Trends in presidential pitch II

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In Trends in presidential pitch (5/19/2017), I observed that the median fundamental frequency (= "pitch") of President Trump's weekly addresses has increased  steadily since January, by about 30%.  As a point of comparison, I did the same calculation for President Obama's first few months of  weekly addresses, from 1/24/2009 to 5/23/2009, in comparison to Trump's weekly addresses from 1/28/2017 to 5/19/2017:

[I've omitted Trump's three addresses from 3/3/2017, 3/25/2017, and 3/31/2017, because of the differences in recording context and production style explained in the earlier post. Because Obama seems not to have recorded any weekly addresses in February of 2009, the time span of the 13 plotted weekly addresses from the two presidencies is very nearly the same. ]

The different basic trends are clear: in these weekly addresses, Barack Obama's median f0 remains steady at around 110 Hz, whereas Donald Trump's median f0 rises gradually from around 140 Hz to around 180 Hz.

Even the deviations from these patterns seem to have a plausible explanation. For example, why is there a noticeably higher median f0 in Obama's weekly address #6 in the graph above? Simple — the 4/4/2009 address was recorded aboard Air Force One in flight, with significant levels of background noise, and the normal Lombard Reflex would be expected to cause him to raise his voice. The median f0 in the 4/4/2009 address was 122 Hz, compared with 110 Hz in the 3/28/2009 address, and 111 Hz in the 4/11/2009 address. (So I probably should leave 4/4/2009 out, as I left out Trump's 3/3/2017 address, which was recorded on an aircraft carrier.)

And why is there a below-trend median f0 for Trump's weekly address #7 in the graph above? That address is dated 4/7/2017, apparently recorded at Mar-a-Lago. This was the day after the Tomahawk missile strike against Syria, the day of Neil Gorsuch's Senate confirmation, and the second day of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit — probably the high point of the president's term so far.

For the record, here are the 13 Obama weekly addresses that I used:

1. 20090124
2. 20090307
3. 20090314
4. 20090321
5. 20090328
6. 20090404
7. 20090411
8. 20090418
9. 20090425
10. 20090502
11. 20090509
12. 20090516
13. 20090523

The comparable list of links for Trump's addresses can be found in the earlier post.




  1. Robert Ayers said,

    May 21, 2017 @ 2:05 pm

    Labels at top left of graph are reversed.

    [(myl) Oops – should be fixed now.]

  2. D.O. said,

    May 21, 2017 @ 3:50 pm

    With trend like this, by the end of the summer we might expect our first transgender president.

    [(myl) This seems to be a matter of increasing vocal effort rather than any sort of change in gender projection.]

  3. GeorgeW said,

    May 21, 2017 @ 4:44 pm

    Could stress be a factor?

  4. fleg9bo said,

    May 21, 2017 @ 11:39 pm

    Let's hope this isn't the beginning of a trend in presidential pitch:

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