Thursday, April 3, 2014

Voiceover Wisdom from a 150 Year Old Book

Years ago I picked up an old book at a used book sale, out of curiosity, and filed it away on the book shelf. The book, Sanders' High School Reader by Charles Walton Sanders was first published in 1856. So it is long out of copyright. I often look to old books that are in the public domain for practice material and stories to record as a storyteller. This particular book has a great deal of prose and poetry and includes material from leaders and teachers of that time period. For some reason I pulled the book off the shelf early this week looking for something else and stumbled on some wonderfully helpful material for voice actors. The very first chapter of the book caught my eye and contains six sections in a total of 44 pages:
Sanders' High School Reader - Spline View Elocution
Accent and Emphasis
The Rhetorical Pause

This is the kind of stuff they don't teach in school anymore and so valuable for voice actors. I found the section of inflection to be most useful, especially for the copy mark-up symbols that I will be using in the future to help me use the correct tone when delivering copy:
Sanders' High School Reader - Title Page Horizontal Line - Monotone
/   Right Leaning Slash – Rising Inflection
\   Left Leaning Slash – Falling Inflection
The curve or open U – denotes Circumflex where the first part of the word rises and second half falls or the opposite. An example might be: “If he is going to roME than I'm going to PARis. 
There's also a section of mark-up symbols for making notes on your copy for modulation. 
 This is good stuff, not only for the mark-up symbols but especially for the voice lessons within.
Language changes over time and many of the examples used in the book might be a bit dated. But, I found these forty-four pages to be some very valuable tools for me as a voice actor. Perhaps you will too. You can download the entire book for free from Barnes and Noble as a Nook book or as an eReader/PDF from Google Play-Google Books.

Google Play Store/Google Books
Barnes and Noble also has a copy for free.

Check out Sanders' High School Reader by Charles Walton Sanders. Great material that has stood the test of time. 


  1. Great work, Jerry. I was just looking for a way to mark up my scripts electronically so I don't have to print them out when I go into my studio. This sounds like it might just be the trick.

    Thanks for the find. I'll be pondering over this "quaint, and curious volume of forgotten lore" this evening!

  2. Thanks Rob. Glad you found it useful.


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