In video production, my strengths are research and writing. I’m okay with most other jobs on a project, but not voiceover; because, though my voice is clean and clear thanks to ten weeks of voice and diction lessons, it is also flat and lifeless. Except when I sing. Voila! Voiceover and other forms of narration are voice performances, like singing.
I began listening to audio books on CD while studying Chaucer in school. I didn’t have a clue about how old English should sound, and we students had to memorize large passages from The Canterbury Tales for class and recite them to the professor for credit, so I needed help. The narrator on my Chaucer CD was a godsend, a relief from the nervous, stuttering voice in my head that made lines unintelligible.
Audio CDs were expensive then, so I didn’t buy very many. But, a few years later, I started listening to more affordable, downloadable audio books; at first to give my eyes a rest from the 200+ page per day reading requirements in graduate-level literature classes; but later, because I was fascinated by the differences between how my mind voiced characters as I read, compared to how professional narrators voiced them.
It wasn’t long before I began collecting audio books, and developing a list of favorite narrators, some with almost superhuman skills, for example, narrator Charles Keating performing Bernard Cornwell’s Agincourt.
The more I listen, the more I learn – and practice – voice performance.