Arts & Entertainment

Vocal Techniques

Nancy Cartwright

Lesson time 15:39 min

Nancy demonstrates vocal techniques to adapt and change the sound of your voice. She also talks about how she developed the voice for Bart Simpson.

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Topics include: The Difference Between Acting and Voice Acting · Demo: Nancy's Vocal Tool Kit · Developing the Voice of Bart Simpson


[MUSIC PLAYING] NANCY CARTWRIGHT: Voice acting is magical, because it starts to me with the word animate. And animate means to bring life to. It means to inject life. You take on and you do a character, you create it. We are giving life to an inanimate object. Voice acting has to do with using all this, all the mechanics you got, like, in this area. From your neck on up, including your ears. It has to do with your larynx and your pharynx, your vocal cords, the nasal cavity, the cheeks, the teeth, the jaw line. All this has to do with making sound. It has to do with pinching your nose shut to make sound effects. There's a whole livelihood in this. You can-- lots of people have found success in doing voiceover work for films, for television, for audiobooks, narrating, doing character work, which is super fun. I think it's really important to make clear the difference between working in front of the camera as an on camera actor and working behind the camera as a voiceover actor. There are similarities in that you are developing a character. That's the most important thing is that you've made a character out of whole cloth, meaning it's substantial. You can back it up. There's no wavering. You're not confused about who you're playing. It's like it's 100% committed to that character. That would be the same behind the camera as it would be in front of the camera. But the main difference is that with voiceover work, all you have is your voice. Another thing that individuates voice acting from on camera acting is there's lots of room for improvisation. Studying whatever you can, whether it's singing or improv classes, all that can do nothing but help you. Your imagination is everything. So when you go in and do an audition or when you get the job, you just continue to create on this character. And this really comes in handy when you're doing take number four and the director has just said, you know what? Let's just do another one. I think we got what we want, but let's just try another one. This time just let it loose. Just do it, just fly with it. And that's when, to me, that ends up being the take that they like, because there's a lot of freedom in that kind of expression. So there are a lot of tools that one can use in order to make characters come to life. You've got pacing, you've got timing, you've got pitch, you've got attitude, you've got intention. What's the purpose of your character, the relationship that your character has with the other characters that are in the script? So real Nancy is going to show you what that looks like, since my mouth is just a pink line around a black hole. Go for it. Thanks. And I love your hair, by the way. I can never get that volume. Seriously. Let me give you guys a little demonstration of what I'm talking about here. For example, I'm just going to do a random character. This is just a little character that I can use as our example. So this is Chip. This is Chip, because ...

About the Instructor

For nearly 40 years, Nancy Cartwright has voiced some of the most iconic animated characters on screen, including everyone’s favorite 10-year-old underachiever. Now the Emmy winner takes you into the recording booth to teach you the art of voice acting. In our first class to feature original animation, you’ll learn how to develop characters, get performance tips, and hear Nancy’s career advice. It’s time to get animated.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Nancy Cartwright

The legendary voice actor reveals her creative process for giving life to animated characters with emotion, imagination, and humor.

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