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White people and black people's voices.

  1. Jun 8, 2009 #1
    What makes a white person's voice and a black person's voice sound different? Usually you can tell if a person is white or black by the sound of their voice, though there are exceptions.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 8, 2009 #2


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    It's probably a safe bet that the melanin content doesn't apply to the vocal cords. Although I think it's a poor question, I will say that you are more likely making the determination from the way a person is talking, ie dialect, inflection rather than some physiological difference. This can stem from cultural, regional, first learned language differences and more.
  4. Jun 9, 2009 #3
    When the OP used the term "black people", he meant, say, the average genotype of all naively born Liberians (or whatever), or something to that affect. The answer is most likely a slight difference in vocal cords architecture, like the way adults have a deeper voice than children.
  5. Jun 9, 2009 #4
    Since I believe I can tell the difference between a Ghanaian and a Liberian accent, I think the OP somehow misidentified the cause.
  6. Jun 9, 2009 #5
    Are we talking about accent or pitch of voice?
  7. Jun 9, 2009 #6
    The OP just said "different". If he wants to be more specific, I could address that.
  8. Jun 9, 2009 #7
    Yeah. I'm talking about the pitch of voice, not accent.
  9. Jun 9, 2009 #8
    So, you're saying you hear a difference in pitch between Blacks and Whites? I don't have a good reference handy at the moment, but most otolaryngologists/audiologists find no significant difference in F0 between Blacks and Whites in the US, when corrected for cultural differences. Are you perhaps keying onto something else?
  10. Jun 9, 2009 #9


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    Africans, African-Americans and Europeans have similar ranges in pitch, so pitch is not dependent on the race. James Earl Jones has a wonderfully deep voice, and I have a similarly deep voice.
  11. Jun 9, 2009 #10
    White people typically have higher voices while black people have deeper voices. Of course there are exceptions.
  12. Jun 9, 2009 #11
    And you have some proof other than Aaron Neville and Bowzer?
  13. Jun 9, 2009 #12
    I think the social coherence forces are stronger than most people think. You tend to speak how people like you speak. This might already explain most of the effect. Putting people in a uniform makes them feel like soldiers, having dark skin makes people feel as being part of a racial group, and they copy it's accent.
    Some black soul singers sing awfully high, as with other genetic things like intelligence I think the variance is much higher than the difference between the means.
  14. Jun 9, 2009 #13


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    That's nonsense. Motown singers like Smokie Robinson, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye (perhaps my favorite), Al Green, . . . . all had high voices. The various Isley Brothers represented different predominant registers and vocal ranges.

    Listen to the Who's That Lady by the Isley Brothers

    The look at African-American comedians like Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson, Chris Rock, . . . who have high voices.

    As far as I can tell the range of pitch is considerably varied in any racial or ethnic group.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  15. Jun 9, 2009 #14

    You do realize how utterly nonsensical this query is?

    Can you tell the difference between a black Estonian's voice and a White South African's?


    The difference between a White Brazilian's and a Black Swedes' voice?


    What about that of a White Nigerian and a Black uruguayan?

    You are aware that such people can and do exist, correct?

    It would only take one test of any of the pairs above to utterly falsify your claim.

    Perhaps you should get out more....
  16. Jun 9, 2009 #15


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    This thread is nonsense, therefore it is closed.
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