The Musicality of People

 Fer Shurr! How to Be A Valley Girl! My ‘misfortune’ action pack comes equipped with experiencing the musicality of a person. I’m serious about the use of the word misfortune because experiencing people in this manner is not very pleasant—especially here in the post-1970s pop culture of the United States. When you have memories of trying to “fit in” during your adolescent years in some crappy public school, then you may quickly assume that I should just make myself stop experiencing people in this manner—or to really make you one of most intimate mates you would accuse me of pretending to be annoyed by such experiences for some bizarre-ass reasons that are not worth my words of speculation.

My apologies: when you meet rasx() your musicality will me experienced by me. Everyone has a sound—just like we hear musicians. When we stop confining ourselves to people who get up on stage and play for money, we start to get holistic about this music thang. So the key is that you listen to others and imitate while you are young but as you get older you start to form your unique sound—and it’s rasx() that thinks he knows when your sound is fake and you are still locked into the imitation phase.

 The Funky Afro-Momma `n` The Little Blonde KidThere is also a design goal behind the sound of a person. So when rasx() is “thinking too much” (like you know the exact amount to think), a vision comes to me about why you sound the way you sound. So in many cases not only is the sound unpleasant but also my reasons why you sound that way is worse. So instead of describing how you (not really you—but a rhetorical you) sound so… well, you know… let’s touch upon the unpleasant design goals:

  • You are ashamed of your ethnic or “racial” background so you developed a sound to address this issue you are attempting to conceal. (In the United States, this voice is basically the voice every news anchor who began their career in the 1980s uses. I’m not sure that the state of Mississippi has a local news broadcast but watching one show should make my point.)

  • You developed a voice as a child that is optimized to get the attention of your mother and similar supporters and you saw no reason to lose this voice because it has been so successful. (In the United States, this voice matures into the Valley Girl Voice—and it must be stressed that American males speak with this voice just as much as females.)

  • You developed a voice as a child that is not designed to get the attention of your mother—because your mother was all over you. This means you have no need to raise your voice such that people other than your mother can hear you.

  • You developed a strategy to starve your vocal cords of air such that your voice croaks and drones like Henry Kissinger. To me this is symbolic of the Western intellectual tradition to cleanly divide the “mind” from the body—destroying a whole-person unity of the seen and unseen self. It is very, very strange to hear young women speaking like this.

  • You developed an adolescent strategy to never express certainty because others will ridicule you for showing any sign of leadership—so you adopt a crafty stealth mode. (In the United States, this is a variant of the Valley Girl voice except you twist almost every sentence upward like you are asking a question but you are actually making a statement.)

  • You developed a strategy to fight over scraps like hyenas piling on top of a carcass—so you know how to speed up and peak the volume in your voice to quickly shout others down so fast that few notice what just happened.

  • You come from different culture with a foundationally different sense of musicality and you are simply expressing that diversity with sincerity available for my respect—but not my enjoyment. I’m sure you would feel the same way about my sound.My speaking voice comes and goes. At my best, you have a stage-actor, booming, rumbling thang, full of bass and diction. At my worst (which has been most of the time), you have a slurring, mumbling stuttering mass of inward struggle. Here are some famous and not-so-famous speaking voices that impress me:

  • James Earl Jones (another one with the ‘Moses stutter’)

  • Harry Connick Junior (one of the few Euro Americans who really, authentically sounds cool while speaking)

  • I’m secure enough in my sexuality to say that Prince has an excellent speaking voice—my ignorant assumption is that he is optimized to speak to women, a design goal that gets much respect. But mentioning Prince is actually cheating because he’s an accomplished musician.

  • Jaha Zainabu, a poet here in the kinté space (listen to “Jaha Zainabu: Journey”)

  • The mother of my third child, Tasha Thomas (professionally known as Khenemet User-t in a previous gig). She’s got that woman’s soulful bass voice. This is distinguished from the sometimes scary bass of Jazz musician Cassandra Wilson.

  • Jeremy Irons did a great job with his voice in Brideshead Revisited. He’s a reminder that real, professional actors speak their lines like how a Jazz soloist takes the spotlight and does a couple of bars.

  • And I can only wish there was a way to point you to the voice of Saundra Quarterman here in the Internet but that’s another story…