Monday, 28 September 2015

How a Female Narrator can Sound Like a Man for Audio Books

A woman cannot be expected to sound like a man, but the audio book listener appreciates the narrator making the effort when a piece of dialogue is spoken by a man. I was able to deepen my voice so I could sound something like a man to differentiate from the general narration. Here’s how I did this.

Narrating Tips

Narrating audio books means the narrator has to change the pitch of her voice to differentiate between character voices and her own voice. An annoyance for the audio book listener is not knowing who’s talking in the audio book.

Take a listen to an excerpt from A Hard Lesson by Charles J Harwood narrated by Violet North (copyright 2015). A man has been seduced into crime by a charismatic psychopath, Kurt. Notice Kurt has a deep and rather sinister voice, but Joe’s voice is a little lighter. Both sound quite male, yet sound different. Notice also the difference in tone between the female narrator and the voices.

How to Deepen  your Voice

Train the voice over a couple of weeks before recording. This means slowly going up and down the scales to increase flexibility of the vocal chords. I found I got squeaky or croaky when hitting my limit. Don’t worry, just keep working on your voice every day or every other day a few times. Do this in the car, in the shower, wherever. You will find you will eventually hit the lower notes.

Record the male voices first off in the recording session. I found my voice can reach those lower notes best after a rest. When my voice got tired, my voice tends to get increasingly croaky.

Avoid things that chill the vocal chords: cold air, cold water and even minty chewing gum. These chilled my vocal chords causing my voice to seize up and feel tight and husky when put under pressure.

Voice Narration Tips

Yawn. When your voice gets croaky on those lower notes, have a yawn. It sometimes works.

I found I could hit those lower notes when speaking a little slower than usual. Don’t worry if this sounds odd, most sound editing software (I use Audacity) enables you to increase the tempo of your voice without affecting the pitch. be careful to get the pace just right and listen to make sure the tempo is in keeping with the rest of the narration.

Don’t get too deep with the male voice (unless a very deep tone is intended), as it could sound forced and unnatural. Some men’s voices are not that deep. Also don't lather on the base of the equalization or to lower the pitch artificially as the result will just sound odd. I prefer to coach my voice without artificially affecting the pitch or using extra bass from the equalizer.

If the voice won't reach those the required notes, don't push it. Rest the voice and try again tomorrow. Forging on with a tired voice will only waste hours of recording time.

Audio Book Narration Articles

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