What does Succession teach us about voices? Goodness me, am I losing the plot! Why am I featuring the multi-award winning TV drama, when discussing voices? Simple: there are many examples of key characters modifying their voices when speaking to other characters or in specific dramatic situations.
For anyone who isn’t aware of this TV drama, Succession is a multi-award winning drama – although there is a clear comedy element. It features the UBER rich Media owning family who have a different experience of life than most people! As per the title, there is a Succession battle between the founder Logan Roy and his three children from his second marriage. Spoiler alert, although I am not spoiling the drama, there will be references to the drama. If you are not up to date, you might not wish to read the article! You have been warned.
During the drama, there are many interactions with different characters and situations. The actors who of course are world class. They subtly modify their voices in different situations. And I should mention that this is what happens to our voices: we modify them in different conversations; with different people and specific situations. Here are some examples of 3 actors doing this.
Tom, played by Matthew Macfadyen modifies his voice when speaking to his (soon to be ex-wife Shiv). Whether this is because he is actually terrified of her, or still has feelings for her. When he speaks to Logan, there is always an element of awe towards his boss. And later on he is saying with a ‘doffing the cap’ tone “I’m here to serve” to anyone who will listen to him. Mmmmm
Shiv, played by Sarah Snook generally uses an assertive voice in whatever situation 😉 Even when Tom her husband is being lovey dovey to her, she does not match his vocal tone. However, **Spoiler Alert** when she speaks to her father on the phone as he is dying, the pitch of her voices goes up by over an octave. Not only is the tone someone who is afraid, but also it has the tone of a child. Is she reminding him she’s his little girl? Is she showing she’s terrified?
Kendall played by Jeremy Strong has been depressed; he has an Eyore type of voice. Yet **Spoiler Alert** when his father dies, his tone alters; especially when he takes charge of what the siblings’ response should be. But his tone completely changes to menacing and manipulative when telling Hugo Baker, whose daughter has benefitted from buying shares before Kendall’s father’s death is announced, to create a smear campaign. Kendall’s delivery is matched by a different facial expression too.
So why should we be concerned about vocal tone?
It is not exclusively WHAT we say but how we say it. And this includes vocal tone as well as our non-verbal communication. There are many occasions when our voice alters: in different situations; when we are speaking to different people.
- When we are tired
- If we are ill
- As we get older
- when we are frightened
- when we are speaking to different people
For example, when we speak to a child or baby we soften the voice. If we are tired or ill the tone of our voice will alter. If we are stressed unless we consciously maintain a calm voice, it will alter. Other people pick up on these subconsciously. They might pick up that the tone of your voice does not match. They will be confused and question your trustworthiness and credibility.
In all conversations our aim is for our non-verbal communication and vocal tone to match what we are saying. This is a Key Skill area of the SuperStar Communicator™ methodology. Voice is one of the 5 key skill areas. We recognise that the tone of our voices is a key element in spoken communication. We work with clients on their voices as part of our services. This is either as part of our programmes, or specifically on vocal training. One of our services is our One hour session in the studio where we work with clients one to one in a mirrored studio. This is an opportunity to focus on the voice; how you produce a great voice; vary the vocal tone and being consciously aware of the variety of vocal colours available.