Voice work day 2: Poop metaphors–a critical analysis of Vocal coaching books

Since I’m working on my voice, I’m going take a minute to talk about the voice of my main two books–both recommended by actors: Voice: Onstage and Off, and Freeing the Natural Voice.

If I had to choose a voice to narrate these in, I’d have to say that Freeing the Natural Voice should be read by a stuffy English professor, while Voice shoud read more like that uncle of yours who dresses like he’s going to an Eminem concert and dominates a little bit too much of your female friends’ time at your high school graduation.

While the British Freeing the Natural Voice, has lines like, “The lips, as the part of the face that guards the mouth, can develop into heavily armed portcullises or doors on well-oiled hinges which open readily to allow egress,”  Voice is more interested in whether you announce you’re going to the bathroom by saying you’re going to “powder your nose” or “take a dump” or “park a coil”?  It also talks about how sometimes you, like, are totally “grossed out” by your voice.

While I’m annoyed by metaphors like “park a coil” in a book that really isn’t about the finer points of how to improve your shits, it does win points for hating on Tom Cruise — with quotes!  “All I could think of was (in a Mickey Mouse voice) ‘I am the vampire Lestat!’ I mean, he has the highest, reediest voice in the world!” says Julia Phillips, the original producer of Interview with a Vampire.

There’s another long quote from Anne Rice about Tom Cruise’s inherent suckiness–I’d heard this one before.

One book wants to improve your voice by being your friend, the other by being your professor. Either way, they’re chock full of advice about how my voice is a cave, its deep inside me, its the most subtle part of my subconscious, I need to free it, I need to control it, I need to think of it as an instrument, I need to relax it and forget about it, talk more like a man (how did they know?!), talk less like a man.

Both books are focused on 1) having me do breathing exercisees (relaxing the abs to find a natural pace of breath) and 2) asking myself questions to find out what my voice really sounds like.

All these breathing exercises and  moments of shallow introspection mean that I’ve been falling asleep on the early side.  This isn’t too say it hasn’t been working–when I have more time I will upload some samples of my voice.

I can tell you that I speak with vocal fry–my voice catches and is heard from my throat, with a somehwat staccato rhythm and a moderate speaking tempo.  I’m sure part of its psychological, but al these breathing exercises have at least made me aware of how tense I keep my throat–to the point where it is actually distractingly disconcerting.

In other words, the perfect excuse to go walk around the office when I’m bored.


About Big Adam

A NYC doorman, a community organizer, wannabe ape, sometimes blogger, sometimes writer, always crossword puzzle incompleter, I will ride bicycles with your papa, dance Bhangra with your mama, take you on dates that cost nada.
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