Many voices can mean many paychecks -- and way more fun. Whether a full-blown dialect is called for, or just a hint of something exotic, a voice has to be consistent from take to take and session to session. You want to be able to pull that dialect out of your back pocket with no warning. Fortunately, the science of phonetics provides the tools you need to gain control over those voices. And each phonetic sound has a name. When something has a name, you can remember it, and learning to recognize the sounds and their names is the secret to dialect recall. That training, and the hours you spend with the best native-speaker recording archives, can lead to really credible voices.
But credible does not always mean authentic. After all, the casting director can always track down a native speaker when authenticity matters. If authenticity is not the goal, and consistency is not enough, what makes a voice credible? Here's a helpful answer from Voice One's celebrity dialect coach Doug Honorof.
"Obviously articulatory flexibility, familiarity with dialects and consistency are all very important, but they only get you so far. Conviction is what matters most -- believing that you are really from a place frees you to act past the accent. If you believe, the casting director is more likely to buy it, too. I like to get my students to a place where they are so good a switching into and out of a dialect that they can forget about the accent altogether and just act -- or even improvise -- in accent. That's the sweet spot."
Doug's last piece of advice? "You may be surprised at how quickly you can expand your range with the right training, but don't risk alienating a casting director by listing dialects on your resume until you have really worked them. If in doubt, ask your coach."
Doug Honorof teaches a series of dialects classes at Voice One between Thursday, June 2 and Monday, June 6.