Creating varying voices.

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KevinS
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Post by KevinS » April 17th, 2019, 10:36 am

God forgive me if this is seen as cheating, but I have about three 'voices' that sound reasonably different, unless I do accents, which is probably not a good idea for me. (I still do a pretty good Long Island accent, though, as I spent years there.) Three just doesn't seem enough, especially as it's 'me,' 'gruff me,' and 'sexy me.' (Okay, that last isn't at all true. I've never been sexy in my whole life. Maybe it should be called my "poor imitation of a soft-spoken wo/man me.")

Before I waste a lot of time on technological solutions to my dearth of voices, I would ask if changing pitch (and tempo?) create a reasonably new voice? Are there better tricks? Should I just not worry about it?
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Post by philchenevert » April 17th, 2019, 10:49 am

My advice is not to worry about it. TELL THE STORY and your inner performer will shine with each voice. Your audience will follow and love it. Your brain will switch with little effort and it will sound great. When reading a story to children do you plan out the voices or do they just come? Of course since I don't do voices myself, just go with the flow, I am prejudiced but no one has ever complained. Well actually they did when I started and planned out the 'voices', highlightin the text for each character, painstakingly practicing accents etc. etc. etc. They said it stunk and sounded artificial so I went back to just telling the story. Hell, I performed Pollyanna and not only had a ton of fun myself but others said they didn't even notice that a 75 year old guy from Louisiana was talking for an 11 year old girl. Not to mention the aunts! My 2 cents. Of course if you enjoy voices then absolutely do them. (how's that for covering my tracks?) Image
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KevinS
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Post by KevinS » April 17th, 2019, 11:15 am

Sound advice, I'm sure.

I'd sure like to be able do young women's voices, though, without sounding ridiculous.

I acted a bit when I was young, but the only role I had that used a 'new' voice was the Gryphon in Alice in Wonderland.
E agora, José?

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Post by lymiewithpurpose » April 17th, 2019, 11:31 am

Ok, I am one of the readers who do use different voices. After I finish one of my solos, I am trying to move away from it though. I find it can be too hard to remember the voices, straining on my voice, and sound overall a bit strange. The best success I have heard are slight variations. So maybe raise your voice for a more feminine character, lower it for masculine. Personally, I would not change tempo too much. I feel that can take away from the flow of the reading a bit. If you are interested in voices, maybe check out some of our Dramatic Readings, those are super fun! Hope this helps!
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Cori
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Post by Cori » April 17th, 2019, 11:38 am

Sometimes I do celebrity imitations ... I'm so very bad at them that they sound quite original, and it makes it a little easier to be consistent over time. :lol:

I've used pitch shift to tweak my own voice in doing rereads/pick-ups, but never for a full character. I'm not sure (at least for my voice) that it'd sound very nice. Worth some experiments at your end, but I'd suggest you get a second opinion on the outputs before using it in a solo project. In a collab, I wouldn't do that at all, either. Listeners are more tolerant of the varying voices, and I think it might be distracting.

In terms of better tricks -- have you been through the catalogue (and any commercial recordings you have) to see how other people are handling this? I think there's a lot of mileage in quite subtle shifts (pitch, tempo, volume as long as it's not shouting/whispering at the poor listener, enunciation, accent/lilt, breathing patterns.) It doesn't have to be a full performance, as Phil says, the story itself will carry listeners along pretty well so they're doing a lot of this work in their heads without realising. I've also made mistakes with bigger shifts where it's actually been a strain on my voice to keep it up ... so worth doing as little as possible for characters who talk a lot. :mrgreen:
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Post by Cori » April 17th, 2019, 11:41 am

Ah, we have some community podcasts that might help too! Full list here: https://wiki.librivox.org/index.php?title=Librivox_Community_Podcast ... I'd suggest trying 96 & 102 for starters. (Note to self, should really put little summaries in for all those blank ones sometime. Rainy day job.)
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KevinS
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Post by KevinS » April 17th, 2019, 11:43 am

ALL good advice.

Back to schooling for me.
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KevinS
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Post by KevinS » April 17th, 2019, 11:47 am

I'm going to listen to as much Karl Schmidt as I can. He did wonderful work for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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Post by iBeScotty » April 17th, 2019, 12:14 pm

Great question and great responses! Bottom line I think is to have fun and do what pleases you. Listeners will always have preferences regardless, and PL will verify you are understandable. :wink:

You could try different things here and there and see what happens. It can be fun trying a voice or accent and there are many resources to help with this. For dialects, I’ve used https://www.dialectsarchive.com

For me, I first had a lot of fun with voices because that is how I would read to my kids. Haven’t actually used them here much though and oddly, on a project I wasn’t trying at all, the proof listener said they liked the character voices :lol:
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Post by TriciaG » April 17th, 2019, 1:08 pm

I was going to suggest community podcasts, but Cori beat me to it. :wink:

One thing I beg: for men, please, PLEASE do not use falsetto for a female voice. It can rarely be done well, and is often done quite poorly. Raising your voice a little for a female is OK, but not that high, almost caricature-ish voice for a serious female character. *shudder*
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KevinS
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Post by KevinS » April 17th, 2019, 2:55 pm

No Betty Boop. Check!
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Post by annise » April 17th, 2019, 4:18 pm

A problem I find with dialects is something I can only explain with an example. It's clever to be able to sound like a Scotsman talking to a group of his mates while watching a football match but it would probably only be understood by a fellow Scotsman. People adjust their accents to suit their audience while they are speaking and I want the world to be able to understand me when I read books, not just my neighbours :D
And apologies to any offended Scotsmen, I didn't think picking an Australian example would work here, and I did stay in an English boarding house with a group of Scotsmen and one day there was a football match.

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Post by tovarisch » April 17th, 2019, 5:29 pm

I heard/read this advice some time ago... If you are going to do voices for a narration, it would help to record your best of each character to which you might need to return, and listen to your own recording and try to match it, before each session when any of the voices will be needed. This should help prevent any drift during the weeks/months/years of narrating a large piece with several characters.

I think that advice is good, and I myself did (and do) voices, but am too lazy to actually follow that advice on LV, so I make my best effort to remember what I sounded like the last time that character spoke.

AFA accents go, I did some in dramatic readings, and hope they turned out OK. Perhaps it's the producers' politeness or something else, but I've not heard a single complaint. However, I once failed an audition (not here) for an English-speaking role that was supposed to have a German accent. I was told they heard too much Russian in my reading (I suppose it's fair - I am Russian). The same group accepted my variant of an English-speaking Norwegian in some other production, or my French accent in another play, but probably the roles were unimportant enough... :wink:
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  • reality prompts me to scale down my reading, sorry to say
    to PLers: do correct my pronunciation please

KevinS
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Post by KevinS » April 17th, 2019, 6:49 pm

I sound exactly like Omar Sharif when I do a Russian accent. (Wink.)
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tovarisch
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Post by tovarisch » April 18th, 2019, 5:00 am

Not surprising, really. An Arabic accent and a Russian accent sound to me quite similar. :)
tovarisch
  • reality prompts me to scale down my reading, sorry to say
    to PLers: do correct my pronunciation please

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