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Chances are that you and your friends haven’t sat around lately talking about your voices unless one of you has bronchitis or is an opera singer. By the way, hot tea with honey, which I am drinking now with my chocolate chip cookie, is soothing for a sore throat.

Picking voice talent for radio commercials was once part of my job as an advertising copywriter. It was great fun and offered some surprises, especially when booking men. Sometimes a deep, lush voice made me think of a tall, handsome man. But when the talent arrived to record, he might be short and only cute. It didn’t matter because this was radio.

One time I had to find a voice to fit a funny monster toy. I had no idea who the man was that I had booked until he walked in and I saw that he was famous for playing a monster on television.  I chose talent from sound tapes sent to me by agents.

What got me started thinking about voices was a phone call. I was calling, I thought, a man who does home repairs, but I made a mistake and called the phone of his grown son. I know them both well and they both have the same name. One is Junior. The call was one of those French farces where everything gets mixed up, because I thought I was talking to his dad. After I got off the phone, I realized that although he sounds much like his dad, his voice is quite a bit deeper.

Many of us sound like one of our parents but none of us sound exactly like another person. Voices are as unique as fingerprints and are often used that way for security identification purposes. But then, you probably know that.

My mother and I sounded so much like each other that my dad could never tell the difference when he phoned home. In fact, dad hated telephones and never asked for someone and never said goodbye. He just started talking when he heard a voice and hung up when he felt the conversation was over. It was just his telephone manners; he was really a very sweet, well-mannered man under other circumstances. His telephone style made for some very confusing conversations.

Some people just have a knack for hearing the differences in voices and others do not. It just happened that I can distinguish. As soon as I was old enough to answer the phone at home, I knew who was calling even if I had heard the voice only once before. My mother was president of a women’s business association and she got a lot of calls from different women. It was rare that I didn’t know right away who on the other end of the phone call. This difference in voices is very obvious between singers, of course, and the same can be said of professional speakers such as actors.

Identical twins can be the exception. It might take voice printing to figure out if they sound the very same.

Anyway, you might try identifying voices.  It can be fun and challenging.

COMING NEXT:  Things That Make Us Laugh