“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” That is the most famous line in movie history, and one of the most tear-inducing lines too. Those words were spoken by the great Clarke Gable, the king of Hollywood. The man whose voice was at one time the most distinguishable voice in Hollywood and the world. But Clarke’s voice was not always like that. In fact, his voice was naturally high pitched. Not at all the voice of a leading Hollywood heartthrob. So what made the difference?
Controlled voice projection.
What is Voice Projection?
Voice projection is the technique of controlling the volume, pitch, and distance that your voice travels. It is a way of making your voice command more attention by its clarity and well-rounded tone. One problem with being human is that the body has its limits and flaws. As an actor, one of your limits could be your voice. But fortunately, it is a limit you can work on and improve – saving your career.
Contrary to popular belief, voice projection is not yelling. Yelling is simply increasing the volume of your voice by straining your vocal chords. This is a practice that is detrimental to your voice. Voice projection is the controlled release of air through your vocal chords and doesn’t put a strain on any part of your body. This way, your voice will last as long as you do.
Voice Projection Techniques – The Dynamics of Your Voice
The human body is one big sound machine. All you have to do is know how to fine tune it to produce the sound you require. Here are a few voice exercises for actors and projection techniques you can easily master to produce that clear ear tickling voice Hollywood would love to showcase.
1. Master Your Breathing
As with all sound producing instruments, the major element is air. To project your voice well, you have to learn to breathe through your diaphragm. Practice using the “ha” technique and you will soon learn how to control your diaphragm to project your voice. Simply take a big deep breath in and then force all that air out on a “ha.” The sound will travel far and will be very clear, even at the far end of the room. No strain on the vocal chords, yet a loud, distinct sound is produced. Practice breathing this way whenever you speak and soon your breathing technique will be in sync with your speech – giving you the strong voice you’re after.
2. Relax Your Jaw and Throat
The channels that your voice travels through must be relaxed in order for it to sound to its best potential. Those channels are the throat and mouth. Make sure your throat and jaw muscles are relaxed. You can do this by yawning. Yes, yawning is a great exercise to relax the muscles involved in projecting your voice. A good yawning session before a performance will do you a lot of good.
3. Use Your Entire Body
Hard to believe but your voice is affected by your entire body. Different body postures cause changes in the way your voice sounds and is projected. To best project your voice, your body posture must be erect yet relaxed. The spine should be straight, the head facing forward and the crown of the head parallel to the ceiling so that the respiratory system may be as free as possible.
4. Be Confident
Every actor has to work on their confidence. Not just for the sake of the performance but for the sake of the voice as well. Lack of confidence causes your voice to have slight tremors and lose a lot of its power. Confidence gives your voice authority, clarity, and distance. The best way to build up your confidence is to know your lines well. Oh, and to practice speaking in front of people as much as possible.
5. Warm Up – Voice and Body
A good warm-up routine is advisable before every performance. A good physical warm-up of bending at the waist, shaking your body, and stretching your body will make you relaxed enough to use your vocal muscles well. Exercise your voice as well by reciting some tongue twisters to help with articulation.
Mic Check, One-Two, One-Two
Good voice projection techniques are great, but that doesn’t do away with the need for stage mics in the theatre. Rather, good voice projection and theatre stage mics are complimentary. A proper mic set-up and well-projected voices will make the performance clear throughout the entire auditorium, giving the audience a pleasant experience.