Skiing the Slopes of Vocal Pitch

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on January 4, 2012

As we begin 2012, snow is on the way or has already arrived in many parts of the country.  Snow means ski season, and that’s a great reminder for me to think about vocal pitch.  I say that because I often use the analogy of a ski slope to discuss pitch.  Let me explain.

Many people have a tendency to begin voicing higher in pitch than they should. This could be at the beginning of a read, top of a story, or coming out of a sound bite.  I call this the “ski slope initiation.”  Instead of beginning in their normal pitch, it’s like they start at the top of the hill and ski down.  Now when they ski down, the problem is they never get to their normal pitch.  They get stuck halfway down.  The whole recording ends up being slightly higher than it should be in pitch.

How can you fix this problem?  Think of climbing up a hill instead of skiing down a slope.  Begin with your pitch slightly down and come up to your normal pitch.  This usually puts you in a good place to use your normal pitch throughout whatever you’re recording.  You don’t get stuck slightly above your normal pitch.

Want to find your optimum or best pitch?  Check out this blog post from a few months ago.

Do you have trouble identifying whether you’re going up or down in pitch?  I did for a while.  I used counting to help me identify pitch changes.  Count to three and make each number slightly higher than the last.  When you get to the highest at three, say three again at that pitch and count down to one in pitch.  You can imagine that you’re first climbing up a hill with your voice and then skiing down.

Happy Skiing and Happy 2012!!

Want to learn more about voice this year?  Ck out my book, BROADCAST VOICE HANDBOOK or my mp3’s.

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