Principles of Audio-Psycho-Phonology

05/10/2015 21:50

Over decades of research activity, the ENT specialist Alfred Tomatis demonstrated the primordial role of our auditory organ in human development and the effect of the ability to hear on the way people feel.

What is the Tomatis Effect ?

Tomatis began his studies and experiments with human hearing towards the end of the 1940s. At that time his father was a well-known opera singer and, through him, many singers with voice problems and occupationally-induced hearing loss came to him for treatment. Tomatis carried out frequency analyses of the voice and hearing and made a surprising discovery: poorly heard frequencies were less present in the voice than other frequencies.

This finding led to the first TOMATIS law :

• The voice contains, as overtones, only frequencies the ear hears.
• In order to be able to help his patients with their voice and hearing problems, Tomatis developed a hearing simulator with which hearing and hence the voice can be corrected using various filters and amplifiers. By amplifying the poorly heard frequencies and allowing the singers to sing into the microphone while simultaneously listening to their corrected voice through headphones, the loss of frequency of the voice was immediately corrected.

The scientist formulated the results of these experiments in the second TOMATIS law :

If the ear is given the opportunity to correctly hear again frequencies that are no longer perceived or no longer properly perceived, these reappear in the voice instantaneously and unconsciously.

When the singer then sang without a headphone or a frequency corrector, his or her voice problems reoccurred immediately. This prompted Tomatis to delve more deeply into the matter. He looked for the ”ideal sense of hearing“ and elaborated criteria for the ideal hearing curve. After he had defined the parameters for the ideal singer’s ear he constructed an apparatus to condition the ear – the prototype of the “Electronic Ear“, in order to make the Tomatis effect permanent.

This work led to the third TOMATIS law :

• The acoustic stimulation, repeated for a predetermined length of time, leads to a permanent change in hearing and hence phonation.
In 1957 the Academy of Sciences and Medicine in Paris recognized the three TOMATIS laws under the term the “Tomatis Effect“.