It is not only in the visual mirror, but also in the “acoustic mirror”, the one through which we (mis)recognize ourselves when we (hear ourselves) speak, that we first learn to love ourselves in moments of narcissistic auto-affection, to feel a sense of self-regard. The voice is one of the privileged locations around which we develop a sense of personal identity. In sharp contrast to this however, Diderot’s “Rameau’s Nephew,” along with some of the audio files below, allow us perhaps to entertain the possibility of encountering a voice which is neither our own nor simply that of a neighbor, but rather a voice which is radically alien – a voice so strange it chills us, and yet which oddly strikes us at the same time as one we somehow recognize.
We call such a phenomenon an instance of the “uncanny”, that which is eerily all too familiar. The uncanny voice seems either to come from within us though it is not our own, or, conversely, it appears to come from outside ourselves though we oddly recognize it to be ours.
Alessandro Moreschi, The “Last Castrato”
(the real deal)
Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria”
(a contemporary falsetto counter-tenor)
George-Friedrich Handel’s “Xerxes”
(electronic musician, master of the Theremin)
Tschaikovsky’s “Valse Sentimentale”
(computerized synthesis of male falsetto and female true soprano)
Georg-Friedrich Handel – “Cara Sposa”