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Chapter 3 Voice and Diction.

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1 Chapter 3 Voice and Diction

2 Objectives To develop a more effective speaking voice through relaxation, proper breathing, and good posture To learn habits of good diction in order to develop distinctive, effective voices To use voice quality, pitch, volume, pause, and rate effectively in interpreting character, mood, and meaning.

3 Focus Activity Who’s On First by Abbott and Costello
Ask why the dialogue is so confusing. Have them name specific examples. Explain that the rate of delivery and emphasis placed on words contribute to the comic success of the scene. In this chapter they will learn to improve their diction and use their voices more effectively.

4 Relaxation Proper sounds are made through vowel sounds and vowel sounds are made through a relaxed and open throat, jaw and lips. A tense or tight throat will cause hoarseness when you try to project your voice in practice or performance. Warm Ups Warm Up Exercises Stretch your whole body as an animal does after a nap. Feel the big muscles of your back, lets, and arms ease first. Imagine that a warm, relaxing shower is falling over your head. Imagine it passing over your forehead and wiping out the frown lines. Imagine it releasing the tension of the little muscles around your eyes, nose, mouth, and especially your cheeks. Roll your head first to the left, then to the right, keeping the neck muscles relaxed. Imagine the shower pouring over your whole body, relaxing your arms and fingertips, your chest, lungs, diaphragm, and even your toes. You should be yawning by this time, and that is one of the best voice exercises. Relaxed Jaw – let your head fall forward onto your chest. Lift it up and back, letting your jaw remain loose. Drop it again and slowly roll your head over your right shoulder, back, over your left shoulder and forward. Open Throat – Yawn freely, getting the feeling of an open, relaxed throat. Best exercise for breathing because it comes from a relaxed body. Most of the time when people yawn, they breathe in air from the abdomen, not from the chest, exactly where the actor’s breath must come from. When actors feel nervous, their breathing becomes shorter and shallower. Therefore, actors must train themselves to take deep breaths. Flexible Lips 1 – Say oo-o-a-ah, opening your lips from a small circle to a large one. Then reverse, saying ah-a-o-oo. Keep the tongue flat with the tip at the lower teeth. Keep your throat open and your jaw relaxed. Flexible Lips 2 – Say “me-mo-me-mo-me-mo-me-mo.” Flexible Tongue 1 – Say rapidly: “fud-dud-dud-dud-dah-fud-dud-dud-dud-dah-fud-dud-dud-dud-dah-fril.” Trill the r in fril. Flexible Tongue 2 – Babble like a baby, saying “da-da-da-da-la-la-la-la” moving only the tip of the tongue.

5 Breath Control What is the difference between regular breathing and breathing for speech? Regular breathing The inhalation and exhalation periods are of equal length. Breathing for speech Requires a very brief inhalation period and a slow, controlled exhalation period. In breathing for speech, you should inhale through the mouth since this allows for more rapid intake of breath than through the nose. Controlled breathing is more important to the actor than deep breathing. Example of Controlled breathing: Little Red Riding Hood from Into the Woods or singers

6 Breathe from diaphragm?
What does that mean? Means that the chest cavity stays relatively still, while the lower ribs rise and fall slightly. Requires less chest breathing Allows you to breathe more deeply Provides the control you need to project long passages without running out of breath. Practice daily!!!

7 Four characteristics of the Voice
Must be used for effective voice: Quality Pitch Volume Rate

8 Quality/Tone Individual sound of your voice
Depends on the shape and size of your vocal mechanism, which you will not be able to change You CAN learn to make the most of what you’ve got by keeping your throat open and controlling your breath. If your voice sounds harsh or raspy, it usually is the result of a closed throat. If your voice sounds breathy, you are probably using more breath than you need. Voice quality may also be affected by emotion Tone is the vocal element you use to create different emotional colors when you speak or sing. Tone Exercises Try these techniques to experiment with tone: Tone Exercise Say each of these words – oh, yes, well, really, possibly – to convey each of these emotions or states of being: Happiness, Pride, Fatigue, Fright, Anger, Suspicion, Innocence, Pleading, Sorrow Reproduce the tone color of these words by making your voice sound like the word’s meaning: Bang, Crackle, Swish, Grunt, Tinkle, Roar, Coo, Thin, Wheeze, Bubble, Buzzy, Splash, Clang, Gurgle

9 Pitch Relative highness or lowness of the voice at any given time
Pitch is determined by the rapidity with which the vocal folds vibrate Most persons use only four or five notes in ordinary speaking, but a good speaker can use two octaves or more Pitch gives meaning to speech. Excited, interested, enthusiastic = higher pitch on important words to emphasize them and lower pitch on unimportant words to subordinate them Conflict increases, excitement stirs, comedy builds = higher pitch Variety in pitch is called INFLECTION Without variety in pitch, speakers are unable to hold the attention of their audiences. Overcome this by practice and conscious attention As an actor, you must learn to control the number, length, and direction of your pitch changes. Observe others – notice what different emotions do to the pitch of their voices

10 Volume The relative strength, force, or intensity with which sound is made NOT loudness! Depends upon the pressure with which the air from the lungs strikes the vocal folds. Explosive and Expulsive What is the difference? Explosive – sudden sharp breath pressure – commands, shouts, loud laughter, screams Expulsive – pressure held steady, breath released gradually – used for reading long passages without loss of breath and in building to a dramatic climax Volume is used in combination with other voice characteristics to express various feelings

11 Volume Remember that when you are onstage, it is important to remember that you must use more energy to convey impressions of all kinds than is necessary offstage Think about where your voice is to go and keep your throat relaxed Exercise 1 Greater force to emphasize Exercise 2 Think about where your voice is to go and keep your throat relaxed EXERCISE 1: Say the sentence “I am going home” as though you were saying it to the following people: A friend sitting next to you A person ten feet away Someone across the room Someone in the back row of an auditorium EXERCISE 2: Greater force to emphasize “I love you.” “I didn’t say that to her.” “You don’t think I ate the cake, do you?” “Nothing is too good for you.” “You gave the money to him.”

12 Pause and Rate Use the punctuation in your speech for help in determining pauses. Logical and dramatic pauses demand thought and feeling on your part or you will not have your audience thinking and feeling with you. Pause Chart The speed at which words are spoken is called RATE Steadily increasing speed creates a feeling of tension and excitement Slow, deliberate delivery impressed the hearer with their significance. Show/explain the Pause Chart “on the stage a half-second pause is significant; a full-second pause is emphatic; a two-second pause is dramatic; and, a three-second pause is usually catastrophic!”

13 Diction/Articulation
Diction refers to the selection and pronunciation of words Proper breathing technique, great tone, and perfect pitch will make no difference at all if you have poor diction Poor articulation is generally the result of carelessness and sluggish speech On stage, every word counts, unlike in everyday speech If your speech is to be an asset in your daily usage, you must use clear, correct, pleasing speech that carries well. Practice reading aloud daily Record and analyze your speech and the speech of others

14 Vowel Sounds Spelling is not reliable for pronunciation
Letter A Father Cat Came IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) p. 85 Created to represent the sounds found in all languages Helpful when working with dialects Confusing Vowel Sounds p. 86 Each word should sound different!!! Confusing Vowel Sounds (each word should sound different!!!) Say: feel, fell, fail, foil, fill, fall, file, foul Emphasize “feel” and “fill” Say: teen, ten, ton, tune, tin, tan, turn, torn, town Emphasize “ten” and “tin” Say: eat, at, ate, it, ought Say: peak, peck, puck, park, pork, pike, pick, pack, perk, pock, poke Say: bee, been, bin, ban, barn, born, burn, bow, bone, book, boil Say: dill, dell, dale, deal, dial, doubt, down Say: me, men, man, mince, mile, muck, mark, mount, moon

15 Consonant Sounds Voiceless consonant – no vibration
Voiced consonant – vibration Plosive, Fricative, Nasal Plosive – air is stopped and suddenly released Fricative – air passage is narrowed Nasal – mouth is completely closed; air through nose Voiceless and Voiced Consonants Place finger lightly on throat and feel vibrations of words: Sue – zoo Fail – veil Thin – then Plosive – air is stopped and suddenly released P as in pop; b as in bob; lip against lip T as in time; d as in dame; tip of tongue against upper gum ridge K as in kick; g as in game; back of tongue against soft palate Fricative – air passage is narrowed F as in fan; v as in van; upper teeth on lower lip S as in bus; z as in buzz; front of tongue against upper and lower teeth, which are almost closed Sh as in sure; zh as in azure; tip of tongue turned toward hard palate; teeth almost closed Th as in breath; th as in breathe; tip of tongue against upper teeth Nasal – mouth is completely closed; air through nose M as in mommy; mouth closed by lip on lip Ng as in sing; mouth closed by back of tongue on soft palate N as in nine; mouth closed by tip of tongue on upper gum

16 Avoid these common habits of sloppy speech:
“Didn’t you?”, “Wouldn’t you?” and “Did you?” should be separated to avoid saying “Didncha?”, “Wouldnja?”, and “Didja?” Mumbling, muttering, or dropping words at the end of sentences and letters at the end of words Using the vocal apparatus, especially the tongue, in a lazy manner, resulting from indistinctness Being too meticulous, artificial, or theatrical Voice and Diction in Acting It is an actor’s responsibility to avoid spoiling lines by blurring pronunciation, muffling enunciation or speaking with a nervous rhythm

17 Five Principles to Guide You:
Vowels are the sounds actors can work with in interpretation. Vowels can be lengthened, shortened, and inflected. Verbs are the strongest words in the language. Except for forms of be, verbs should be stressed. Look for “color words” – those that are vividly descriptive. Look especially for those words whose sounds suggest their meaning (onomatopoeias) such as crash, stab, grunt, splash. Rarely stress negative, pronouns, and articles. When a word or phrase is repeated, stress each repetition more than the preceding repetition. Forms of “be”: Am Is Are Was Were (Be, Being, Been) Examples in sentences: “And then bang, crash, the lightning flashed and well, that’s another story, never mind.” “I don’t want to.” “The key, the key!” “No, no, no!”

18 Tongue Twisters Rubber baby buggy bumpers
To make the bitter batter better, Betty bought better butter, beating the better butter into the batter to make the batter better. The dedicated doctor diagnosed the dreaded disease as December dithers. Fickle fortune framed a fine finale for a fancy finish. Could creeping cat keep crafty claws clear of kitchen curtains? Many mortals miss mighty moments more from meager minds than major mistakes. Some people say I lisp when I say soup, soft soap, or something similar, but I don’t perceive it myself. Round and round the ragged rock the rugged rascal ran. Which is the witch that wished the wicked wishes?

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