When I was a kid I used to Love to hear different accents in movies and TV shows.  I still do.  Especially if they were epic style like the Sean Connery James Bond movies (Sean Connery Is James Bond by the way… 😉 ). The various accents added to the mystique of the drama and when I would hang out with my friends or my parents or my parents’ friends I would affect as many different accents as I could as often as I could. As you might expect, it fell flat quite a few times… I was still just a kid, you know? I think I basically just sounded like myself trying to do an accent. *L*

But, as I got older and my voice matured I found that I was able to voice those myriad accents more believably. I was able to perform in stage shows as various characters from around the world as time went on – Boris Kolenkhov (Russian) from Moss & Hart’s hilarious play “You Can’t Take It With You”, Henry Irving (British) from Durang’s “The Actor’s Nightmare”, Riff – young gang leader of The Jets – (New York/Bronx) from “West Side Story”, and many more…

Great fun. Lots of Hard work too…

Now that I produce audio books and do voice overs I’ve found a new Life for my ability to affect all of those different accents. And, again, it’s great fun.

But, when I was still new to voice over work and I was working on my second audio book “Daily Military Quotes” I realized that my vocal talents were going to be seriously tested. “Daily Military Quotes” is a collection of 365 quotes from generals, soldiers, and heroes from ancient times to the present from All over the World – Europe, Asia, Australia, India, dialects from the US, etc… Quotes from very famous people as well – Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George Patton, Leonidas of Sparta, and so on…

Ok, so here’s the rub – I wanted to do a great job on this project which meant I would have to affect as many of these accents and famous people’s voices as I possibly could Without sounding unnatural or forced you know? I did all kinds of research and watched an innumerable number of videos of so many of these great people in order to learn their voices and their tonal qualities…

I remember doing numerous takes of all of them and being severely critical of every single performance. Again, it has to be a project that rings true, right? Not something cheesy or maudlin… I like to think that in the end I did well because of one Hard Truth – If I couldn’t believably affect the accent for the quote, I wouldn’t do it. I would simply recite it in my own voice with the emotional content intended by the original speaker. This way, the wisdom or humor or both could be preserved and not diminished by a lackluster performance of an accent.

There’s a saying in theater – “Less is more…” – and I kept it firmly in mind when I worked on “Daily Military Quotes”. As time has passed and I’ve practiced more I’ve found that my vocal range has increased, but I still keep the practical advice – “Less is more” – close at hand.

It’s been handy in portraying female characters in my books let me tell you… Obviously, I’m not female right? So, what’s the answer? Simply soften and slightly alter the pitch of my voice with or without the accent so as to stand in contrast to my male characters and allow the listener’s ear to get used to it and that’s all.

Realizing that “Less is more” can often lead to highly emotive and sensitive recitations which lend that oh-so-necessary credibility to the book’s characters…

I’ve discovered it applies to many other things in Life also… Sometimes the simplest acts or statements are the most meaningful and the most memorable.

Talk soon, friends… Be well. 🙂

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