Ted Cruz, speech hero

The Good Student

Glenn Beck wrote in The Blaze that Ted Cruz remembers word for word everything he hears. He has an unbeatable “audiographic memory.”

I hear Ted Cruz speaking and a bearded, outraged Charlton Heston holding two tablets of stone appears above my head, his long tunic floating in the wind.

Mr. Cruz’s rhetoric [“the art or skill of speaking or writing formally and effectively especially as a way to persuade or influence people,” as stated in one dictionary] is old-school. He uses classical figures of speech to enhance the meaning of his perfectly basted paragraphs. Anaphora, as when he started up to eight sentences with the word “tonight” – half of them followed by “is a victory,” another anaphora – within the first four minutes of his Iowa victory speech [LISTEN]. Climax and Hypophora, as when he closed the seventh Republican debate with this dramatic paragraph,

“The central question in this race is trust. Who do you know  [pause] will kill the terrorists [pause] defend the constitution [pause] and repeal Obamacare? Who do you know [pause] will stop amnesty and secure the borders? [pause] Who do you know [pause] will defend life [pause] marriage and religious liberty?” [LISTEN]

Sententia, as when he promised that all the sufferings Americans are bearing today will fade away when he’s the President, with this evangelical quote:

“And while Americans will continue to suffer [pause] under a [hesitation] President who has set an agenda that is causing millions [pause] to hurt across this country, [pause] I want to remind you of the promise of scripture: [pause][emphasis] Weeping [pause] may endure for the night, [pause] but [emphasis with rough voice] joy [pause] cometh in the morning.'” [LISTEN]

Old-high-school-drama-club Prosody

And his prosody, oh, his prosody [“the rhythmic and intonational aspect of speech,” as stated in one dictionary. More about prosody here].

He emphasizes the phrases he considers need to be heard (emphasis mine) with higher intensity – basically: he yells. He shows his muscle both to opponents (I will fight) and supporters (I will lead).

His pausing is also very effective – for a teacher, or a pastor, as Matt Kwong noted in CBC News. He pauses after the important word, expressing something like, “Listen to what I just said, isn’t it great?” And he so much loves what he says. How delighted he is by his own speech.

His speeches are built on dramatic effects and nuances. Shout here, lower your voice there, now pause. Make a dramatic pause. Dramatic. Pause. And now you can start a very long sentence that sounds like the revelation of the seven plagues of Egypt and states the solution to all the problems the world is facing after the Obama presidency with the help of “courageous conservatives across this great nation,” short pause. And then, say something else. And a longer pause. Before whatever seems good. Insert a very long pause. For you [LISTEN]. And try not to pause when everybody expects you to pause. What a hat-trick, huh (eye-blink)?

The Speech Planner

Mr. Cruz plans everything, even the tone of his voice. He must have read somewhere (possibly here, or here, or maybe here… or elsewhere) that voters prefer candidates with deep voices. Unfortunately, his is not deep. His average tone is around 152 – 167 Hz, around D#3 – E#3 – We consider deep voices around A2 (three musical tones lower).

So, he tries. He makes every effort to keep his voice as low as he can. At the opening of the Iowa debate, when Ted Cruz ‘heartfeltly’ praised the Iowans, he managed to get to 128 Hz – C#3.  Still far from a deep voice. And this intentional effort to lower his voice makes it sound piercing, buzzing, monotonous.

As a result, the Texas Senator doesn’t sound passionate. Although he tries to sound like he’s transfigured by his strong conservative feelings, the feelings that distort his voice into a rough groan [LISTEN], what we hear are canned speech effects intended not to make the audience understand his ideas more clearly, but to make them crack up and ‘ted!-ted!’ him.

I see him in shirtsleeves, his tie loosened, listening intently to his speechwriter and marking effective sound-bites and roar-firing quotes on his sheet – stack of sheets. In his mind, he’ll speak backlit by a Texan rising sun, as the metaphor of the new day for America to come, his voice sounding over images of a blond child in front of her bowl of cereal while her stay-at-home mommy cheerfully does the dishes, an overalled grandpa, his spading fork upside down and tears in his old eyes, a young construction folk driving his truck, his worn red baseball hat covering his eyes, as he turns up the radio volume, “Yeah, man!”

The lack of passion in Senator Cruz’s speeches comes from the fact that he doesn’t change the tone much. Hence, his reputation of buzzing, tone-deaf, monotone. The greatest frequency span (the difference between the highest and lowest tones) we hear is 224 Hz – only one octave. This short difference between how high and how low a person’s voice goes, by the way, is typically found in non-dynamic but rigid personalities.

The type of personalities that individuals who are abrasive, authoritarian and who like to impose their views often show. Like, er, Ted Cruz?



2 thoughts on “Ted Cruz, speech hero

  1. Me ha gustado tu publicación y la otra también buen trabajo. uN abrazo muy fuerte. Besos.

    Enviado desde mi iPad

    > El 6 feb 2016, a las 10:39 AM, Power At Speech escribió: > > >


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