Re: Need tips on creating voices, & Practice regimen Posted by mrbumblepants on Jan 22, 2015
Posted by: Andrew on Dec 19, 2014
On the subject of accents, I don't have a wide vocal range myself, but if you are going to learn to accents I think it's really helpful to learn to do them authentically. Chris mentioned above that people sometimes become offended by accents and I believe that's partially because the person doing the accent often butchers it and has little proper understanding of it. They're doing a caricature rather than a character and haven't taken the time to know or understand the difference.
For example, there isn't really such a thing as a standard English accent. When we talk about an English accent what we're usually referring to is received pronunciation, which is a non-regional British accent that's derived from London English that most of us know from movies and television. There are hundreds of accents and dialects in Britain like Cockney, Midlands, Southwest, Geordie, Welsh, Scottish, etc. Most people outside the UK have trouble distinguishing between these or don't even know that they exist because we don't encounter them on a regular basis.
I have learned a bit of Welsh, and talked/listened to some Welsh people occasionally. Sometime after starting my learning, I came across a video explaining how to do a Welsh accent. It wasn't useful at all, but was instead one person's interpretation of what they were noticing most about the accent - which I think is kind of interesting by itself, but not a good way to learn an acting skill.
German is another example. My father used to tell me about moving from Canada to Germany in the 1960s and being teased by Germans because he spoke High German (sometimes called Standard German), which is a very formal German dialect that is taught in schools and heard on television. Most Germans speak some form of Low German in their day-to-day life, so talking to my father on the street was a bit like meeting a person in New York who speaks in Shakespearean English. Another example is that supposedly when Star Trek was first brought to Germany no one watched it because someone - probably with a poor understanding of German - had it dubbed in High German. Eventually it became really popular after it was redubbed in Low German to make it more accessible and relatable to a German audience.
That's fantastic, very funny. I've heard a little of High German before. It was surprising how far it was from the stereotypical German accent (Which basically just seems to involve shouting everything.) For me when I try to do a German accent, I'm told that I sound like I'm from the part near France. I'm glad to have a sense of what regional variation I might be able to pass for.
I think it's one of those things where, if you know what's going on, you have more choices in deciding when not to do something. But since we can't all get to know real folks with the accents we want to imitate, sometimes it's okay to just go with our best guesses - or to abstain entirely. I wouldn't want to try and do a Jamaican accent, for instance, because I am aware that most of the versions I've heard have been really horrible and fake. Same for an Irish accent.
While I don't personally believe that an accent has to be authentic when you do a character, I do believe its authenticity should be a deliberate choice, rather than being done in ignorance just because a performer doesn't know any better.
This is one of my favourite YouTube videos about dialects:Cool, I will try and watch that later tonight. Thanks!
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