Saturday, December 14, 2013

Electronic Voice Phenomena: Understanding Spirit Communication

Raz called me that night. It was like any other night. I was on my Mac, browsing Facebook just like everyone else does.

But he did call me. And I answered it.

"Hello?" he said on the other side of the line.

"Hey bro wassup?" I replied.

"Ok, you got to listen to this OK, you just hold on..." he said to me.

I was eagerly waiting for him to get back to me, as I heard some muffle and shuffle sounds in the background. And here the sound of him coming nearer.

(Some static noises)

"OK here it goes!" he sounded excited.

(Static noises)

Then I could hear a very familiar voice, undoubtedly that belongs to my partner Raz.

"The thing is, when we speak malay - LEAVE ME ALONE!" 

My mind was trying to process what the heck that I just heard on the phone. He was playing back the recording that we had while we were doing the EVP Session at Pasir Ris.

My heart was pounding. The tingling of fear was running through my body, from head to toe and at the same time, my hair stands on my neck and arms, all the while thinking to myself, 'What the heck was that?!'

What you have just read above was the actual event that took place after SGHC has conducted our Pasir Ris Investigations.

It is considered quite the norm that every paranormal investigator will bound to come across an EVP during the reviewing stage of every footage or sound recordings gathered after every investigation - a disembodied voice coming from an undetectable source, relaying a few phrases or syllables which is discernible to our normal human understanding and surprisingly though, of the common language we use, namely the English language. Normally, EVPs are faint sounds which audibility falls below the lowest decibel humanly possible for us to listen to it, and thus audio editing softwares are frequently used to enhanced the sounds, to filter the background noises or increase the volume.

But what are EVPs? Some consider it could be voices from the dead. Some even claim that the spirits are trying to commune with the ones on this side of the world. Sound beyond the physical realm? Or simply a stray radio signal that was caught during the recording process somehow.

Electro Voice Phenomenon, or in its abbreviated form, EVP, is 'the recording of voices for which there is no natural or scientific explanation' (pg. 149, Rosemary Ellen Gully).

These voices, fortunately (just imagine the horror of listening to a disembodied voice 'live'!), are not audible during the recording itself, albeit those rare cases where an investigator hears a voice clearly and physically.


EVP was the first high-technology attempt to communicate with the dead and other discarnate beings. Perhaps the earliest documented EVP dates back to 1901 - although in that case, the disembodied voices was heard during the recording as well as on the playback. An American ethnologist, Waldemar Borogas, went to Spain to record a spirit conjuration ritual performed by a Tchouktchi shaman.The ritual was conducted in a darkened room with only Borogas and the shaman present. As the shaman drummed to enter into trance, Borogas heard disembodied voices speaking in Russion and English emanate from various points in the room. They were captured by his recordings.

Thomas Elva Edison believed that an electronic device could be built for spirit communication. Edison announced in the October 1920 issue of Scientific American that he was working on such a device but it was not completed prior to his death in 1931.

There were many others that attempted to invent and communicate and record spirit communication or scientifically coined Instrumental Trasncommunication but the prominent figure in the scientific pursuit of EVP was none other than Sarah Estep.

In 1982, Sarah Estep founded the American Association - Electronic Voice Pehnomena (AA - EVP) in the United States. In 2000, she turned leadership over to Tom and Lisa Butler, a communications engineer and psychologist, respectively, of Reno, Nevada. The Butlers had been experimenting in and researching EVP for about 15 years prior to that.

EVP came into publicity and became a generic term to the public thanks to the media exposure and popularity of TV Shows or films such as White Noise and Ghost Hunters, etc. The media show only the tip of the EVP iceberg though. Most researchers felt that films such as White Noise, with its fictional demonic emphasis, have done the filed more of a disservice than a service in educating the public.

Characteristics of EVP

Most EVP are short - two to four words spoken in bursts of up to two seconds, sometimes longer. Longer messages have been recorded before, but the average experimenter gets short messages. Usually, short messages are clearer than the longer ones, but this is just a generalisation, nothing more. Communications are delivered in the language of the experimenter, regardless of the language spoken of the language originally spoken by the communicators. 

Voices usually sound flat or monotonous, or mechanical or have an unusual cadence; male or female gender maybe distinguished. Sometimes, voices will not be of a spoken language, but sounds of emotions, grunts displaying someone that is angry or cries and sobs implying that someone is sad. (This happened to us on the 2nd Part of the Teban Railway Tunnel Episode).

Animal sounds and music have been recorded as well by other experimenters but not SGHC so far.
There are three classifications of EVP, which was established by Sarah Estsep and is recognised throughout the field.

  • Class A voices are clearly heard and understood by majority of people
  • Class B voices are clear, but there may be different interpretations of the word
  • Class C voices are so faint they usually require headphones and amplification and are much harder to decipher. Majority of the EVP results falls in a Class C EVP category

Conducting an EVP Session

Early EVP researchers had to rely on reel - to - reel tape or cassette records, but most now prefer digital recorders, due to their simplicity of use and storage as well as deletion and recording and usually yield better clarity and results from the EVP Sessions.

Though not scientifically proven otherwise ( as is the case in any paranormal investigation ), there are theories that the experimenter's own consciousness seems to influence the results. An open-minded, positive attitude is desirable. Doubt seems to dampen results.

Some paranormal investigators leave recorders running for longs periods of time, but researchers say that is not necessary. (But SGHC did manage to capture the disembodied sound of a woman crying in the Teban Railway Tunnel Episode which was captured on our static EVP recorder that was left to record for 6 hours!) Most EVPs are captured quickly (EVP Burst Sessions) in five or ten minutes, according to the AA-EVP.

There are two types of EVP experimentation that are carried out: Field and Controlled.

To sum it up, Field EVPs are done when investigators are out in haunted locations, such as forests and dilapidated houses, etc. At least two recorders are used, so if the same voice appears on the two recorders, EVP should be ruled out.

Controlled EVP is favoured by serious EVP researchers. This is done at the same location - such as home - on a regular basis, preferably at the same time, posing questions and waiting for responses. 

Whether EVP is considered to be paranormal in nature or circumstantial, has been the subject of debate. SGHC investigators carried out EVP sessions during their investigations and it proves time and again to be a useful methodology to be applied in the field. 

But does this proof that there are ghosts and spirits eagerly waiting to communicate with us?

Why don't you find out yourself then?

Information was sourced from The Encyclopaedia of Ghosts and Spirits. Get it here.

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