As I watched the first round of debates, Pete Buttigieg emerged as the vocal winner! In a round of “yellers” Kamala Harris won! Understand, Harris made excellent political decisions that catapulted her to the top of the field by 1) attacking Biden, which may hurt her later and 2) a ” First Formant Dominant” vocal approach that screamed above everyone else except Mayor Pete! Being heard is everything! And what politicians in the 21st century still do not understand, the Singer’s Formant is an emotional tool! Clinton had it! Gore did not! Obama had it! Hillary Clinton did not. Buttigieg has it and Harris does not!
The Singer’s Formant (SF) is nature’s way of communicating emotions. Politics is emotional! The SF requires depth (calming effect) and passion ( intensity) all at once. Mayor Pete communicates with calming depth and emotional involvement. Harris has emotion but not calm! As a black candidate in a race conscious America, Harris needs calm (depth). Both candidates are smart and both are compelling. However emotional ( genetic) response is encapsulated in the SF and Harris lacks it. The voice is fundamentally “shrill”. Yet Senator Harris can acquire it. There is time!
The SF is the means by which a baby, through crying tugs at the emotional core of its parents, indeed of any empathetic human being! While Harris and Buttigieg both are compelling on a polemic level, their success depends upon the ability to go beyond the tautological and leap directly to the voter’s emotional core. Kamala, despite her compelling argument, from a vocal pedagogy standpoint, ” she yells!” Pete vibrates!
I look forward to a Democratic ticket that includes them both. However, whether it be Buttigieg-Harris or Harris-Buttigieg depends greatly upon acoustic realities. Who excites America among democrats right now? Harris! Who calms America and whispers to its soul? Buttigieg (once Biden proves ineffective). Harris has a greater acoustic challenge in term of being trusted by a white electorate that needs calm and confidence but she does better with a First Formant dominant structure that heightens emotion. And that is considerable! Buttigieg will need to be less controlled emotionally if he wants to capture America’s heart! Especially Black America. But he has the vocal tools now. He needs to emphasize emotional harmonics if he will gain confidence from the African-American community. Rhetoric alone is not enough!