The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense

Early '80s graphic design. Yeah!
Has anyone checked this book out? I found it one day while distractedly looking through my dad's book collection, a large part of which consists of self-help-type books like these. 

At first glance, it looked pretty lame—one of the books central concepts is something called the "Verbal Violence Octagon: Propositions of Power," which has its own neat diagram in the book with the following cryptic instructions:
  1. Identify the Satir Mode being used
  2. Identify the presupposition(s) of the sequence.
  3. Respond in Computer Mode, with a neutral request for information about the presupposition or a remark about the presupposition.
  4. Maintain Computer Mode.
So, it sounds really weird and probably useless. But, I did find something interesting:
There's a section towards the end about "correcting" annoying habits in your speech—the subheading is called "Proper Use of the Voice." The author writes: 
"First, get it straight in your own mind that your goal is to sound like your own self, but with a pleasant voice quality."
 (She adds, comically, that the goal isn't to sound like a movie star or famous person: "It would only make people consider you some kind of nut who thought Lauren Bacall-Paul Newman imitations were appropriate for ordinary conversation.")

Anyway, she goes on to describe a method of imitating a voice recording of a friend whose voice you admire and would want to emulate. She suggests getting a couple blank tapes (ha! tapes) and recording said friend talking about ordinary topics, and then doing the following:
...pick any sentence (or shorter sequence) on the tape that you want to work with, listen to it several times, and then try to say the sequence ALONG WITH THE TAPE. Do that over and over again, until you can do it easily; then choose a new sequence and go on to work with it.
She also adds that you should never write down the sequence and read it along, since reading distracts from learning to produce speech naturally in the way you want to. She also describes the wrong way of doing this:
Do not listen to a sentence on your friend's tape, stop the tape, repeat the sentence (trying to sound like the tape), and then do that over and over again.
This seems obvious enough, but the kicker is her explanation of the mechanism by which this type of training works:
Why does this work? Because as you try to speak along with the tape, you will unconsciously hear tiny differences between your own speech and the speech you're using as a model...Unconsciously, if you trust yourself and let the mechanisms of the body take over the job, you can do this.
My thought is to take this approach and use it to practice emulating the delivery and phrasing of musicians I've transcribed; I might take a 2 bar phrase and then cut and paste it into a program like Audacity, then loop it so I can listen to it on repeat and play along with it until I've got it. I used to practice playing along with entire solos, but I think it makes even more sense to isolate phrases (randomly!) and practice making my delivery more natural. I haven't taken as great advantage of modern technology to accelerate my practicing as I know I can, so here's one way I can make 2012 work for me. Does anyone already do this?

***Oh, and one last thought from Prof. Elgin:
(And if you go on fiendishly at this, you can keep it up until they [your voice and the recording] are a perfect match. At which point you have trained yourself to sound like an imitation of your friend. Remember, this is not your goal.)
 Wise words!


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