding primal it sounds really ‘adult’. So although this crying is the expression of an infant who has not yet developed language, we perceive the sounds as coming from a mature adult. This presents a dichotomy.

It made me think of how the opposite can also be true. Last week I sang some songs for an adolescent client, who is severely disabled by a crippling condition. Lying in a bed helpless like a baby, this could easily make us perceive him as being at a kind of infant stage of development – certainly he is extremely dependent on others no doubt. I sang a few soothing lullaby-type songs for him, because he appeared to be in a quite restless state. This did not seem to change his disposition in any way, so I decided to sing a contemporary pop song to him more loudly and in a upbeat tempo. During the song I could sense very subtly that his face was lighting up and towards the end of the song his mouth beamed me a huge and beautiful smile. It was quite clear that he loved this style of music. This little event reinforced for me how important it is to use age-appropriate musical material in working with all our clients. Noone should never ever dumb down people just because they may be incapacitated, but aim higher and know that any 15-year-old may naturally be inclined to the types of music his contemporaries enjoy – at the right point in therapy of course. We are all humans travelling through the same life-stage developments.
Also, the information we deduct in communication with others, comes from a set of information we perceive, where either the words, pitch or even the silence between the words may become the predominant informant. Words, and even the the lack thereof, is only one small ingredient out of all the combined mechanisms (such as pitch, intonation, body language and facial expression) that make up our communication with each other!

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