55 Words to Describe Someone’s Voice

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Voice actors are always looking for accurate descriptors to describe their voices. “J” from Writing Help on Tumblr, gathered this list for describing a voice.

  • adenoidal (adj): if someone’s voice is adenoidal, some of the sound seems to come through their nose
  • appealing (adj): an appealing look/voice shows that you want help, approval, or agreement
  • breathy (adj): with loud breathing noises
  • brittle (adj): if you speak in a brittle voice, you sound as if you are about to cry
  • croaky (adj): if someone’s voice sounds croaky, they speak in a low, rough voice that sounds as if they have a sore throat
  • dead (adj): if someone’s eyes or voice are dead, they feel or show no emotion
  • disembodied (adj): a disembodied voice comes from someone who you cannot see
  • flat (adj): spoken in a voice that does not go up and down; this word is often used for describing the speech of people from a particular region
  • fruity (adj): a fruity voice or laugh is deep and strong in a pleasant way
  • grating (adj): a grating voice, laugh, or sound is unpleasant and annoying
  • gravelly (adj): a gravelly voice sounds low and rough
  • gruff (adj): this voice has a rough, low sound
  • guttural (adj): a guttural sound is deep and made at the back of your throat
  • high-pitched (adj): true to its name, a high-pitched voice or sound is very high
  • hoarse (adj): someone who is hoarse, or has a hoarse voice, speaks in a low, rough voice, usually because their throat is sore
  • honeyed (adj): honeyed words or a honeyed voice sound very nice, but you cannot trust the person who is speaking
  • husky (adj): a husky voice is deep and sounds hoarse (as if you have a sore throat), often in an attractive way
  • low (adj): a low voice is quiet and difficult to hear; also used for describing a deep voice that has a long wavelength
  • matter-of-fact (adj): usually used if the person speaking knows what they are talking about (or absolutely think they know what they are talking about)
  • modulated (adj): a modulated voice is controlled and pleasant to listen to
  • monotonous (adj): this kind of voice is boring and unpleasant due to the fact that it does not change in loudness or become higher/lower
  • nasal (adj): someone with a nasal voice sounds as if they are speaking through their nose
  • orotund (adj): an orotund voice is loud and clear
  • penetrating (adj): a penetrating voice is so high or loud that it makes you slightly uncomfortable
  • plummy (adj): a plummy voice or way of speaking is considered to be typical of an English person of a high social class; this word shows that you dislike people who speak like this
  • quietly (adj): in a soft, quiet voice
  • raucous (adj): a raucous voice or noise is loud and sounds rough
  • ringing (adj): a ringing voice is very loud and clear
  • rough (adj): a rough voice is not soft and is unpleasant to listen to
  • shrill (adj): a shrill voice is very loud, high, and unpleasant
  • silvery (adj): this voice is clear, light, and pleasant
  • singsong (adj): if you speak in a singsong voice, your voice rises and falls in a musical way
  • small (adj): a small voice is quiet
  • smoky (adj): a smoky voice is sexually attractive in a slightly mysterious way
  • softly spoken (adj): someone who is softly spoken has a quiet, gentle voice
  • soft-spoken (adj): speaking or said in a quiet, gentle voice
  • sotto voce (adj, adv): in a very quiet voice
  • stentorian (adj): a stentorian voice sounds very loud and severe
  • strangled (adj): a strangled sound is one that someone stops before they finish making it
  • strident (adj): this voice is loud and unpleasant
  • taut (adj): used about something such as a voice that shows someone is nervous or angry
  • thick (adj): if your voice is thick with an emotion, it sounds less clear than usual because of the emotion
  • thickly (adv): with a low voice that comes mostly from your throat
  • thin (adj): a thin voice or sound is high and unpleasant to listen to
  • throaty (adj): a throaty sound is low and seems to come from deep in your throat
  • tight (adj): shows that you are nervous or annoyed
  • toneless (adj): does not express any emotion
  • tremulous (adj): if your voice is tremulous, it is not steady; for example, because you are afraid or excited
  • wheezy (adj): a wheezy noise sounds as if it is made by someone who has difficulty breathing
  • wobbly (adj): if your voice is wobbly, it goes up and down, usually because you are frightened, not confident, or are going to cry
  • booming (adj): very loud and attention-getting
  • quavering (adv): if your voice quavers, it is not steady because you are feeling nervous or afraid
  • a voice like a foghorn: very loud voice
  • in an undertone: using a quiet voice so that someone cannot hear you
  • someone’s dulcet tones: the sound of someone’s voice as they speak

Good Advice From Edge Studio

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The election is over, long live the election!

November 14, 2014

If you live in a non-swing state or a “safe” political district, you might not have heard nearly as many political commercials as some Americans do. On radio, TV and the Internet, political ads run millions of times each year. In fact there are so many ads, and so much money behind them, that political strategists sometimes worry that there will not be enough airtime available.

You should have such worries, right?

The trend in bigtime spending began in 2004, and accelerated as even more money flooded into the political arena after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010.

Who’s spending it? That’s not always known. But as you probably do know, political advertising began changing decades ago. Even advertising for local public positions has become pretty sophisticated. While radio and TV commercials still might be written and produced by the candidate’s own local campaign (for better or worse), local ads are also coordinated and even researched by national campaigns and consultants. Those campaigns are often very sophisticated, at least in their planning and testing.

They’re ready to change course on a moment’s notice. Which means talent must be ready, too.

Some voice actors say they would never do political spots. Others say yes, but only for candidates and causes they agree with. Yet others, including some major players in the genre, say (as Scott Sanders told NPR in 2006), “We’re hired guns. This is a job like anything else.” Often it’s the client who decides.

The producer of a political spot is unlikely to ask outright about how you’ve voted, but they are likely to want to know what positions you’ve voiced in the past. If you’ve been identified with one party or issue, the other side may not want you. You may have to agree beforehand not to work in the future for the opposition.

Interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter, voice over artist Pat Duke said his agent told him, “nobody can be switch-hitting anymore.” Although prolific political voice artists can be found who have voiced for both liberal and conservative candidates (or it might be more accurate to say “against” them) and various causes, generally those who do both Democratic and Republican ads keep that bit of information to themselves.

However, talent agencies that serve political advertisers do have an array of talent to serve all sorts of clients.

The playing field includes political radio ads, TV ads, online ads and campaign videos and films. And it calls for almost every type of voice: narrator, real-person on the street, slice-of-life actor, cartoon character, in tones that are friendly, worried, unbelieving, attacking, subtly influential, reasonable, voice of doom, junkyard dog — the whole range of people and feelings. Can you sound frustrated, vulnerable, betrayed, hopeful, proud, angry, or confused? Name the emotion, and there’s surely a political ad that employs it.

If the genre appeals to you, it will help to have the following qualities:

  • Ability to work fast. As we said, a spot usually needs to get on the air quickly. You may have only 15 minutes’ notice, and have to deliver the read in an hour. You might also spend a lot of time just waiting, ready to record, as the next ad is written. In some cases, you may need to record at home, in the car, in a hotel room, wherever you happen to be.
  • Sound like a real person. At least, if you’re portraying a real person, as opposed to a narrator. A fake “vox populi” (voice of the people) is hardly convincing.
  • For national ads and videos, a Midwestern accent is usually desired, for its geographic neutrality. In a local spot, a local accent might even be preferable, but only if it sounds genuine, and even then it can be problematic when revising the ad for other locales.
  • If you’re really and truly from the candidate’s district, that might be a special factor in your favor. Like stock photos, “imported” actors are sometimes exposed, turning out to be counterproductive.
  • Stamina. Candidates aren’t the only ones who talk themselves hoarse. Voice over artists who focus on this genre in election cycles can become almost speechless by Election Day.

It can be worth it. At $100,000 per election cycle, some major political voices make more than many candidates. But most of the work goes to union artists. In 2012, according to Hollywood Reporter, the SAG-AFTRA scale rate for voiceover work was $445 per television ad, $263 for radio and $592 for Internet.” The pay scale is higher if it’s a long run in a major market.

Talent is usually paid by the spot. When a spot runs in many states, districts or towns, and only a small change is required from market to market, it can mean additional income for little extra work. The Wall Street Journal in 2012 reported that Web ads for mayoral races in small cities are among the lowest paid, but “Presidential spots that run on national television are the best-paid, and can earn a voice-over actor about $3,000 to $4,000.”

So, if you’ve been poo-pooing the political marketplace, one word of advice: Don’t be so negative.

Is a Career in Voice Over for you?

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I get asked this a lot: How do I get into voice work?

To be a voice actor that is working, you’ve got to be an actor. You’ve got to take apart copy in less than 30 seconds, and self-direct, usually within minutes. Other times, you’ve got to take the direction of others – occasionally from more than three individuals at the same time. You’ve got to understand something about teen, child, and adult psychology. You’ve got to comprehend and control sound technology. You should have the capacity to brand/market yourself. You should be your own company manager. You should continuously take workshops and courses to enhance your skill to do all the above, so you should not leave your day job while you are learning. There is no state licensing or college degree for voice acting. A college counselor can help you put your own program together.

For those who are in possession of a fantastic voice or have a particular gift for character voices, then you need to consider bringing your own skills to the tens of thousands of occupations. Your employment chances aren’t only limited to supplying character voices for animated films and TV series. It’s possible for you to make your living through working through non-program shows for private corporations, narrations, or for commercial jobs like ads or telephone companies. Yet as with absolutely any pursuit in the entertainment industry, it requires more than an excellent gift!

You need to approach your voice over career with exactly the same heart an actor uses for his profession, although you can just leap right in and begin auditioning. So, if you own a talent as well as a fire for voice overs…now you must turn that raw gift into a tasteful professional tool. In order to do this you’re going to want training. Clearly this form of polish may come with the on the job expertise that you just get through working, but it will take a good deal more. Give yourself a head start and take some courses or receive private training. Your teacher can help train you up to a degree at which you’ll be prepared to record your demo.

Record a professional demo –  a demonstration of your voice over capabilities. A demo is essential in helping a casting director or producer determine whether they would like to utilize your ability as a voice over artist. Even in the event you’re supremely gifted, it’s worth saving up the cash and resources to record your demo correctly; a poor demo will seriously inhibit the quantity of work you are going to get. Get your teacher or mentor to assist you in finding what recording studio you want to visit and consistently do your research. Your demo ought to reveal your complete range and should seem professional.

As soon as your demo is recorded, you can begin your self-promotion and send it out to casting representatives and directors.

Having an agent means that you’ll have a lot more auditions and voice over jobs accessible to you, but you actually ought to remember that you’re equally as accountable for getting yourself work as your representative is. That means sending your demo to casting directors and later following up with them.

If you still want to do voice over work, read Peter O’Connell’s Voice over Entrance Exam. You’ll find it here:
http://www.audioconnell.com/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=thevoiceoverentranceexam&category=workshop

Double Divas 2 Toronto

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Double Diva’s East Meets West VO Adventure Workshop is one of the best steps I could take on my voiceover journey. Do not pass up the opportunity to work with Debbie Munro and Elley-Ray Hennessey.  These two Canadian voiceover powerhouses will keep you on your toes the entire weekend and pull out of you talents you never thought you had.  They generously shared information on marketing, branding, agents, unions, vocal exercises, monologue and dialogue work, narration and advanced character techniques, and many other tricks of the trade. The atmosphere was comfortable and relaxed and everyone felt free to play. Their critiques were spot on. Deb and Elley-Ray also invited a panel of experts from various aspects of our business. All-in-all, not a moment wasted. Seriously! West Coast or East Coast – catch these ladies in action. You won’t regret it.

Trish’s Twitter Training!

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OMG! Trish Basanyi is an amazing teacher. I can recognize one when I see one – I taught for 27+ years. Thanks to John Florian and VoiceOverXtra for hosting Voice Over Super Socials, Trish taught us all we needed to know about using Twitter effectively – and then some. Today, I listened to her webinar again, took notes, and I’ve been twittering like crazy ever since. If she decides to offer this course again, don’t miss it.

Catch Dave Courvoisier presenting LinkedIn, Voice Over Universe, Google+, and YouTube on August 24th. Go to VoiceOverXtra to sign up.

My Year-long Adventure

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I’ve missed you, dear reader. I’ve been away almost one year. Busy moving into a new home in a new city and selling our previous home. In the interim, I’ve dealt with open houses, construction, landscaping, heating and cooling, telephone, internet, satellite, sprinkler systems, generators, tool sheds, bike paths, getting familiar with my new studio set-up (thank you, Dan Lenard), awnings and patios, gas lines, finding my way around my new city, Buffalo, enjoying my new neighbors, making new friends, finding new doctors, decorating, family events, new clients, old clients – it’s been quite a year. Finally feeling settled in and loving it.

And ready to share with all of you.

Right now, I’m looking forward to spending some time with Mom and Dad and my brother Mike, celebrating my 24th wedding anniversary; then learning all I can at Double Divas in Toronto, and Faffcon 3 in Hershey before the High Holidays begin. Life is good and very busy.

I’m Back!

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Joey came home one day last June and said, “I’ve had enough, Honey. Start looking.” He’d had enough of driving back and forth from Rochester to Buffalo and back again every day for work. He wanted me to start house hunting. While house hunting on-line and with a Buffalo realtor, I began the process of downsizing our existing home: closets, drawers, cabinets, the basement, the toolshed. It’s amazing how much stuff two people can collect in just 10 years. Most of the stuff I donated, or packed, the rest trashed. Now I began driving to and from Buffalo in an effort to find our new home. Three months later, we found it in Clarence Center. Back and forth offers, an agreement, and the paperwork began. Mounds of paperwork. What a difference in regulations and wasted paper from this transaction compared to my first two homes. Real Estate is now a nightmare.

The Sneeze Audition is Back!

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I got a call Tuesday from a “NYC Casting Agent.” His “name” was Tom Walsh. He said he found my website, listened to my voice, and thought I was perfect for the new allergy product commercial his client wanted made. The only thing –  he had to make sure I could sneeze on cue! He asked me what my sneeze sounded like and then told me to sniff a pinch of black pepper and then a sniff of cayenne!! But his phone number came up “Blocked” on my iPhone, and he wouldn’t answer me when I asked him the name of his agency.

I played along (hoping some bit of information would help me identify him) for as long as I could;  but the sleazy scammer eventually tired of his game. He said he would call back in a couple of days. Of course, he did no such thing.

I shared with Debbie Munro (who was coaching me at the time) what had happened. She told me scams will occasionally hit our business like any other. Voice actors are eager to please and there’s the unusual request from a client now and then, but we need to be vigilant.  She said to check with Bobbin Beam, who had written an article about this kind of thing.

I googled “sneeze audition scam,” and Bobbin Beam’s excellent article for VoiceOverXtra popped up. Please click http://www.voiceoverxtra.com/article.htm?id=3gkovc8l to read it. It’s an eye-opener.

What a shame that this guy has nothing better to do with his life than call busy professionals with phony scams. Poor thing. I guess he hasn’t thought about taking the time he wastes on his scams and using that time to help others.

A Special Colleague

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Male Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell and Female Voice Talent Leslie Diamond

I had the most amazing evening. I attended the 7th Annual RAF Freelance Creative Expo at the Museum of Art in Rochester, NY. This was my first time in attendance; I wasn’t sure what to expect. I slowly made my way around the room, meeting each exhibitor, learning about their craft, exchanging business conversation and cards, when – surprise! Peter K. O’Connell of audio’connell Voice Over Talent had a wonderful table display of all things audio’connell. I was thrilled to see Peter in my “backyard” – he is one of Western New York’s super voice talents. After exchanging an “It’s great to see you!” hug, Peter invited me to share his exhibit and talk voice acting with fellow attendees. Peter is a consummate professional and a genuine people person. He took the time to learn something about each person he met, and then shared how professional voice acting could make their work even better. He introduced me to everyone who stopped at the table and shared each conversation. What fun! Peter radiates the kind of fundamental decency and generosity that has a name in Yiddish – he’s a mensch. Thank you, Peter.