Technical Issues: Voice

The question of my inability to do character voices not withstanding, my decision to record audiobooks has thrown up another, hitherto undiscovered, technical issue with respect to my voice: that of its quality.

Now, a few people have told me I have a nice voice (and they haven’t always been hitting on me), but that doesn’t translate to a consistent reading voice that lasts for over an hour of takes and retakes. I think part of my conviction that my reading voice sounded boring was due to the fact that I’d run out of breath and my voice would sort of croak to the end of the sentence.

Part of the issue here is one of adaptation, to the extent that written punctuation does not always accommodate the read or spoken word. (So, it was true when I was taught that commas aren’t just placed where a reader might take a breath!) But other aspects of the problem are clearly due to  vocal strength and breath control, or lack thereof on my part.

Coincidentally, around the time I was taking up recording audiobooks for Librivox the second time, a friend on Twitter posted a request for feedback on the first lesson of a smartphone app she’s developing for the voice. I decided to take her up on it and got a bonus second lesson and a mini warm-up routine, both of which I also provided feedback for. (I do like it when a mutually beneficial exchange of talents works out.)

I now do the mini-warm up before every recording session.  The cat may look at me in alarm when I sigh down my vocal range, but it feels good to limber up before I start.

I’m not sure I’m the best judge of my own development, but the effect of the lessons and warm-up has been to make me more aware of how I use my voice  when I’m reading and to have some modest goals in relation to looking after and maintaining it.

The world still needs to be spared from my singing, but.

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About Kirsty Leishman

Currently enrolled in a Grad Dip of Teaching and Learning in anticipation of teaching English and Film, TV & New Media to high school students. Abandoned a PhD in television. Completed an MPhil on zines. Honours in Australian grunge literature. Long time university tutor of media, communications, cultural studies and academic writing. Opinionated. View all posts by Kirsty Leishman

5 responses to “Technical Issues: Voice

  • Flloyd Kennedy (@flloydpk)

    Thanks for the pingback, Kirsty. It’s great to know you are gaining benefit from the mp3s, and I’m sure the cat is just jealous. If your warmup feels good to you, it IS good.

    As for the singing, it’s part of being human to sing, and there’s no good, bad or indifferent but somebody else’s judgment makes it so. The more we sing, the better we sound. I’m on a mission, inspired by my mate Ira, to get us all singing the way we used to in the olden days, when it was everybody in the community’s responsibility to contribute their voices in song. Long way to go, I know 🙂

    • Kirsty

      No problem, Flloyd. It’s all been great fun. I’m fairly sure the cat does her own vocal exercises when she runs madly around the house, yowling.

      I’ll keep your mission in mind when I hesitate to sing in the future. I think I’ll explain it to people first though 😉

  • Matt (@mattt111)

    I’ve been told that standing up (or sitting on a tall stool and keeping a straight back) can help because it allows your diaphragm more freedom of movement.

    • Kirsty

      Funny you should say that, Matt. I did try that the other night, because I’d been sitting most of the day, and yes, it did feel better. I’ll try it again thinking about my breathing.

  • Technical: Song « Reading Sheilas

    […] was interested to read in a comment made on the ‘Technical: Voice’ post here that there was a time ‘when it was […]

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