While paying for a Christmas gift yesterday, I heard a voice I recognised from the adjacent till. My head jerked up as I checked whether I was correct. I was. ‘Hi Rach!’ I cried. We hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years but I still knew her voice.

I work for a voice specialist who sees people with throat problems. When patients call me to make appointments, their voices are often crackly, hoarse and husky. Many of them are ‘professional voice users’ – actors, singers, teachers, public speakers. Sometimes I’ve recognised famous voices ‘off the telly’ when they call to make appointments.

A voice is very personal. It is an integral part of who we are. If eyes are the windows of the soul, I guess that makes a voice the door of the soul! We can tell if our loved ones are excited or annoyed or down simply by the tone of their voice.

Even tiny babies can recognise their mother’s voice and other sounds they have heard regularly while in the womb.

But what about voices that aren’t oral and audible?

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