When I started at Goldsmiths last October I gave a talk to my new department about my research with laughing babies. Straight afterwards Prof. Lauren Stewart came up to me and suggested we collaborate on something. Lauren is a professor of the psychology of music and was interested in how babies respond to music. Music is laden with emotion and so it would be fascinating to learn more about its effect on young babies. So I readily agreed but that was as far as we got, we couldn’t find a suitable project.
We are a little bit early for Halloween but I thought I would share these with you. The spooky consequences of slowing down or shifting the pitch of babies laughter and tears until they sound a bit like adults. The results are unsettling to say the least.
First off a friend found a pitch adjusted version of a baby crying. You can listen to it here but be warned it is very weird and affecting. Almost as if the anguish of infancy has been enlarged to become the existential lament of a full grown adult. (You have been warned!)
Naturally, this had me wondering what slowed down baby laughter would sound like. The same friend obliged by making this sound file of a slowly laughing baby. Worringly, it sounds a bit like sobbing too. Which is interesting in itself since laughter and tears are the first communicative sounds that babies can make. However, when slowed down a little less baby laughter sounds surprisingly normal.
I’ve made a soundfile of my seven-month-old, Sam, laughing. He had just sneezed, and I said “Atishooo!” back to him. He thought this was hilarious, particularly as I bounced him up and down as I said it.
I thought you might like to hear it for your project – it’s very cute.