Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chinese voices

Some fun with recording.

Two different ways I have been playing with sound.

Searching for a voice

Computer crash this weekend has made this post somewhat harder than it should be, I am going to be doing much more output in the future, even in the area that I hate (recording), I have had hangups with telephones even with English, I have used Skype for Chinese (but each time a bag of nerves beforehand) and a microphone always reduces me to a self-conscious wreck. I have very little nerves talking face to face though.
I need get over this, perhaps I will have to take a test where I record my voice or participate in a telephone interview. So increasingly I will record voice files both off the cuff and as part of other exercises. I am not happy with my recorded voice at all, this latest example is particularly slushy and inaccurate but I gave myself one shot to say what I wanted to say (that will force me to get better in real-time). I have fixed on using Audioboo for now as they offer a quick convenient way to record and upload short sound files from an Ipod Touch.
This example is simply about my Chinese voice (I haven't found one yet), obviously I don't want to talk like a girl or a tough guy from and old movie. I summarised it down (a little hurriedly to fit a Twitter post as follows. One reply already points out that rather than referencing movie voices from old films I would be better off looking to TV and new films (true but I still don't know who would be appropriate to copy).

Zombie School

I am always running crazy scenarios in my head, I had one provoked by a Chinese lesson at Popup Chinese, they have some crazy lesson content, but solid Chinese that helps to remember things and some good examples of Northern dialect and pronunciation. The lesson provoked an imaginary movie advert in my head, when I wanted to play with some new Ipod Touch software I decided to pull the advert out into the real world. Over 20 years ago it took a hardware sampler and couple of computers to do this kind of thing now you can do it with an Ipod touch and £8.99 0f software. This is just a bit of fun, the strange beat is to match the syncopated but fast movement of the zombies, and it only really works with headphones or good speakers (the heartbeat I made by modifying a drum sample is too low and quiet for example).
All the voices are me, sampled through a standard IPod mic, just messed around a little with reverb etc. They are pretty much what I hear in my head, I am least satisfied with the news reporter. The guy that says "They are my sons friends, his fellow students" gets played twice because although I don't know how authentic that voice is I heard someone talk just like that when he was being interviewed on a Chinese news program. Yes I know it doesn't make a lot of sense without the video cut scenes that only exist in my head but I had fun.


I sound forced and self-concious, also I seem to make mistakes that I am less likely to make when talking for real (a friend confirmed this for me). I actually feel more comfortable with a microphone when trying to act a part. I will definitely continue experimenting with sound though. And pursue more recorded project similar to the fake film advert.


Chris said...

Whoops, fixed the sound files.

China said...

ooohhh sounds scary! lol. I don't understand all of it but i'm getting there! Very creative.

Cedrick said...


Keith said...

Very good! That second one is particularly intriguing.

Niel de la Rouviere said...

Excellent stuff! Great experimentation! I laughed at the naozi part in the second one. Someone must really make a zombie b-movie in Chinese. Would be excellent!

Caleb Powell said...

很棒! 我爱学中文.Good site.

Anonymous said...

Selecting Good voices is an art. Wish you all the best.

Collin Baffa said...

Great voice! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who wonders about their Chinese voice! For some reason, I jump up an octave when I speak Chinese- not good! haha

Thanks for the interesting post!