Beginning in the 1940s, the French ear nose and throat ENT specialist Dr. Alfred Tomatis began to investigate how the ear and voice are related.
As a physician, Tomatis began his research when he was examining ammunition factory workers to determine the extent of their hearing losses. Dr. Tomatis observed a marked pattern of consistent deficiencies in the high frequencies among the group. At the same time, he worked with opera singers who could no longer produce certain qualities of sound. When medical treatments failed to provide an effective solution for the singers deficient voices, Tomatis gave them hearing tests and observed deficiencies in their hearing similar to those of the factory workers. He further observed that the sounds missing from the singers hearing were the same sounds missing from their voices.
Tomatis's resultant hypothesis was that an individual's voice could only emit a sound that the individual's ear was capable of detecting.
Tomatis observed that the harmonics of the person’s voice changed immediately and unconsciously according to the manipulated acoustic response in the ear. The results also led to another observation and the formation of the first and second laws of Tomatis, shown below.
When Tomatis asked himself whether the observed effect could be the basis of a permanent new conditioning of the ear’s abilities, he conducted adaptive experiments and noticed desired permanent gains with the research subjects. The adaptive experiments led to the third law, which refers only to an anatomically and physiologically undamaged ear.
In 1957 the three laws were independently confirmed by the Academies of Medicine and Science of the Sorbonne University in Paris.
Law 1: The voice only contains the harmonics that the ear can hear.
Law 2: If you give the possibility to the ear to correctly hear the distorted frequencies of sound that are not well heard, these are immediately and unconsciously restored into the voice.
Law 3: The imposed audition sufficiently maintained over time results in permanently modifying the audition and phonation.
Tomatis was the first to develop a sophisticated process with patented technology as its base to develop one’s audition and phonation. He observed that such conditioned subjects changed from one way of passive listening to another way of conscious active listening. Tomatis distinguished between hearing and listening and the presence of a consciousness that differs between the two. He noticed that subjects who developed their listening also developed their language, learning, social interaction, communication, musical abilities, motor skills and creativity. Tomatis created the discipline of Audio-Psycho-Phonology, linking changes in one’s uses of the ear and its connection to the brain and body to changes in one’s voice and one’s interactions oneself, others, and environment. Tomatis expanded our awareness of the ear’s role throughout life, beginning with his pioneering research findings that listening begins with the fetus before birth.