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Report – The Art of Voice & Song

Posted on: Friday 05 July 2019 9:37am

This session was split into two parts. The first  was Joss Peach and Ellie Wyatt and focused on the importance of song for children.  Marc Silk ran the second part of the session and focused on the work of the voice-over artist.

Part 1:

Takeaway:

  • Music is an important part of children’s development.
  • A programmes music has a powerful emotional effect on the audience and can change the tone of a scene.
  • It is a collaboratarial process that requires flexibility and understanding from producers and composers.

Details:

Joss Peach began  by saying the session was designed to be fun and informal which was achieved thanks to audience participation at every opportunity. Together with Ellie Wyatt they explained the importance of music. Developmentally, from a young age it can affect and develop children’s language through singing as well as allowing them to build trust with their carers. It’s a tool to help children learn and grow via  entertainment and education in ways that normal speech cannot.

Music also allows emphasis, and gives young children a new level of emotional engagement. They explained that when it comes to an opening theme, the most important element is that it should be memorable. According to Ellie Wyatt “if you can’t remember the song the next day, then it’s not right”. The hook is so important as it can create a link to the programme even years after it has been watched. Although a good musical hook is vital, never underestimate the power of pure silliness as at the end of the day. A little bit of silly can go a long way! Joss Peach talks about the popularity of songs such as ‘Baby Shark’ ‘Stick’ and ‘Baby Monkey’ as evidence of this.

“Opinions on songs are subjective” and what makes a good one ultimately relies upon the collaboration between many people with many different ideas on what they may want for the finished product. One of the most important things a budding composer can learn is how to compromise and be willing to change their work as needed.

Some top tips:

  1. Don’t dumb down music for children.
  2. Composers can’t be precious about their work and must be open to criticism.
  3. Producers should feel free to give examples as part of a brief as it will give composers an idea of what they want.

The duo ended their session by taking suggestions from the audience as to a song they could write during the second half-hour. They ended up with a zebra in a swimming pool singing about kindness and water safety.

Part 2:

Takeaway:

  • Inspiration from other voice acting legends as a career-driver.
  • Nothing is more important than strong words, strong punctuation and a good voice.
  • Understanding the character is vital for building the voice up from nothing.

Details:

Marc Silk discussed who inspired him to aim for his current career and spoke about the mastery of the craft that people like Mel Blanc, June Foray, Don Messick and David Graham had. By listening and trying to imitate them. This really helped him develop his own abilities from a young age.

He explained how by starting out on radio as part of his work experience, he later became a producer and director before he got behind the microphone. This was where he discovered the importance of a good script and director. One of the best voice directions he ever received was “imagine a kitten in a blender” as it explained to him exactly the kind of voice he needed to give.  

Marc has created the voices of many characters so  building from scratch is familiar to him. E.g. Sluggy from ‘Fifi and the Flower Tots’. What makes a project is “a strong cast, a trusted director and a good sound engineer”.

By the end of the session, the audience had been taught how to give a Scooby Doo impression and Joss and Ellie’s just-composed song was performed by Marc.

 

Author: Jessica Rose Armistead

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