How to make my voice sound DEEEEEP?
January 19, 2013 5:20 PM   Subscribe

Metafilter, I am a tall and fit guy but my voice is high and nervous sounding. Are there any methods to deepen my sissy voice and make me a paler version of Morgan Freeman?

This is something I was struggling for a while now and were wondering if any of you fine gentlemen and ladies have any suggestions?

My voice is not girly but it is definitely not deep and calculated. It is especially bad during phone conversations as I become self consensuses and try to spit it out as fast as I can, resulting in mumbling, high pitched train wreck.

I am pretty intelligent and handsome, but when I open my mouth sometimes I feel that I lose respect and authority just due to my voice.

1. Any books, videos, workshops, voice school? ideas would be great. I am willing to drop some coins to make a meaningful and permanent transition.

2. Assuming there are various good techniques, how do I constantly think about them and apply them in day to day basis? I mean, talking is almost like breathing, in the sense that it is on "auto mode" and that we talk pretty much all the time during our waking hours. Are there any gadgets that, some kind of wrist band that, lets say, will vibrate every half an hour, thus reminding me to practice those techniques?

I am not looking into narrating drama movies about prisons, but would definitely want a manly man tone.

Thank you for reading and looking forward to hear your ideas,
posted by Sentus to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
You're probably using your "mask" voice (resonating in your nose) when you should be using your chest voice. A few singing lessons will broaden your range and give you more control.
posted by windykites at 5:34 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding singing. I sing along with music in the car and realized that the reason I couldn't hit the top half of the range of singing was because I was pitched up too high. A friend of mine told me my voice is lower than when I hung around with him about 10 years ago, so I attribute it to that. Not scientific by any means.
posted by cellphone at 5:36 PM on January 19, 2013

Best answer: If you are interested in singing classes, the breathing techniques you learn there would probably help. You would also explore the natural range of your voice and figure out what is "normal" for you. You may be a tenor, but you can still speak with poise. Trying to force your voice to go below its normal range will just sound odd and not convey authority and confidence.

Maybe practice reciting speeches or poems, or just talking to yourself, around the house. Take deep breaths as you talk and pause frequently to get your body used to talking in a calm, focused way.

Toastmasters might be worth a try. Building confidence would almost certainly help, as would addressing your anxiety.

If you feel comfortable bringing this up with a friend you often hang out with as part of a group, you could ask them to give you a signal of when you are speaking in a rushed way, and this could be your cue to take a deep breath and slow down.

I changed the way I talked at one point. Or at least I taught myself a new mode of talking which I sometimes use and sometimes forget. I was very nervous about speaking in class, and tended to be very quiet, high and rushed. I started to speak more slowly, carefully and firmly, as if I was taking the conversation seriously and had just as much right to be part of it as anyone else. It was a real confidence builder for me.
posted by bunderful at 5:36 PM on January 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

They have courses available for actors to help develop their voices. I took one in college, and the main points were to relax the body, and use your whole diaphragm when projecting your voice.

There should be local classes available, for that and the singing lessons windykites suggests.
posted by annsunny at 5:36 PM on January 19, 2013

Also, be careful about just trying to force your voice into a lower register; only go as far as you naturally can or you could damage your vocal cords. Learn to breathe with your diaphragm rather than your upper body to further relax your tense throat muscles and consider getting regular, gentle massage on your throat. If you don't want to pay for singing lessons, I have a friend who downloaded "how to sing like a star" audio lessons that taught the basics of breathing etc and provided vocal excercises.
posted by windykites at 5:40 PM on January 19, 2013

Best answer: Sing scales. Work down one note per round. Practice singing well towards the lower range of your voice.

Also, join toastmasters or some other venue where you can learn to be more calm when speaking. Be conscious of pausing and speaking more slowly. Practice giving a speech, record yourself, and keep practicing until you like your pace. Remember what it feels like to talk at that pace - it may feel super slow, but sound normal. You can use that feeling to calibrate how you speak, and essentially give yourself permission to speak slower than you normally would.
posted by zippy at 5:44 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you live in the Seattle area, memail me. I purposefully dropped my voice by half an octave when I was a teenager, and I help people learn to alter their speaking voices for a variety of reasons on a sort-of professional basis. Hell, even if you don't live in Seattle, memail me if you want to try working on it over Skype or something.
posted by KathrynT at 9:25 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would suggest seeing a Speech and Language Therapist/Pathologist for some voice therapy, or a voice coach. I would say speech therapists who specialise in voice tend to approach changing voice from the more scientific and anatomical side, and voice coaches tend to work more through visualisation and metaphor but either approach would work for you as long as your voice is basically healthy.

I love singing and I use singing techniques when I do voice therapy, but learning to sing will not necessarily improve your speaking voice. In fact, I've worked with professional singers who have terrible speaking voice technique. I do think it's easier to learn things like abdominal breathing in singing before learning them in speaking, but a singing teacher probably won't be able to help you make that transition. Unless you're a singer anyway, I wouldn't bother with singing lessons.

In terms of your voice, if you have a high pitched voice, you probably won't be able to make your voice fundamentally deeper because that is determined by anatomy. However, there is a lot of habit about how we use our voices and you will probably be able to obtain a more resonant tone with more 'gravitas' by changing the way you produce and use your voice. I would advise doing this under some kind of professional supervision though because you can damage your voice by forcing it deeper on a regular basis.

Just checking, did your voice noticeably break during puberty? There is a rare condition called puberphonia where the male voice does not descend into the adult register even though anatomically they have developed correctly. If you google around and feel this applies to you than a speech therapist is the way to go. They will probably make you see an ENT doctor first.
posted by kadia_a at 2:47 AM on January 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You also asked about how to remember how to use your new voice - that's always the biggest battle when you change anything about the way to breathe/speak/move/sleep/eat etc.

As a speech therapist, when someone is trying to change their voice or their speech, I talk about a hierarchy of difficult situations and we do them in order, focusing on getting it right in one situation before starting to move towards the next. These situations might be makign the new voice in:
* An ah sound in the clinic with me giving feedback
* Ah sound giving your own feedback
* Simple words
* Longer words
* Short phrases
* Reading out loud sentences
* Reciting memorised text (like nursery rhymes or poetry, counting, days of the week)
* Reading out loud paragraphs
* Reading out loud paragraphs you've never seen before
* Reading out loud whole articles
* Questions and answers with the therapist - short phrases that you have to think of as you go along, easy sums
* Longer answers
* Short situations in everyday life - 5 mins a day
* Building up how often you use it
* Trying to use it most of the time
* Getting it consistent even in stressful situations

Sounds like a lot, but the early stages can go quickly for some people. The later stages you would work on yourself, not necessarily with a therapist. Some people wouldn't go through all stages, some would need to.
posted by kadia_a at 2:55 AM on January 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

Record your voice and listen to it.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:23 AM on January 20, 2013

Get one-on-one singing and/or voice tuition. Your voice is fragile, don't fuck with it by taking group lessons or trying to do anything without supervision.
posted by tel3path at 4:48 AM on January 20, 2013

My voice got deeper from playing the digeridoo, it's a good exercise for the diaphragm.
posted by Tom-B at 12:54 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're never going to have vocal cords other than the ones you have, so, the voice you've got is the one you're stuck with.

What you really need is to learn to speak with confidence.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:53 PM on January 21, 2013

You're never going to have vocal cords other than the ones you have, so, the voice you've got is the one you're stuck with.

This is emphatically untrue. Just ask anyone who does voice acting -- there are a lot of things you can't change, but there are a LOT of things you can change. Pitch and timbre are two of them.
posted by KathrynT at 3:16 PM on January 21, 2013

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