Finding The Poetry In Your Voice
Over Performance: Be Who You Are
By Kabir Singh
Voice Actor & Coach
I was born a poet.
In my adolescence, I often found myself communicating my human suffering with pen and paper. The words didn't always rhyme nor did the message always reflect much grace.
But poetry allowed me to understand the complexities of human emotions. Voice acting is all about human emotions.
Think about some of the most powerful commercials and narratives you've heard on screen.
For example, the poetry found in the cadence and volume intensity of the Apple Commercial starring Robin Williams. Did you catch the build in intensity? What about the fluidity of the words and sentences? That's where the voice actor who is not a trained poet can find their "poetic read."
POETRY AND SPOKEN WORD
How is poetry different than spoken word performance?
Aside from cultural and historical roots, they are best friends of each other and very similar.
The art of spoken word is one that involves performative attributes. Often accompanied with powerful mixes of infections and tones. A voice actor can practice spoken word and poetic performances by simply trying various speeds, inflections and pauses given to a voice over script or pre-written poem.
But what about all the complexities of human emotions?
You don't have to be a master of emotions to understand and express them on the microphone. You just have to be aware of all the subtleties and differences in the full spectrum of human emotions. For example, to know how to express the subtle difference between happy and joyful or the contrast between anger and motivated uproar.
One of the best tools I found for allowing an individual to navigate the spectrum of human emotions is the Junto Emotion Wheel from The Junto Institute.
LEARN THE DEPTHS
Play the exaggerated and/or subtle differences on the microphone and learn the depths of your human emotional intelligence.
Music is a great way to find a poetry in your voice over read. By simply having an undertone of music during an audition you will be able to generate a stronger emotional connection with the piece.
For example, you could use a music bed that starts soft and intimate but then builds in energy and climax.You often see this with great motivating voice over scripts. Or you could have a high intensity energetic commercial copy with no pauses or breaks, and this could be great for practicing pacing.
Once you combine the elements of music, words and stylistic delivery of performance on the microphone you can naturally come up with your own poetic cadence.
POETRY IS IN YOU
You don't have to be born a poet to be a poet. We all have a little bit of poetry in us. We've all experienced suffering, we have all experience grace. What is found in between it all is love.
Don't limit yourself. Allow yourself to grow as a creative artist by reflecting on your full spectrum of human emotions - especially during your auditions. From the breath we take to the inflections we nail - a true voice actor never fears dancing the line of imagination and performance.
A master I am not. A student I must be. A voice actor I am. But it's the poet that frees me.
Be who you are, and the path will open wide. Let your light shine bright so darkness will hide.
Much love and forever grace.
With over a decade of experience as a professional voice actor and poet, Kabir Singh has worked with some of the world's biggest brands including Apple, Mazda, T-Mobile and the NFL. Trained as a poet and spoken word artist, Kabir teaches the art of finding your unique voice through poetry, philosophy, and vulnerability.
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