Music, in all its complexities, genres, types, and styles, relies on three dimensions to provide order to what otherwise would be chaos. The three dimensions of music describe the difference between the clatter of banging pots and pans and a cohesive quartet or full symphony in all its majesty and beauty. The same three dimensions of music can be applied to dynamic public speaking.
Dimension 1: Pitch
Musical pitch, the actual note value being played, is the first dimension or discriminator between sounds. Unless one is “tone deaf,” the ear and brain together sense differences in note value and processes pitch so that we can tell the different notes produced across the octaves of a piano, or those sung by a soprano or a bass in a choir.
Dimension 2: Tone
The second dimension of music is tone. Although they may be playing the same note value, a piano, violin, and trumpet have different tonal quality and thus sound different due to the physics of how the sound waveforms are produced by the instrument and transmitted to the listener. The complexity of the human voice, which rises from differences in vocal cord geometry, variations in chest and head resonance chambers, and application of various singing techniques, creates a wide array of tones. The tone is what allows a listener to instantly recognize their favorite musical performers even from only the first few notes of a song.
Dimension 3: Rythym
The third and final dimension of music is perhaps the most important. It is rhythm; sometimes referred to as tempo. This could be called the “secret sauce” of music. Rhythm allows multiple instruments or voices to come together in blended harmony, unison melody, or fanciful orchestrations and arrangements. Rhythm is the constant that must be completely understood and adhered to by all participants in producing, critiquing, or analyzing musical performances. Of the three dimensions of music, rhythm is the one with the most rules and expectations. A musical performer who violates the rules and expectations regarding the tempo of a song does so at their own risk and will struggle to get along with other musicians. Most importantly, they will fail to unite with the listener, who will sense that something is wrong even if they are not exactly sure what the problem is.
Dimensions and Dynamic Public Speaking
The three dimensions of music translate directly over to the world of public speaking. Dynamic speakers must understand the complexities of pitch and tone to connect with their audience. All the while they need to master the power of rhythm and deliver their speech with an appropriate and practiced tempo. A speaker who only uses one fixed pitch, tone, and, most importantly, tempo is instantly labelled as monotone or monotonous.
If the tempo is too fast all the time, the audience can’t catch their breath, feels beaten down, and has a hard time processing the concepts and ideas that they receive. Too slow for too long, the audience drifts away into boredom—or skips ahead and fills in the blanks with their own ideas and replaces the message the speaker is providing with their own message. Variation in speaking rhythm and tempo is key. The dynamic speaker must know when to give the audience time to breathe and know when to lead them quickly through a concept to reveal the treasures beyond, respecting their competency and ability to follow the message they convey.
With the incorporation of dynamic pitch, tone, and rhythm, including intentional, powerful pauses and rapid movement through certain passages, your speaking ability will grow and improve. Failure to correctly implement pitch, tone, and rhythm in public speaking will place you at risk for the worst mistake a speaker can make: an ineffectual, monotone delivery that bores the audience! When you apply the three dimensions of music to your public speaking, the result will inspire your listener with an engaging, natural delivery of your message.
The Three Dimensions of Music and Dynamic Public Speaking – today’s CommLink. Be sure to look for more Dynamic Speaking Principles from P H Tyson & Associates.