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March 2017 Newsletter  |  Number 143
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Upcoming Classes

Daytime Conservatory - 3/7-5/9
Home Recording: Audacity - 3/7
Making It M.I.N.E. - 3/8-29
Narration Styles  - 3/11-12
Diction & Clarity - 3/13
Small Group Workout - 3/16
Stepping Out - 3/18
Creating Characters - 3/18
Positioning & Branding - 3/19
Making Strong Choices - 3/20-4/24
Dialects Series - 3/23-27
Behind The Scenes - 3/28
That's NOT All Folks - 4/1-2
INTRO: Starting Out - 4/5
Professional Invitational - 4/6
Styles - 4/8-9
Many classes sell out.
Register early! 

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for first year.
$60/year thereafter.

Producers are listening
by Doug Honorof

You know those actors who can just switch from one voice to another without taking a beat: people who play four voices on a single cartoon or game, impressionists and sketch comedians? Are they musical prodigies with perfect pitch? Is there any hope for me if I was not born that way?

Well, some people certainly seem to be natural-born mimics, but psychologists are still debating the nature/nurture question. That debate is similar to the debate about 'perfect pitch' - the ability to recognize and reproduce a tone in isolation without also having to hear a reference note. There is a lot of misinformation out
there about perfect pitch, just as there is for speech talent. First, few great musical performers have perfect pitch. Second, there is no strong evidence of a genetic basis
for perfect pitch, though it seems to be found even in people who do not have the training to name notes using in traditional terms. Some recent studies have suggested
that infants normally start out with perfect pitch, but that some lose it along the way. Although there is no strong evidence that perfect pitch can be restored once lost, there is some evidence that phonetic training, especially articulatory training, may improve an adult's ability to master a foreign language accent. Phonetic training appears to be very effective in helping actors hone accents and impressions in their own language. Given that, talent at imitating voices appears to be trainable, unlike perfect pitch.

Certainly, we have all seen great character performances with full-blown accents. We have all also seen great impressions of politicians and celebrities. However, when you measure impressions against their target voices acoustically, it turns out that the impressions are usually not perfect replicas of the original voice, but primarily exaggerations of the most recognizable aspects of a voice.

I deal with these issues in my dialect workshops. We start by building a phonetic 'toolbox'. Then, we work through phonetic imitation of every aspect of the voice of real
speakers - imitations that are much more true to the original than a typical comedic impression. From those imitations, we build voice types (accents), and create novel characters that are vivid, consistent and fun to play. This technique works great for people who are already good at doing voices, but also for actors who have previously hit a wall when trying to morph their voice in any consistent way, especially with dialect parts. The voices that come out can be very believable. In fact, many actors have walked out of five days of intensive dialect training with new, demo-ready voices, even actors
who always thought they could never pull off dialects.

Doug Honorof teaches his Accents & Dialects classes at Voice One between Thursday, March 23 and Monday, March 27.
Sunday Drop-In Improv
Two sessions in March: 12th and 26th

​​$15 cash at the door.

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Voice One
Voice-Over > On-Camera > Improv > Casting > Audio Production
665 Third Street, Suite 227  San Francisco, California 94107   

Tel: 415-974-1103  Fax: 415-974-1105