I have been analyzing hours of tape for a three-part History Channel special that I am shooting this weekend. Here are my rough notes on Obama's voice as he did his victory speech at the Iowa Caucus back in January. Barack's voice is naturally a deep, full, low baritone. According to research, deep low voices are perceived as more authoritative, believable, and trustworthy. Combine that with the ease with which he can speak loudly without any vocal strain, and you can hear his voice coming from the TV in another room and feel its authority and power. As much as she tries to control it and make it sound lower, Hillary's voice is not naturally low. When she attempts to lower it, she strains it and sounds screechy and angry.

Obama's paralanguage is chameleon-like. He changes his voice so dramatically to suit his location, his audience, and his topic, that it is difficult to know just what his real voice is or who he truly is. Listen to how Obama's cadence has that certain rhythm like a Baptist preacher. Listen to how he speaks on beat and extends certain words. For example, "They saaaaaaaid this day would never come." Preachers have a special rhythmic pattern where their voices fluctuate up and down like a song and pause on a beat rhythmically like a paradiddle on a drum. His speaking is so musical and pleasing to the ear, that we can be moved by the rhythm and not even hear the words. In fact the words may actually lack substance and he can get by without really saying anything new in the speech.

Obama’s vocal style is hypnotic, such that when his voice goes up and then he pauses, you almost want to cheer and say amen. You can’t help yourself. He actually copies the feel and the cadence of Martin Luther King’s “I had a dream” speech. Listen to how to his volume goes up and up and up…stirring the crowd, and then he pauses for effect. He waits until the audience cheers before he moves on to the next sentence. Pausing makes the word before the pause, and sometimes the entire sentence before the pause, sound more powerful and important.

And notice how he says particular words, like “you small towns and churches, Ameeerica, and affooordableeeee. As he draws these words out, he puts on a slightly more southern accent or he casually slurs the word. That makes him sound like one of the common folk. So even when we know that he came from an upper class family, when he says, “calloused hand by calloused hand,” he sounds like he was there with us working on the farm and plowing the field.

Check out the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNZaq-YKCnE