Who Do You Think I Am?
Who Do You Think I Am?
How does a voice actor create a character voice?

How does a voice actor create a character voice?

Is it possible to know how someone else hears sound? And is this the grossest character voice you've ever heard?

Listen to the podcast above. Read the companion article below.

Me, listening. Really quite hard.

When I hear sound it creates strong synaesthetic responses in me.

When I was a child, the sound of some words made me nauseous - not the meanings of the words, their sounds.

I could taste the sound which was really challenging.

I feel sound in textures, colours and weight.

To me, sound is a solid thing with edges and shape.

I feel sound inside my body - although I'm not sure where. I think it's around my solar plexus but sometimes this sound sense moves.

When I'm writing a piece of music I know what colours I want it to be. I know the thickness, breadth of it. I know how it feels if I imagine I'm putting my hands on it. This multi-sensory experience is a key part of understanding the music my subconscious is telling me to write.

I listen deeply. I can hear nuances in people's speech. I can mimic the sounds quite accurately.

When I create a new character voice - for example, my ‘pompous man’ voice - I imagine the physicality of the character and translate that into sound. (If you listen above you can hear me go through this process).

I want to create a fat voice, so my shoulders hunch up, as if by belly is too big for my arms to just hang at my sides. I thicken my neck. My jaw juts and I create puffy pockets of air in the sides of my cheeks. I want to sound as if I've just been feasting on stilton and port.

My mouth needs to sound wet.

The pitch of my voice drops.

For the ‘pompous man’ voice, I want to infer a kind of corpulence, so the voice becomes rougher, somehow stuck in my throat.

I want to sound as though I’m too fat to breathe properly, too fat to properly speak. I create a lisp and a sibilance where the 's' and 't' sounds I make are created by my front teeth and my bottom lip, instead of the alveolar ridge.

When I make these sounds, I push air out of the sides of my mouth. I use my bottom lip a lot - it creates a 'bloviating' sound.

I love using the illusion of running out of breath, as if I'm relying on rib-reserve breathing when I'm actually not.

This pompous voice is a very 'embodied' sound.

I couldn't make this character voice without creating a sense of the body the voice is attached to.

I feel this 'fake body' physically and visually. I picture what my 'fake body' looks like. I imagine what it feels like to wear this body.

If I can picture the character’s body, if I can feel it, I can make the sound.

If you’ve not already listened to the audio above, have a listen now. You’ll hear how the character voice sounds.


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Who Do You Think I Am?
Who Do You Think I Am?
A behind-the-scenes earful straight from a sound artist's studio to your inbox, designed to inspire curiosity.