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quarkquarkquark's avatar

How can I achieve the voice I want?

Asked by quarkquarkquark (1690 points ) July 2nd, 2011

I’m talking about being able to speak from the diaphragm, with deep guttural resonance. I’ve read plenty about it, and I’ve been doing some exercises, but nothing has helped all that much. I sound good when I wake up in the morning, but after an hour or so I get the “throat voice” that makes me hard to hear when it’s loud and, perhaps, a little bit ineffectual-sounding. Any advice on what to do or read? If you seem helpful, I’ll probably want to PM you.

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10 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Take voice lessons from a professional.

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quarkquarkquark's avatar

I have many friends who are singers or actors—few of them speak in the kind of voice they use when on stage. I’m not sure quite how to approach.

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zenvelo's avatar

I used to oversee a trading crowd on an options exchange and needed to be heard over the yelling of the trading crowd. We were taught to squeeze our stomach muscles to force our diaphragm to in turn force a column of air over the vocal cords.

lifeflame's avatar

It takes a while to get into the habit.
Basically you want to get into the habit of diaphragm breathing, so whenever you have a moment, check in with yourself that you are breathing with your diaphragm, and not your chest. The best way to check is to place both of your hands on your lower back, and and breath into your palms there until you feel it expand gently. Once you understand the sensation, you can forgo the hands. Check in with yourself whenever you have a moment, on your commute, even sitting in your chair at work.

The other thing you need to notice is what kind of context gives you a throat voice. For example, I noticed that there was one class in particular I used to teach where I was “pushing” my voice, and I would get a sore throat afterwards. This class was particularly unruly, and it caused me a lot of stress, so the stress was affecting my voice. So being aware of when you’re using your throat voice is the first step, and then you can tune yourself.

I would also recommend some sort of regular exercise like yoga. There’s a wonderful sun salutation / voice warm up that we use in our theatre ensemble when we warm up our voices for the stage. Let me know if you want more info on this stuff.

What sort of exercises have you been doing already?

quarkquarkquark's avatar

I’ve been trying to do diaphragmatic breathing, for starters. I do okay, but sometimes I struggle to get a deep breath. I’ve been doing various word exercises lying on my back and standing up “looooooove hoooooney saaaaaamba” or “ed is an odd egg up on an eve”, etc.

longtresses's avatar

Not sure how this’ll be helpful, other than adding useless facts. You asked for DIY. Anyway here it is..

Years ago I’d taken a few singing lessons—more like local karaoke classes but the teacher was an actor. I was told that vocal articulation is a habit you acquired in childhood. You copy everything from people around you, and this includes the way you vocalize or express yourself or get your point across. If your house is typically quiet and your parents tend to whisper, or they somehow don’t value your voicing out opinion, you tend to become soft-spoken as well. Like you swallow your voice. Or if you’re a thinker type, or you’re not so grounded in your body, you’d tend to speak from inside your head, as a metaphor.

Another thing is that vocalizing is.. psychological? It reflects your state of mind. When I speak English, my 2nd language, I’m not nearly as natural or fully voiced as when I speak my native language. There’s always that little mental twinge, like an inferiority mental block, that holds me back. I could never express myself in English spontaneously as if it’s coming from me as a whole… hard to explain.. As if, if you’re inhibited in some way, or if you don’t completely believe what you’re saying, you’re not going to sound resonant. An example my teacher gave me: some people can’t say “no” because they come from a family that don’t value their opinions, so they don’t have a “voice.” People are more silent in some cultures than others, especially in high-conformity cultures. I’m not a voice expert so could very well be wrong here. Please correct or refute my statements otherwise..

So in singing lessons what the teacher often did was to have me mimic his vocalizing. He would sing along so that I could “tune in” to him. But my habit was so well-formed that once I left the class I could hardly replicate the resonant, non-flat vocalizing that we practiced in class. It takes a lot of practice and whole-body awareness, and to this day I could vaguely remember how to form that space in my mouth for the purpose of singing. I didn’t grow up voice-conscious, so all this wasn’t easy for me.

I really think you should find a professional voice coach, maybe take 2–3 classes just to get a starter feel, because how else are you going to correct yourself? Vocal articulation, let alone teaching it, is an expertise. You could check out Fitzmaurice Voicework in case you’re interested in workshops. Or ask lifeflame or your theater friends.. before they start charging you for it..

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Use that recorder on your smartphone to regularly train your voice to sound exactly the way you want it to. That’s what I do when practicing for voice overs. Once you get the sound, tonality and timing down, you can work on how it feels, directing the effort from the upper gut and begin to add inflection much better.

Begin your morning with voice exercises by running through as many scales of do, ra, me… as you can from low to high and back down again. Do this at medium comfortable volume with hand cupped over ear directing sound to better hear yourself with. Or better yet, stand in a corner so your voice bounces back into your ears. Breathe through your stomach and make sure your throat muscles stay limber even on the most difficult tones.

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