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Thursday, July 04, 2013

How to Achieve The Correct Tone of Voice in Voice Overs

Playing with Mood: The Tone

Every good actor and professional speaker knows how to use her voice to her advantage. Getting to know your voice, being able to use different tones of voice to set the mood, and understanding how your voice can come across to others can help you to communicate more clearly and effectively.The tone of voice you choose impacts your audience and may also determine how your audience receives what you’re saying.

 If you grew up watching cartoons produced by Warner Bros.,Hanna-Barbera, and so on that employed smaller voice casts with a sizable number of characters, you’ve probably seen just how versatile a voice actor can be when using her instrument to the fullest. Legendary voice actors like Mel Blanc and Daws Butler manipulated their voices to make full use of their range and tonality, and implemented creative decisions for spot-on inflections and comedic deliveries.

 This article explains what tone is, identify elements that can affect the tone of your voice, and characteristics that are related to tone and attribute to vocal performance. You can use this information when you interpret a script and get the absolute most out of each character and piece of copy you encounter.

Understanding what tone is

Have you ever heard that it’s not what you say, but it’show you say it? Anyone who uses her voice to communicate needs to be aware of tone. Tone refers to the overall quality of a voice and also how the sound of a voice comes across to others. Tone can express a particular feeling or a mood in addition to its sound in general.

When you’re communicating something important and have a solid argument behind you, the tone of your voice has a way of shaping how other people receive what you’re saying.

Identifying elements that affect tone

Certain elements that you can control affect your voice’stone. These five elements include the following:

·        Attitude: Something as simple as your attitude or state of mind can dramatically impact how your voice sounds when delivering a script. Everyone leads busy lives and faces daily challenges, so not letting what is going on at home, at work, and in the world affects your mood, and how you sound isn’t easy. As an actor, you need to get to a place where you can put those other things out of your mind and focus on the task at hand.


·        Breath support: You’d be surprised by how greatly the lack of breathing techniques and poor support can affect the overall quality of voice. Proper breathing techniques and support from the diaphragm help set you up for success, both in terms of producing a desirable,consistent tone and getting through a phrase comfortably.


·        Artistic choices you make: A little planning can go a long way when shaping the tone of your voice. Because the voice is a versatile instrument, you want to experiment and play with different segments of your voice by varying its pitch (where your voice sits, whether high or low), inflection (how you say something), and the gravity of the wordsyou’re saying (where you place emphasis).


·        Use a pencil to mark your script and include directions reflecting the mood, where your voice may go up or down, and also factor in where you can take breaths. Doing so can help you to remember your good ideas, solidify choices, and create more consistent performances.(Check out the earlier section, “Analyzing a Script: The Five W's and How” for what to do when reviewing a script.)


·        Your voice’s health: Yelling,screaming, crying, vomiting, and sickness (think cold and flu) can also change how you sound. If you’re sick or you overuse your voice, you can give your voice a different quality that may or may not prevent you from creating the sounds you’re accustomed to.


·        How you treat your voice: How you take care of your voice is also important. You may have noticed how certain foods,drinks, or substances can change the quality of your voice. Some people find that caffeinated beverages or alcohol dries their vocal folds. Others claim that dairy products produce more mucous and consequently make them sound phlegmy. Being near smoke of any kind can also dry out and impact the quality of your voice.

 To counteract these vocal hazards, you can drink lots of water to hydrate your voice. You can also avoid yelling or screaming and resist anything that negatively affects how your voice sounds.

Knowing how your instrument works is important. Are you ready to learn more about voice acting? To discover more about this exciting field and the book, visit

About The Authors

Stephanie Ciccarelli and David Ciccarelli are the founders of, the largest global web hub for voice actors. Over the past 9 years Stephanie, David, and their team have grown from the ground up to become the leader in the industry.This article was originally published in Voice Acting For Dummies and has been republished with permission from John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Gary Terzza runs a voice over training course in London, England.

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