Listen to a few of the tracks listed below.
When you listen, really focus on the sound of the singer’s voice. Their rhythm, speed, pitch, their vocal patterns and intonations. Notice how the voice makes you feel. Do their voices feel calming or comforting to you? Do you notice any positive emotions or physical sensations as you listen?
If you’re unsure what to look out for, you can look at a list of positive or neutral sensation words here.
Chances Are by Johnny Mathis: https://youtu.be/55bg187az0U
Dreams by Imaginary Future: https://youtu.be/5qY0BzrDXp0
Invisible String by Taylor Swift: https://youtu.be/OuFnpmGwg5k
When the Smoke Clears by Kina Grannis: https://youtu.be/_rzyUb9JyO8
Hush My Darling by Nursery Rhymes 123: https://youtu.be/NRIK6MQU8FM
Someone to Watch Over Me by Ella Fitzgerald: https://youtu.be/GIAlBjHHhNQ
I’m Glad There Is You by Julie London: https://youtu.be/qcwHFY_6PyE
Wolf by First Aid Kit: https://youtu.be/oILduYYv7PY
From the Dining Table by Harry Styles: https://youtu.be/1ZxF_nA1SxQ
( i ) What we’re listening for is vocal prosody. When our nervous systems detect prosodic features in someone’s voice it triggers the nervous system out of the danger or shut down response and into the green zone. This is because the sound and intonation of a person’s voice has a powerful ability to send a signal of safety to the nervous system. Think of a mother calming an upset baby who doesn’t yet have the tools of language. It’s not what the mother says that is effective, but the soothing, comforting voice.
We can replicate this effect by listening to music by artists who display this same vocal prosody. The songs listed in this exercise have been chosen as they have specifically been found to contain these prosodic features. You might not like all the songs, and that’s totally okay. Just use this exercise to really listen and feel into whether any of their voices or melodies feel comforting or calming to you. Once you get an idea of which ones work for you, you can look out for other songs that give you a similar feeling when you listen to them, and can maybe even create yourself a prosodic playlist for you to access whenever you need it.