PDA

View Full Version : Male Voices



phantasy
05-13-2014, 04:47 PM
I'm having trouble pinpointing the description of the voice of a character I'm writing. It's a fairly common sort of male voice nowadays, I think. Perhaps even modern and youthful? Not sure.

How would you say Joseph Gordon-Levitt sounds?
How about John Krasinski?
Or anyone else in that range?


Thanks.

alleycat
05-13-2014, 04:54 PM
For Gordon-Levitt I might say "generic suburban Los Angeles" or "modern middle-class yuppie" but I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for.

BDSEmpire
05-13-2014, 05:31 PM
Are you trying to describe the pitch of his voice? Tenor, baritone and bass are the usual terms for male voices.

Siri Kirpal
05-13-2014, 08:36 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

A tenor has a high pitched, but masculine sounding voice. A bass has a very low pitched voice. A baritone (which is what most men are) has a medium low pitched voice. A treble is a boy whose voice hasn't changed. Falsetto is what men use when they're mimicking women. A countertenor is a man whose voice has the same pitch range as a female alto, so although he may be otherwise masculine, he'll sound like a woman.

Hope that helps.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal, who has no idea what the guys you mentioned sound like

phantasy
05-13-2014, 11:02 PM
For Gordon-Levitt I might say "generic suburban Los Angeles" or "modern middle-class yuppie" but I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for.

Lol, no not like that. More like the tone of it. I mean it sounds manly but there's still this boyish quality to it. Can't seem to place it.

phantasy
05-13-2014, 11:03 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

A tenor has a high pitched, but masculine sounding voice. A bass has a very low pitched voice. A baritone (which is what most men are) has a medium low pitched voice. A treble is a boy whose voice hasn't changed. Falsetto is what men use when they're mimicking women. A countertenor is a man whose voice has the same pitch range as a female alto, so although he may be otherwise masculine, he'll sound like a woman.

Hope that helps.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal, who has no idea what the guys you mentioned sound like

Thanks. But I'm still not sure. Baritone seems too strong and manly for the guys I asked about. Or am I just over thinking this?

mirandashell
05-13-2014, 11:05 PM
I would say tenor for those examples.

King Neptune
05-13-2014, 11:06 PM
Lol, no not like that. More like the tone of it. I mean it sounds manly but there's still this boyish quality to it. Can't seem to place it.

I think you may mean "timbre", which is not easy to define, because two voices could have the same pitch but different timbres.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timbre

ironmikezero
05-13-2014, 11:54 PM
Just a thought... If you don't need to get too technical, you might try simple metaphors, similes, or descriptive verbs that convey a quality of sound as perceived by another character in a specific scene...

...His whispered denial, as breathless as a resigned sigh, was an unintended admission that grated upon her heart. Still, she did not want to believe - how could he do this to her? She couldn't read him; he never raised his voice or let anger spark his words. That she had come to expect, and even find comfort in his confident and even tone - but not now. She needed more at this moment than his recalcitrant reserve and perpetual monotone - where the hell were his emotions, damn it?

WeaselFire
05-14-2014, 04:30 AM
I'm having trouble pinpointing the description of the voice of a character I'm writing.
Can I step back and ask why it matters? If it's a part of the plot, as in identifying a voice, give it something distinct and pretty unique. He rolls his R's or has a lisp that only comes out when he's tired. That sort of thing.

If it's not part of the plot, why would the reader need to know? Or care?

Jeff

phantasy
05-14-2014, 05:38 AM
Can I step back and ask why it matters? If it's a part of the plot, as in identifying a voice, give it something distinct and pretty unique. He rolls his R's or has a lisp that only comes out when he's tired. That sort of thing.

If it's not part of the plot, why would the reader need to know? Or care?

Jeff

Because he's not human. He won't have all the facial cues and for me the voice would be the best way to carry across the type of creature he is. I just don't want to say 'baritone' and have the reader think 'big, beefy guy voice'. More subtle and more youthful. But I worry if I say youthful, they'll think of a teenager's voice. That's why I used those two examples, best voices that somewhat incapsulate my idea of his voice.

Smeasking
05-14-2014, 05:50 AM
So... he has a subtle, youthful voice; a tone with underlying deepness which suggests an age beyond his appearance?

benbenberi
05-14-2014, 06:23 AM
I would suggest that it is impossible to describe a voice in words in such a way that a majority (or even a significant %) of readers will "hear" it the way you hear it. You may be able to use a lot of words and convey to some readers what you want, but you'll have to work hard and it still won't work for most readers. Sound quality, and the specific timbre of specific voices in particular, is one of those things that just doesn't translate well to prose.

Even if there's something special and unique and story-significant about his voice, you're better off not fixating on trying to convey the specific sound of it, but to focus on how other characters react, or the way he uses it.

(For the record, I've seen/heard things with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and John Krasinski but I can't recall a thing about their voices beyond generically young male American, and no description you could possibly write is likely to put a sound in my mind's ear remotely like what you want me to hear. )

Siri Kirpal
05-14-2014, 06:36 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Then make it tenor. Or more likely "as close to a tenor as someone of his species gets."

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

snafu1056
05-14-2014, 06:56 AM
You could always go against type and make a point that his voice DOESN'T match his physical appearance. As in "a suprisingly melodious voice" or "a deceptively childlike voice."

blacbird
05-14-2014, 06:59 AM
I'm having trouble pinpointing the description of the voice of a character I'm writing. It's a fairly common sort of male voice nowadays, I think. Perhaps even modern and youthful? Not sure.

How would you say Joseph Gordon-Levitt sounds?
How about John Krasinski?
Or anyone else in that range?



I'm unfamiliar with both these people. Which immediately illustrates one of the problems with invoking trendy pop-culture references.

"Male voices" range in tone from Avery Brooks (actor/narrator) to Avery Johnson (baskeball player/coach/commentator), whose voices are about as alike as an avocado and an apricot.

Don't overdescribe. Readers don't need it.

caw

phantasy
05-14-2014, 07:48 AM
Even if there's something special and unique and story-significant about his voice, you're better off not fixating on trying to convey the specific sound of it, but to focus on how other characters react, or the way he uses it.


Yeah, this is probably the best way to go. I was just making sure I wasn't missing something or that someone knew a simple way to say it.

Thanks for the advice all!

Reziac
05-14-2014, 09:48 PM
You can hint at voice by word choice and how it leads to different pacing, too. At least to my reading ear, more rapid-paced dialog with shorter sharper words sounds 'higher pitched' (toward tenor) while slower-paced dialog with longer, more sonorous words sounds 'lower-pitched' (toward bass).