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The Proxemics of the Mediated Voice

The author starts the article by highlighting the importance of voice in everyday communication, particularly the fact that it can be used to define the communicative distance between the listener and the talker. He states the aim of the article as being an attempt to address the difficulties arising out of the lack of regard for the spatial properties of a voice, raising the questions of adequately addressing the vocal distance or closeness between the listener and the speaker, the effect of technological manipulation on the emotional interpretation of the voice’s communicative distance, and the differences between non-mediated and mediated voices.

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Section one of the article then describes how spatial characteristics of the sound of a voice and its loudness are the main factors granting the capacity of speech to signify a communicative relationship between people. It is followed by the explanation of specific factors, such as volume, frequency, and the amount of reflection, which we use to evaluate spatial characteristics of a voice.

Maaso then shows how the studies of vocal expression are mostly limited to natural, unmediated voices, whereas the analysis of sound and communication in film and TV is lacking. The author argues that it is important to explore mediated communication, as the very use of a microphone or a recording device can change spatial characteristics of the voice, thus affecting the communication between the speaker and the audience. Therefore, proxemics of the voice itself in the analysis of mediated voices should be complemented by the characteristics of the recording technology, such as its loudness and any sounds contributed.

Maaso proposes three levels of analysis of mediated voices: vocal distance, microphone perspective, and intended earshot. The author then presents some examples from a study, which tested various types of mediated voices by the proposed analytical system. For instance, he states that the analysis helps do identify some specific features of certain media types, such as the evident prevalence of intimate address in TV ads. Finally, the exploration of the sources allowed Maaso to form another hypothesis, suggesting that the interpretation of the mediated voices’ proxemics is the result of a schizophonic average of the vocal distance, microphone perspective, and the intended earshot.

Overall, the article provides a useful starting point for the analysis of mediated voices. It highlights the importance of addressing mediated voices separately from natural voices and proposes the tools for analysis, which have proved to be useful in the study. This analysis system could add another level of depth to the analysis of film, music, and other media that involves the use of recorded voice. The theoretical advantages of such analysis, however, are also supplemented by the practical options, which could benefit from the employment of the proposed technique.

The fundamental aim of the method is to analyze the differences in how the audience perceives mediated voices in comparison with non-mediated. One of the most significant applications would be for all kinds of persuasive TV programs. By examining the impression that the mediated voice generates on the audience, it would be possible for the producers of these programs to choose the most advantageous tactics to reach the audience, which would ensure increased effectiveness of the persuasive techniques used in the programs. Therefore, it is clear that the proposed analysis system addresses the issue, which has not only theoretical importance but also practical value, which makes it a particularly useful read.

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