Direct Voice Phenomena

The term “Direct Voice” in séances was applied to voices that were heard, sometimes coming from various places, in the room but did not seem to come from the medium’s vocal cords.

A simple cardboard megaphone for spirits to speak through

A simple cardboard megaphone for spirits to speak through

In The Spirit of Dr. Bindelof, I wrote of how the boys tried to hear their mentor’s voice.  “Dr. Bindelof” drew a diagram of a “speaking trumpet [this was done in direct writing, where the pencil would pick itself up and write messages],” which they then constructed from rubber tubing, a funnel, and other odds and ends. The sitters were disappointed that they got “only” blowing sounds from this primitive device but it was surprising that they got sounds at all.

At one of their last séances the boys made a simple megaphone out of heavy paper or cardboard and asked for “Dr. Bindelof” to speak through it, since they had read of voices being heard at séances.

The megaphone floated around, touching several sitters.  The minutes of the session noted: “Short draughts of air, sometimes sharply interrupted, thus making a sound similar to the explosive ‘p,’ were clearly discernible. It is worth noting the fact that during the entire extent of this experiment the megaphone underwent much handling by the doctor. The mouth of the megaphone was found to be moist and somewhat creased.”

Maria Malibran (1808-1836), one of the most famous opera singers of the 19th century, whose voice was thought to be heard singing at Indridason's séances

Maria Malibran (1808-1836), one of the most famous opera singers of the 19th century, whose voice was thought to be heard singing at Indridason’s séances

They continued later that evening with a larger megaphone. Larry felt the end of it being placed against his ear and heard clearly pronounced whispers of “Larry, Leonard, do you hear me?” Larry asked, “Will you improve your talking with practice?” and was answered, “Maybe.” A lot of handling and manipulation of the megaphone accompanied all this. A little later there was further mentioning of sitters names: “Larry; Leonard; Howard; Gilbert; Murray.”

At about a quarter to midnight, Ellie, Gil’s aunt who had not been present at the séance, arrived and they sat down again in order that Ellie might hear “the doctor” speak. The megaphone floated up and was placed at Ellie’s ear. She heard: “Hello Ellie. How are you? Sorry you couldn’t be here.”


There were much more complex and dramatic direct voices in Indridi Indridason’s  séances.  This young Icelander displayed extraordinary mediumistic abilities.  Among them were many voices of different types—male, female, clear, rough, shouted, whispered, etc.–that were heard around him and at his séances.  They answered questions from sitters and seemed to provide details of their lives.  A few spoke in languages foreign to Indridi and some sang.  

 One very beautiful and seemingly well-trained voice was thought to be that of a woman who the investigators believed was Maria Malibran, a famous opera singer of that era who had died young.  This voice was heard many times and was even heard singing a duet, in French, with a male voice.

Even the pseudoskeptics at Wikipedia have to admit that anomalous voices were heard around Indridason, though they try hard to cast doubt on the reports: 

Spiritualists report that . . .  there were occasions when several voices were heard around Indriði while he was visiting his fiancée on a farm, including one outdoors in broad daylight when multiple different voices spoke to him and each other, in immediate succession and even simultaneously. Proponents say that an observer who suspected him of ventriloquism reported that he once heard a male and female voice singing simultaneously in a skillful and trained manner, a supposedly impossible feat for Indriði, who was described as an untrained singer who used to sing in the cathedral choir. Believers cited an anecdotal story that a friend tried to trap Indriði by singing a duet with one of the voices and setting the pitch uncomfortably high, but concluded it was “very improbable that there was in the whole town a singer who could” have sung as well as the voice did.

-From Wikipedia entry on Indridi Indridason

Notice how the writers of the piece hint at possible ventriloquism and preface their comments with “proponents say” or “believers cited” in order to cast doubt. They don’t go into the precautions against fraud or the detailed positive reports given by impartial investigators.

Other topics to explore “inside the séance room”
ApparitionsDirect VoiceEctoplasmLevitationLights, Odors, etc.Materialization
Paranormal soundsTable tilting