Today we are going to discuss ways to record a read that pops in a good way. Your job as a voice artist is to avoid boring listeners in a 30 seconds commercial, if you can’t do that, imagine how boring long reads like audiobooks would be! To engage listeners, a voice artist must add variety to their words. Learning how to add vocal variety to scripts, even boring ones, is an art that must be mastered in order to get voice over work. Another reason to be good at adding variety is because producers often ask for multiple takes of the script, meaning they want you to narrate multiple versions of the same voice over script.
How to add variety to your read:
To understand pitch, think of music. It has high and low notes as do people’s voices. Everyone’s voice has a natural pitch. Women’s tend to be higher than men’s, and everybody has a pitch range. When that range is very small, the effect is monotonous.
Dramatic pauses, also called beats or frames, add variety to your read. For example, a producer may say, “Give me a beat before that word.” Dramatic pauses also help emphasize the following word. In other words, instead of hitting a word to emphasize it, insert a pause (space) before it. Whether you use a dramatic pause to add variety or to emphasize the following word, be sure that the pause is not too long, or it will sound too dramatic.
Tone refers to the emotional content carried by our voices. It is not the words themselves, but ‘how’ we say them. To speak expressively, is to fill or energize our words appropriately. For example: a person who puts very little energy into their speech, no matter what they are saying, is often described as being ‘flat’. By contrast someone who fills their speech to overflowing with energy is described as being ‘exuberant’ or ‘enthusiastic’. If you think of a word as a basket carrying its meaning or intent along, you’ll get the idea. Some people put very little in their word baskets. Others stuff them so full they almost burst.
Vary your tempo
In natural conversation, we continually vary our tempo to create variety; even within a single sentence. Doing the same when script reading will make your delivery sound more natural while adding variety.
How loudly or quietly you speak is called volume. Some people are habitually loud and others quiet, regardless of their speech content. The tips and exercises below will help you consciously play with your volume control. The skill involved with getting louder (or softer) is to maintain tone and pitch while altering the sound level. Many people lose them both, particularly when they get louder. Good breath control is fundamental to raising the volume while maintaining tone and pitch. Begin with the first exercise before moving on to the others.
Practice Breathing Using your Diaphragm:
Stand in front of a mirror. Make sure your feet are a comfortable shoulder width apart. Pull yourself up straight and let your head sit square on your neck. Place one hand on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose. You should feel your stomach rising and then breathe out. This time your stomach falls. Watch your shoulders. If they rise and fall noticeably you are most likely breathing off the top of your lungs! Try until you can feel a definite rise and fall of your stomach while keeping relaxed.
Distancing Technique for Projection:
Maintain the breathing technique outlined above while adding voice. While watching yourself to check for tension, (tightening of muscles), practice greeting yourself at ever increasing distances from a mirror. If you feel any tension in your throat or chest from forcing the sound, stop. Breathe and begin again.
Stand in front of your mirror breathing easily. On your out breath begin a series of Ha-ha-ha-ha’s until all your breath is used.Take an in breath and start again. Vary your laughter. Make it louder, make it quiet and then build it up again. Repeat until you are laughing loudly and easily without any strain.
Make sure your stance and breathing is good. Pin point a place at the far end of your room to talk to. Read aloud from your text, making sure you maintain your relaxed state while using as much vocal variety as you can. A good way to test you’re working as you should is to do this exercise with a partner and they should give you feedback on clarity, variety and pitch. If you find yourself rising in pitch, check your breathing. When we tense, we strain the throat and when that happens our vocal chords are restricted. The result is we force the pitch up and limit the range.
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