Speech after the Removal of the Larynx
September 16, 2019 6:22 PM   Subscribe

Smithsonian Folkways Records, 1964, ctlg. FW06134 The album was recorded by physician Harm A. Drost at the Phonetic Laboratory of the Ear, Nose, and Throat Dept. of the University Hospital, Leiden, in the Netherlands, working under the direction of Professor H. A. E. van Dishoeck. As the advances were fairly new and surprisingly varied, Drost felt a phonograph album demonstrating the techniques would be useful for those in the field. Buccal speech (limited to certain consonants), parabuccal speech (collecting air in a space between the upper jaw and the cheek), glosso-pharyngeal speech (a method deemed obsolete where air is forced between the tongue and the palate), esophageal voice (made by reconditioning one's esophagus via swallowing, suction, or injection), various injection techniques and devices such as the larynxophone, pipa di tichioni, and "western electric" are all explored here, along with other aspects of the larynx and its absence. [YouTube Playlist | Spotify]
Fantôme Phonographique present a reissue of Speech After The Removal Of The Larynx, originally released by Smithsonian Folkways in 1964.

The larynx or voice box is a small organ located towards the top of the neck in humans and some other animals. Constructed largely of cartilage, it houses the vocal folds that allow for the manipulation of pitch and volume, which are essential for the phonation of spoken speech. It is also involved in bringing air to the lungs when you breathe and it protects the windpipe when you swallow.

However, those unfortunate to experience the potentially fatal malignant tumors of laryngeal cancer will have their larynx removed, resulting in a traumatic loss of speech; thankfully, as this rare record issued by Smithsonian Folkways in 1964 demonstrates, removal of the larynx does not necessarily spell the end of speech for such blighted individuals. Instead, through developments in artificial voice creation, patients could learn to employ modes of vocal communication again. [Forced Exposure]
Tracklisting (note that some tracks may be coupled within a single Youtube link, due to brevity)
1 Coloratura Soprano Singer
2 Man Without Larynx
3 Buccal Speech
4 Parabuccal Speech
5 Singing Voice

6 Glossopharngeal Speech
7 Frogsound

8 Esophageal Voice pt. 1; pt. 2
9 Injection--Basic Sound Two Times
10 Basic Sound Of The Esophageal Voice
11 Basic Sound Of The Esophageal Voice, An Octave Lower
12 Esophageal Voice By Telephone
13 Singing Voice With Larynxphone
14 Pipa Di Tichioni
15 Western Electric
posted by nightrecordings (5 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
The album liner notes are fascinating.
posted by zamboni at 6:54 PM on September 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was unnerved by the term "various artists," but these really are arts.

The man with the esophageal voice sounds German to me, and very well-spoken. I wonder if those are artifacts of this method of speech and the fact that he has to concentrate on every word.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:02 PM on September 16, 2019

My uncle had something like this before I was born—the closest that comes to his speech is the glossopharngeal sample, but it's not quite what I remember.

I couldn't really grok much of what he said until I was 10 or so. Well, that is a lie, the swear words came out clearly, as did his laughter. He was also an excellent emoter and gesticulated wildly, which helped get his point across.

I miss him, he and his wife were such characters.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:19 PM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

First, do no Harm.
posted by spitbull at 2:42 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm in the middle of my unit on speech production, so this is very well-timed. Thanks!

This isn't complete removal of larynx, but similar issues-- I had some temporary paralysis in my vocal cords after thyroid surgery which I recovered from after a couple of weeks. My mom had a similar surgery, but wasn't so lucky--they had to severe a nerve. Your vocal cords need to touch slightly to vibrate; if one of them can't move (or technically, can't be moved, but simplifying here), you can't phonate. She basically had to whisper, which combined with my dad's hearing loss (which affects his ability to hear high frequency noise, which is what whispering is), made for some very frustrating weeks/months. She ended up getting an implant: if you bulk up the paralyzed cord, the other one can touch it, and you can get vibrations going.
posted by damayanti at 6:55 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

« Older "How Do You Impeach a President?"   |   "They didn’t think I’d go out there and pitch with... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments