Once again, Eldest had managed to riddle my PC with viruses. I tried writing an iPad post last week but it is very hard work. I can't work out how to scroll properly so end up posting and re-editing numerous times. Sorry.
Anyway, yesterday I got my creative writing course homework. We were handed a poem called In the House of the Voice of Maria Callas and told to pick someone else famous for their voice. We now have to create a 500 word story along the lines of said poem, which uses images of what and how Callas sang. To say I am confused... I did not do well with my story this week. Everyone else had had two weeks to hone their stories. They are not doing childcare during half term! So I really need to shine on this....
It did get me thinking about voice and its impact though. Initially, we had to firstly name three people and then choose one. Someone at the class has chosen a nineteenth century castrato singer and someone else has chosen Plato. However, to me, the inspiration for this task needs to come from hearing the voice for oneself. I had put down Churchill, Callas (not knowing what was coming!), Sinatra, Olivier and Garbo. Lots of people chose Churchill which goes to show the effect that oration has on listeners. I doubt if any of the class were more than babies when Churchill died and his most famous speeches were fifteen years before that. So I have chosen Frank Sinatra, thinking that I could attempt something Italian and/or mafia related. We shall see.
On a family history tack though, it is very interesting to speculate on future family historians' available resources. No longer will it be finding a rare cine film of an ancestor. If the internet continues to store data at the current rate, they will be able to find chapter and verse for sight and sound of their ancestors - even, if their kin were so inclined, footage of actual births! Personally, I don't have any film or sound sources of which I am aware. My family have no cine films to digitise. We did not even have one of the big clunky 1980s video cameras. The first film I took was of my husband crashing whilst attempting to water ski on holiday. I also have a old video cassette with an ultra sound of my son in the womb. Although, as Chandler says in Friends when confronted with similar, it does look a bit like a film of an alien ship about to attack the Starship Enterprise!
We should save voice though - now that we can. Imagine if I could hear my nineteenth century ancestors! What about even my grandparents' voices? I have a strong memory of what I believe to be my Anglo Indian grandmother's voice but how does one know if it is correct without a comparison? Her voice was of the "sing song" Indian-speaking-English-type. [Apparently there are stories of Anglo Indians trying to get into British clubs in India, only to be turned away not because of their skin tone but because their voices gave them away.] Certainly, many of Nana's expressions did bear a strong resemblance to those used by Indian and Pakistani families that we knew. And my grandparents' siblings and cousins - my only comparison at the time - were very similar. I have nothing from my maternal side either, despite having even met one of my great grandmother's on that side.
As you will know from previous posts, we recently lost my father in law. At the moment it is still his voice on their answerphone. My husband is not up to hearing this often at the moment. However, I am desperate to find a way to preserve it for him. We have little film or sound of his dad. There is some, in old age with the grandchildren. But very little of his music or his voice in earlier years. He was a councillor but we have no footage of speeches.
Voice has a huge impact on how we feel about someone. Look at David Beckham's much squeakier early voice (surely he has had lessons to deepen his tone!) and Margaret Thatcher, whose voice got lower (and more patronising!) every year, it seemed. I do hope that data from Facebook and other social media will survive, not because our descendants should see all our selfies and moaning and jokes and so on. But because recording voice is a pretty painless way of preserving a little bit of personality.