Audio-psycho-phonology and aestheticism

1st National Conference of professional aesthetics, Madrid - 16-21 Oct. 78

Dr Bernard M. Auriol

(translated by Béatrice Bonzom-Gourc)

This compound term makes reference to the fact that the voice is not only a carrier of clear conceptual meaning, of unconscious implications (which emergence is particularly clear in the lapsus) but also of intrinsic meaning, of more veiled implications at the tone level, the singing of the language, the rhythm, the assonances, etc....Even at that level, it appears a relationship with the aesthetics : the voice is a more subtle reflection of the soul, using no special effects compared to the face features or the glance. Such person whom eye beauty dazzles and attracts can be repulsively ugly when he opens his mouth. Conversely, some voices capture and hold one’s attention, going so far as to forget some unattractive visual features.... Then, if we consider it, the aesthetician should take care of the voice of her customers as well as their skin!

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Therefore, the voice depends on the psychology of the speaking subject and gives an image. Nevertheless its spontaneity is not entire but is the result of education! The deaf persons who cannot make sure of the real nature of their sounds’ emissions get often an unpleasant voice to hear, poor, without tone and nuances. Thus, the control of the voice by the ear gets a fundamental significance that the Pr.Tomatis has brought to the fore, showing that we speak as we hear. It is easy to draw the surprising assumption that we hear according to our personality : the way of hearing is different from one person to the other one, as well as the way of speaking ! The matter gets even complicated if we consider that beyond the level of “hearing” we can show the one of “listening to” : there is none so deaf as he who will not hear. This is right not only globally speaking but according to sounds nuances, to such or such frequency of the sound spectrum, etc...

It seems that it exists three auditory areas clearly enough distinctive and recognized by several disciplines : Low-pitched sounds, Middle sounds High-pitched sounds. This sharing out may correspond to functional data of the Middle ear : in fact two very small but very active muscles are ensuring continuously a regulation of the hearing, it is the Stirrup and Hammer muscles of which the more or less extensive tensing adjusts the tension of the eardrum and the cohesion of the ossicles’ chain.

The assumption of the Pr.Tomatis is that one of these muscles ensures a better hearing of the high-pitched, the other one a better hearing of the low-pitched. In fact, main factors, of the treatment of the information, have to be added to it as it couldn’t be explained on another way the clear distinction of the middles area and more particularly the one of some restricted wave of frequency or other. Nevertheless, this assumption has proved its very extensive operating powers since it has led to the Electronic Ear invention.

This appliance allows to send some sounds to a subject (registered music, human voice, personal voice of the subject) under two forms according to the intensity that belongs to him. When the sound is not much intense, it is distorted by the appliance towards a relaxing effect: the low-pitched are reinforced against the high-pitched (a). When the intensity of the original sound exceeds a given threshold (adjustable), the appliance gives an opposite distortion, reinforcing the high frequencies to the detriment of the low ones.

On one hand, the distortion of « a » type corresponds to the deafened hearing of the elderly (or usually to the beginner deafness). Furthermore, we find this way of hearing among the depressive or very tired persons whose voice lacks in resonance (voice not very rich in high harmonics, monotonous, etc).

On the other hand, the distortion of « b » type is found among highly talented singers, the person who have a good ear for music and also among dynamic persons, optimistic in a realistic way, self-confident.

The audio-psycho-phonological method uses continuously this appliance that, little by little, modifies the way of hearing and of speaking, leading the patients from an hearing of distortion “a” to an hearing of distortion “b”. This term of distortion in the “b” case means that the hearing gains the sharpness and the subtlety of a good ear for music.

Simultaneously to this hearing change, we observe that the voice is becoming warmer, more resonant, more natural. If it was hoarse or “bitonal”, not resonant, half tone, etc, it becomes correct again. From this point of view it is striking to notice how a similar verbal content can become significant, be heard or on the contrary going unnoticed according to the voice that speaks is of “a” or “b” type! Of course this method has been applied firstly to some deafness or muteness with psychological origin but very promptly it was spread to the treatment of the speech, singing and dyslexia disorders, etc...Progressively we realize it significance in the depressive disorders among adults, school difficulties (that represent often an hidden depression among children), some serious neurosis, some mental illness (chronic delirium), drug addiction and real psychosomatic disorders (stomach ulcer, rectocolitis, asthma, etc).

This method allows to state the existence of a very deep relationship between the hearing, the posture and the mental attitude. Thus the listening to high-pitched frequencies is favoured by (and favours) a particular posture or “hearing posture” that is furthermore closely akin to the more ancient spiritual traditions which advocated already this straightness of the vertebral column with partial erasing of the physiological lordosis at the neck and kidney level. Simultaneously the face muscles recover an adapted tonus, without steepness that aims to get this fine smiling stamped with an infinite serenity that can be noted in the most beautiful representations of the Christ or of the Buddha.

The limp sights of the expression, some ill-favoured creases witnesses of the accumulated anxiety and of the continuous anguish tend to disappear. Furthermore we can also realize a kind of muscular training to this “hearing posture” : bascule of the pelvis in order to learn how to erase the lumbar lordosis, exercice called “of the little bun” that consists in imagining that a little chignon at the top of the head pulls the hair and the skin of the face, including the ears that then we learn to heighten and even to stick back in the case of “big flappy ears”. These exercices can be done with the eyes closed or sometimes, in front of a “Objective”mirror (at the reverse mirror). This tool allows to see oneself as others see us, like the photograph, the cinema or the television shows us.

In fact with the usual mirror, the image that we get of ourselves is reversed : when I raise my left arm, it puts up his right arm. On the contrary the “objective’ mirror gives an image that raises his right arm (to my left) when I put up my right arm. This tool can be used in the frame of the electronic ear but also could be used during some aesthetic care. It has the advantage of reducing and suppressing progressively the face dissymmetries of which the subject takes care when he watches himself whereas he had no consciousness by his usual image reflected by the mirror. Thus, the face dissymmetries are at times very ill-favoured and up to now we haven’t had a simple way to correct them.

Another factor of great interest for aesthetics, in audio-psycho-phonology, lies in the accurate knowledge of the sounds influence on the human body. First at all the well-known harmfulness of the noise of which the aesthetics rooms “warm”enough your customers allow them from that time to take benefit of the care without too much muscular tensions interferences.

But to leave the noise for the silence is only profitable if this silence is temporary. It can be more interesting to use sounds accurately chosen. Some important commercial firms have been among the first ones to detect the benefit that sounds duly handled can have on their business. In this way, “Muzak” is specialized in the production of registered bands which sound material is made up of songs or fashionable tune that are taken up on the computer so as to change the tone, the lenght, the intensities. This firm produces a music that we hear without listening to it devoid of excessive strong variations of intensities, reduced drastically of low and high frequencies, slowed down very slightly, etc....

In fact these musics put the customer in a sort of trance and lead him to adopt a conformist attitude on which the impact of the advertisement and the incentive to the purchasing become maximum. Such programmes with adapted characteristics, can be provided also if it is question of ensuring a regular output of the office workers or workers that work in a quiet atmosphere. The Muzak sounds organized at the medium level and distorted in their intensity and rhythm are adapted to the surroundings where we are, they made of us quite acceptable citizens, closed to what predicted Aldous Huxley in “the worlds’ best”. Nevertheless some thresholds of the society, concerned with the fact of freeing themselves from the “right-thinking” ways create, listen to and spread abroad the musics of the Pop-Folk class in which the intensities are physiologically excessive and the low-pitches outrageously favoured up to obtain strong abdominal or thoracic variations. Such “treatments” on one way “beat one’s brains out” those who listen to them : thus they find themselves deprived , according to their desire, from the structures that represent the “inside itself” of their personality the ideals , prohibitions and directives from their Fathers. Simultaneously the rebellion, the eroticism, the aggressiveness express themselves and are spreading out and if we go further, the relaxation, the tiredness, the emptiness, the absence of disorders, a nirvana made of blank.......

On the contrary the sounds with high-pitched frequency (Tomatis therapy) generates the dynamism and the strengthening of the structures of the personality. It seems to me that it will not be stupid to consider the aesthetic rooms fitted with adapted sounds system in such a way that suggested sounds are above 2000 Hz when the face area is treated or on the contrary below 700 Hz when it is question of removing the hair from ones legs.
Furthermore a researcher has proved that the sounds produced from a middle to a high power (from 50 to 70 db) and with a very low-pitched frequency (below to 200 Hz) could further the dental and obstetric analgesia as well as the removal of hair. An adaptation of this technique could allow usefully to reduce the little pain of the removal of hair without using meanings considered as strictly medical.

Conclusion :

I hope that this work will be the beginning which allows to arouse the interest of the aestheticians for the sounds aera of which I think to have shown the very closeness that they got with their activity.
Actually, we could see that the close connection linking up the hearing, the psyche and the voice was not without repercussions on the beauty of this last one.Furthermore, the quality of the voice cannot be dissociated from the quality of the posture (bearing, to hold one’s head) and from the expression (wrinkles, dissymmetries). Lastly some specific sounds get so powerful and specific effects that they could contribute usefully, not only to the setting up of the psychological right mood for the aesthetic care, but also to the deepness and quality of these care !


Psychosonique Yogathérapie Psychanalyse & Psychothérapie Dynamique des groupes Eléments Personnels

© Copyright Bernard AURIOL (email : )

2 Février 2006