Podcasts Voice Over Experts Debating the Signature Voice
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Debating the Signature Voice

Stephanie Ciccarelli
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Join Voice Over Expert Cynthia Songé in her lecture “Debating the Signature Voice.” Your personality is a passport to individuality — the individuality that is at the very core of your performance and the energy that people will respond to. You will have different emotional responses for every project, but you have to know who you are and trust yourself to break free from the limitations that may be imposed by having only one “signature” voice.

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Cynthia Songé, Signature Voice, Voice Actors, Susan Blu, Voice Overs, Voice Acting

Transcript of Debating the Signature Voice

[Opening Music]
Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
This week, Voices.com is pleased to present Cynthia Songè.
Cynthia Songè: I recently was working with an actor whose commercial and animation demo I’m producing and he said, “Cyn, you know, I know who I’m talking to when I do my characters. I know who they are. But who am I in these commercials spots?” He said, “I’ve listened to so many commercial reels that I’ve heard posted to see if I can figure out who my voice is. I think I’m suppose dto have a brand, you know, a signature.” and I’m starting to hear this a lot from the actors.
Personally to me, that’s just too limiting of a concept because we all are multifaceted in our attitudes and emotions and of course how we exhibit them differently depending upon who we’re talking to and certainly what we’re talking about. As actors, particularly voice actors, we have the ability and the technique to call upon them out honestly. That’s our job. If I’m talking to someone about a great hamburger that I just had at a big fast-food chain, my delivery will be enthusiastic with some energy and some excitement as I recall the delicious taste and the pleasure button that it pushed, “Hey, I just had this great hamburger. You’ve got to try it. It’s got extra cheese and extra lettuce and they may even add a little bacon if you want.” And of course if I’m describing an elegant and beautiful qualities of a De Beers diamond it will have a totally different feel. Which one is me? Well, both and everything in between.
Similarly, who I’m talking to will be altered. Am I describing the diamond to my best friend as I’m excited by receiving it as a present? “You won’t believe this gorgeous diamond he gave me,” or am I describing to someone who I’m having a romantic relationship with that maybe gave it to me as a gift, “Oh, thank you for this gorgeous diamond. It’s beautiful.” Again both are real and authentic and that’s what our job is as voice actors, reading, giving the illusion that we’re not reading as Susan Blu says and being authentically our selves in the doing of it.
Our personality is our passport to our individuality and that is what casting directors, producers, clients and the target market is responding to. We can all read the very same piece of copy and follow the specs to a (T). What will make your read different than mine is that it’s you and in being you, you will have different emotional responses rather than just one emotion or attitude or sound for whatever you read. Of course, it’s very important to know who we really are and not try to be someone we’re not but not at the sake of pigeonholing ourselves with limitations.
When I hear demos with lots of variety and great reads, I’m not going to say, “Gee, I wish they had less range.” No, we must honor who we are, all of who we are and know that everyday that we wake up, we’re that much more. As voice actors we learn how to navigate these feelings and emotions and combine them with our heart and our soul. So, know that who you are is enough but be sure to be all of who you are.
Julie-Ann Dean: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Podcasts.Voices.com/VoiceoverExperts. Remember to stay subscribed.
If you’re a first time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes Podcast Directory or by visiting Podcasts.Voices.com. To start your voiceover career online, go to Voices.com and register for a voice talent membership today.
[Closing Music]

Links from today’s show:</h3.
Cynthia Songé

Your Instructor this week:

Cynthia SongéVoice Over Expert Cynthia Songé

Cynthia Songé grew up in Southern California and graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Theater Arts. She is an accomplished actor, voice actor, voice-over teacher, casting director, and demo producer who loves teaching, her students, the sound of the ocean, watching her “kids” grow up, and her four-legged furry creatures. She calls the Central Coast of California home.
Cynthia has voiced numerous animation characters as well as commercials including such nationals as Mercury Sable, Sizzler, and Nationwide Insurance Campaigns. She has also appeared on television and in feature film roles as an on-camera actress as well as theatrical roles. She is a long standing member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre and a recipient of the Hugh O’Brian Acting Award. Cynthia works with Susan Blu at Blupka Productions as a voice over instructor and casting director. Together, Susan and Cynthia have co-authored “Word of Mouth, A Guide to VoiceOver Excellence, Vol. 3″.

Enjoyed Cynthia’s episode? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Stephanie Ciccarelli
Stephanie Ciccarelli is a Co-Founder of Voices. Classically trained in voice as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. For over 25 years, Stephanie has used her voice to communicate what is most important to her through the spoken and written word. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, Stephanie has been a contributor to The Huffington Post, Backstage magazine, Stage 32 and the Voices.com blog. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.
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  • Joe J Thomas
    February 20, 2008, 8:48 pm

    Awesome as always!
    Great to hear you again… Solid advice.
    FYI: Cynthia did my current demos, and it was a fantastic experience. Her classes were also invaluable in boosting my confidence and skills.
    Hope you’re doing wonderfully well,

  • Deby Cedars
    February 22, 2008, 8:19 pm

    Hi Cynthia,
    I am such a fan of your production work and of your students. I totally agree with you about giving a different sound for a each different character. I rarely get announcer jobs but, I do get a lot of character work for video games. Range has helped me although it does confuse some casting directors that then don’t know what “box” to put me in.
    I’m in CT but, I hope to meet with you and work with you some day. If you or Susan ever make it to the NYC or CT area please let me know. (I’ve sent you a recording) Thanks
    Your Actress,
    Deby Cedars
    (203) 735-1235

  • SomeAudioGuy
    February 23, 2008, 6:58 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve found in casting, that the idea of “signature” has gotten mixed up with some of the more technical ideas of technique. I see this quite a bit with some of my trailer voice guys (for example). They’ve gotten so wrapped up in their resonance, cadence, and proximity, that there’s no brain space left for their own personalities. They’re working the mic like crazy, painting the air with broad strokes, and there’s no sparkle, no wit.
    Cynthia, in criticizing the idea of a “signature” actually nails the idea on the head. Your sig is WHO YOU ARE, not a single read you might have.
    At the end of the day, all of our techniques and methods and whathaveyou should be helping us in getting to one thing. As efficiently as possible, what do YOU bring to piece of copy?
    Lots of people can say all the words right…

  • Eileen Galindo
    February 26, 2008, 12:05 am

    Wow! Thank you Thank you Thank you… Here’s to those of us that are voiceover jack of all trades!

  • Connie Terwilliger
    March 30, 2008, 12:04 am

    Cynthia – great debate. I heard your “signature sound” – the sound that your particular head, body, mouth shape, bone density, nasal passages, etc. makes – doing different attitudes, but you were there all the time – no mistake.
    I spoke to a top agent in LA a couple of years ago – he wanted a real sound – more than someone who had a great variety of sounds. Someone whose delivery grabbed him by the ears and connected.
    Now, that was a general statement – he represents actors who do lots of characters, of course. But the point was that focusing on versatility can lead to being a jack of all trades and a master of none.