Speak the speech trippingly. Or pitched low. Or with a mumble.
December 23, 2009 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Is there a resource that lists and explains the various effects one can use to accessorized speech, such as altering pitch, speeding up, slowing down, etc.?

As a director, I often have to help actors make vocal choices. My company regularly employs doubling -- that is using one actor to play multiple parts. So that the audience doesn't get confused, it's great if the actor makes each of his characters sound different.

Some actors are naturally gifted this way. Others need help.

Note: like most modern actors and directors, I take a psychological approach to character work. So I would never simply tell an actor something like "speak more quickly" or "raise your pitch." But once we've done the psychological work, it would be awesome to see an array of choices from which you could pick an appropriate set of effects.

The vocal instrument is flexible but not infinite. There are only so many things one can do while speaking: add gruffness/gravel, change the pitch, change the speed, change the degree of annunciation, try an accent, etc.

I would like a complete list. The perfect list would include effect, example (e.g. an actor who naturally talks with that effect, such as George C. Scott for gravel) and any hints/pitfalls to help create the effect without hurting your voice.

I have a bunch of Voice-For-The-Actor books, but none has the list I'm looking for. If such a list doesn't exist, maybe we could compile one together here.
posted by grumblebee to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
TC Helicon has some rather unusual products for altering voices.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:18 AM on December 23, 2009

Response by poster: Fun, ZenMasterThis, but I'm looking for effects that don't require devices other than the actor's own voice.
posted by grumblebee at 9:23 AM on December 23, 2009

I don't know, we just call it "doing a voice."

"For this character, you're going to need to do a voice, so think about how s/he sounds when you're learning your lines."

And then they'll come in and do maybe one or two or a million voices they've been playing with at home on their own time. We've sent someone home to do a Father Ted voice.

There are a few things at play here:

1) Accent.
2) Pitch.
3) Tone.
4) Timbre.
5) "Sounds like" - sounds like Father Ted, sounds like Huey Long, sounds like Fran Drescher.
6) Enunciation.

Maybe that's a start? I think that voice terms used in voice training or voice and movement classes are going to be where you want to look.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:00 AM on December 23, 2009

Response by poster: 7. Nasalness. (Paul Lynde)
8. Breathiness. (Marilyn Monroe)
9. Clippedness. (Can't think of an example -- someone who talks in a staccato rhythm)
posted by grumblebee at 11:34 AM on December 23, 2009

If you want a system to record your notes, conversation analysis used in transcription provides a notation guide.
posted by b33j at 2:16 PM on December 23, 2009

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