Ever heard of “Vocal shape-shifting”? Pat Fraley shares some tips on how to bring the uniqueness of you out in a variety of reads including storytelling methods for commercials, narration, and audiobooks.
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Transcript of Vocal Shape-Shifting
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This week, Voices.com is pleased to present Pat Fraley.
Hi, this is Pat Fraley with a brief lesson on vocal shape shifting. What the heck is vocal shape shifting? You haven’t heard of it? Well, perhaps it’s because I made it up. I’ll get to a specific lesson on it in a bit.
Generally, it’s a method which is very handy when approaching narration; one-person radio spot of TV spot or an audition book narration. It’s on my mind as I prepare for teaching the TV and Radio Commercial Masters event in San Francisco coming up. Voice over performers need solid technique, methods, and mind sets as they go about constructing their choices for auditions and performance.
Sure, there are performers who are naturally talented, specifically with storytelling skills, and they do pretty well just winging it. But that’s not the case for 90% of my students, even gifted ones who I’ve taught.
Shape shifting is just one technique or method, but it’s a very handy one. Actually, the concept of vocal shape shifting is something I coined based on a comment which Paul Rubin, a stellar audiobook producer made while I was teaching with him in New York.
He was speaking of reading fiction and made the observation that the narrator in a book is a character and the character’s dialogue or narrator’s dialogue is their texts. He mentioned the narrator glides from aligning him or herself with one character in a book to another with ease, either their intellectual state or emotional state.
It’s a kind of shape shifting. I always had the notion that a narrator, even an announcer in a commercial was kind of a reporter with some personality, but not a whole lot. I’ll give you an example of this later, but for now, I want to dig deeper into this. It turns out all the time I spent in acting school about freeing inhibitions was addressing the ability to be able to get [0:02:44] at expressing inner emotion and particularly with the voice.
The reason it took me nearly 40 years to get this is because I personally didn’t need all those lessons about being uninhibited. I needed lessons on how to get inhibited as I was surrounded by very wild and wily people and great storytellers.
But for most people, they benefit from this freeing up and gain storytelling skills. It strikes me that this clear flow of emotions from the way one feels to the character, narrator, or announcer’s lines is fundamental to excellence and the way in voice over we express our personal style. In other words, this vocal shape shifting is really an important skill.
Now for my example, here’s a couple of lines from say a detective novel. First, a reader without any shape shifting. In other words, I’m not going to let my narrator emotionally align with either one of the characters he’s reading about. Here goes: She walked into the office and she was gorgeous. From the moment she saw him sitting behind the desk, she disliked him.
Now, I’m going to read the same passage and shape shift. On the first sentence, the narrator is going to align himself with the man sitting behind the desk. On the second sentence, I’m going to shift to the woman’s emotions. She walked into the office and she was gorgeous. From the moment she saw him sitting behind the desk, she disliked him. Did you get it?
Now here’s the interesting part. It’s very subjective on my part as a performer who I shift to at any point. That’s one way how a performer’s style and uniqueness is revealed. I could have very well shifted in the opposite way that being aligning myself with the woman on the first line then shifting to the man’s emotions on the second like this. She walked into the office and she was gorgeous. From the moment she saw him sitting behind the desk, she disliked him.
Cool huh? Did you hear the difference? Do you vocally shape shift? Challenge yourself to define how you shape shift on your next project or audition, and know that this works for commercials and other voice over applications, even a character voice.
Know this, you won’t be hearing casting people or directors talking about your shape shifting, and if you bring it up, they’ll probably stare at you like a frozen steer. What you will hear, and I’ve heard about this, is how they hear your uniqueness and how you’re different than other voice over performers. Well, having this concept in mind may help you deliver what we all want; a little piece of you.
If you find this of interest and would like to get more training on how to bring your personal style out in your performance, know that I’m coming to San Francisco, Saturday, May 2nd, to once again teach with my friend and stellar instructor, John Erlandson.
We’ll be presenting the Radio and TV Commercial Masters event in teaching advance skills and delivering excellence from the booth. For more information on how to enroll, just go to my website PatFraley.com, and go to the Learn page. And thanks for listening.
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for listening. Stop me before I shape shift again. Stop me.
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Links from today’s show:
Pat teaches across the US. As he mentioned, a masters class was held in San Francisco previously. For more information and to find out when other Pat Fraley weekend workshops are, visit his website PatFraley.com
Your Instructor this week:
Patrick Fraley has created voices for over 4,000 characters, placing him among the top ten performers of all time to be cast in animation. He has produced dozens of award-winning audiobooks, such as, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Very Easy Death, and The Light in The Piazza. Pat produced and performed all 100 voices on the award winning audiobook, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which People Magazine hailed as, “The best yet of this evergreen.” Patrick teaches events, workshops, and seminars on various aspects of voice over across the country, and has created a variety of instructional books and CDs, all available at PatFraley.com. He is a member of The Voice and Speech Trainers of America, and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Professional Acting from Cornell University.