Saturday, January 20, 2007

Is Obama's vocal magic smoking related?

Our friend Slampo sent us this piece from Slate, which poses the question of whether Sen. Barack Obama might make smoking acceptable again.

Wouldn't it be a trip to see a presidential candidate crushing a stogie under his wingtip and blowing a final gush of gray cigarette smoke out before he assumed the lecturn to weave his magic?

Kinda like a rock star.

The piece makes note of something one our other friends, H. Brute of Sharptown, made note of in a comment the other day, which is how Dylan's voice changed when he tried to quite smoking before he recorded Nashville Skyline.

As for the Slate piece, it says of Obama's rich voice:
There are plenty of reasons for Obama's magic voice: where he grew up, how his parents talked, how he breathes. But perhaps most important is one Obama doesn't want to talk about: cigarettes. Obama is an occasional smoker.

Smoking over time transforms a person's voice by thickening and drying out the vocal chords. The vocal chords vibrate as your breath passes through them, so their texture and shape helps determine what your voice sounds like. David Witsell, who directs Duke University's Voice Care Center, notes that the nodules on Johnny Cash's vocal cords that stemmed in part from his smoking habit helped create his unique sound. "Many famous voices in history have pathologies that are part of their vocal signatures," Witsell says."

Slate poses this question: if Obama gives up his smokes for good, will it negative affect that sexy voice of his? What if he ends up sounding like Urkel? Or talkin' like Dyno-Mite Jimmy from "Good Times"?

1 comment:

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