(Invoice- "envoi" 1, 2 et 3)
Development of the listening and of the voice

Dr Bernard Auriol

translated by Beatrice Bonzom-Gourc

In voice ( The ear and the making )

This is the ear that makes the right instrument maker, the right instrument’s builder. the singer’s instrument, his organ, his organ instrument, this is his voice! The making of the voice is given thanks to the ear of the subject! There is only to listen a deaf person : his voice points him out as abnormality. Therefore he feels better using the signs of his own language. Signs that he controls, instead of, abandoning the sounds, without knowing if their target has been reached.

The following laws were put forward by Tomatis :

  1. the voice is only embodied by what the ear hears
  2. if we modify the hearing, the voice is immediately and unconsciously modified.
  3. It is possible to alter the phonation by an auditory stimulation maintained during a definite period of time.

These « laws » are not without some truth, even if there is some discussion with regard to the degree of this truth!
Let’s go (on the way)


Source : Would Mozart have become Boulez if his mother had to take the underground ?

As the hearing comes out very early, and even during the uterine life, the building up of the voice starts before the birth! It will be enhanced in its quality by the vocal exercices of the mother (cf.ML Aucher) and by the main surroundings of noise in which it stands.

It has been shown that the intra-uterine sounds’ experiences could have effect on the future behaviour of the children. The foetus can respond to the sounds at least since the second term of pregnancy. The very young babies recognize the voice of their mother. They register the characteristic features of this voice up to the detail of the tonic and of the pitch’s structures.

De Casper et coll. have shown that (1986) the passages of a text read in an iterative way during the last term of the pregnancy of the mother, were the favourite of the baby after the birth, in comparison with other passages which were not used....

Children that have heart a story in a repeated way in the womb of their mother were more sucking at the hearing of this story whereas the ones who were not trained to this story did not make any differences with the other one.

Spence and coll (1987) have shown also that the babies who were trained to a story before the birth enjoyed this filtered story with “low-pass”   as much as the same non filtered text, whereas the babies who did not hear the story did not appreciate this filtering with “low-pass”.

Perceptive segregation

Children, as well as adults, when they hear a suite of notes alternating quickly between two areas of pitch, split them into two perceptive trends.

Did he cry out immediately ? 

This is the usual question of the paediatrician in order to know if the baby was conscious at the birth. This hymn should be heart, even if crying is not singing!

Instantly, if it exists, this cry makes sense ! The wails, the cries are dependent on the situation and inform the people around (particularly the mother) on a discomfort state or on the need of the baby (hunger, pain, hyperstimulation, loneliness, etc.). Three kind of cry can be classified:

1.      Normophonation : cry of which the main frequency rises by between 200 and 600 Hz, with a regular intensity, going with lower and highter frequencies of lesser intensity. It lasts around one second and half ; it comes after a rough wheezing inspiration. (this is a common call ; for instance, when the baby is hungry or is wet, or expression of joy).

2.      Dysphonation : raucous cry with a rough appearance. The baby makes it by giving more strength to the air that he sends through his vocal cords ; as a result turbulences are produced and are translated into distortions of the usual wavebands. (This is a critical call, for instance in case of pain ; the listener can understand it as  rage or anger).                                                     

3.      Hyperphonation : cry whose resonance alters suddenly. It becomes very high-pitched, wheezing and is corresponding to a major distress state, important pain, frustration.It can be compared to the chimpanzee’s cries of distress which are made up of eight harmonics and of which the energy is focused on high frequencies (from 6 to 8 kHz) (Goustard, 1982).

Babies with a low weight at birth, premature or not (intra-interine suffering ?), those who show a physiological state of weakness (“risk” children) and , more particularly any children considered as “more difficult” by their mother (Zeskind and Lester,1978), express themselves on a more “calling” way , more “ grating” and with more high-pitched in an acoustic way. Their cries are longer, are more frequent and comes near the hyperphonation especially since the situation is more serious.

Most of the time mothers are able to recognize their baby by his way of crying and even can awaken only for him, keeping on sleeping  when other babies are crying (Formby, 1967). It doesn’t take more than two or three days for the most part of mothers in order that they get to recognize the tears and the cries of their babies (Cismaresco, 1986).  From three weeks, they know what is the meaning of “tear way” : the simple desire to draw attention. It is translated into prolonged groanings to which the mother is not answering always, waiting for their appeasement or their alteration in real tears.

Bell and Ainsworth (1972) have shown that these distinctive characteristics of wailing could alter during the first year of the life according to the maternal attitude : the more quickly she answers, the less she “lets cry”, and the more the frequency and the duration of the cries and wailing are decreasing. Furthermore, the more the baby keeps on crying and wailing, the less he shows himself to be able to communicate by other vocal forms of communication.
It has been decided to use selected musics, from the maternal or the paternal voice, from beatings (rumbling in one’s stomach), etc., so as to ease the wailings of the newborn or of the nursling. All these attempts have lead to success ; furthermore it seems that any sound, not too much deep, can have a soothing effect on the wailings of the baby ; these last ones form a call and the moderate noise gets a reassuring function, maybe linked to the presence that it calls (Bench, 1969). Low-pitched sounds (that remind the uterine life?) get an effect more soothing than the high-pitched frequencies.
Around one month
The baby stops crying when we speak to him. He tries his hand at making small throaty sounds : “lé-lé” or “la-la” (babble). As we have already noticed among newborn, he recognizes some phonemes nevertheless very related to others such as “p” and “b”.


Around two months : the babble


As soon as they get two months, children are able to compare- very clearly- the pitch of the songs that their mother sings to them.
We demonstrate among the adults the recognition of octave, which consists of setting apart very easily two pairs of sounds of which one of them is made up of two notes with the octave of the other one, whereas the second pair is made of two separated notes by less than one octave. Children are able to get it also!
The newborn stands still or turns his head when we speak to him. He sends out separated sounds (oral and particularly front vowels : “ah”, “eh”, “oh”) in a isolated or occasional way, often throaty, small brief and clear sounds and some whinings of pleasure. Among the consonants (sometimes difficult to be transcribed phonetically) : " p ", " b ", " t/d ", " rr " (Campos, 1988). Even in their more primitive form, these singings (babble) are not without structure or made up at random ; on the contrary, these efforts of beginners will ensure the basis of the future achievements, even if they seemed very sophisticated1 (1).



Psychosonique Yogathérapie Psychanalyse & Psychothérapie Dynamique des groupes Eléments Personnels

© Copyright Bernard AURIOL (email : )

19 Mai 2005