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Learning Ventriloquism - A Guide For Beginners
By Martha Curry
When you are learning ventriloquism, the illusion produced is the result, primarily, of an acoustic phenomenon-the uncertainty of the sound's direction; and, secondarily, of a habit acquired of speaking without moving the facial muscles.
As to the exact spot whence the sound proceeds, the ventriloquist usually takes care to show that by an expressive motion and by looking in that direction, or designating it with his finger while his face expresses fear, interest or surprise. The spectator then easily persuades himself that the sound does really come from the exact spot thus pointed out to him in a seemingly unintentional manner.
In order to produce a muffled sound that seems to come from afar or from an enclosed place, the ventriloquist arranges his tongue in such a way that its base, upon bearing against the soft palate, shall form a sort of diaphragm that allows but very little of the voice to pass. If, then, the ventriloquist articulates his words with a strong guttural voice, the sound will seem to come from the earth, from a grotto or cavern, or from a box, cask or closet.
I know of no better way to attain the proper position of the vocal organs than by the ventriloquial drone practice recommended by Robert Ganthony.
To acquire the ability to make this drone, take a deep breath and, while holding it, make a retching sound at the back of the throat as if (to put it delicately) trying to be sick. As you do this utter a prolonged "Ah," exhaling slowly.
At first the "ah" will very likely be little more than a grunt, but by trying again and prolonging the sound as you make a greater effort, the exclamation will begin to sound like an uncertain drone, finally settling down to a clear, sustained hum like that of a distant bee drone, from which it derives its name.
The farther back in the throat the sound is made the more distant will it appear to the listener, and the more forward in the throat the nearer will it seem.
When you are learning ventriloquism, you may not get the drone at once, but a little practice will enable you to do so. When once you hear that clear, distant-sounding drone you may know that you have your mouth as it should be for ventriloquism, but until you do produce that you must hark back because, unless this foundation is laid properly, all that follows is unsatisfactory and your ventriloquism will lack that distant quality, to obtain which is to be a ventriloquist.
Practice on the bee drone enables you to sustain the vocal cords in position and familiarize them with their novel and unnatural duties. When once the drone is obtained with "ah," all the other vowels should be droned, until they become equally easy to produce and sustain.
The acquirement of the drone is the acquirement of all distant sound, but it is well to begin first with the droning of a bee, which is a continued sound only altering as the insect approaches or recedes, and is produced by prolonging the " ah " as long as you possibly can. In making the bee apparently approach from a distance, the increase in the sound must be made gradually, in fact, at the rate a bee progresses.
If you can make the sound of a dog barking near at hand you have only to assume the "drone" position to make it appear outside, and the same is true of the imitation of a cock crowing.
The next step is to obtain a sudden transition from the drone to the natural voice. Commence by saying "Ah" in the natural voice and follow with the ventriloquial "Ah," not as a prolonged drone, but staccato fashion, and practice this with all the vowels.
When you are learning ventriloquism, will be enabled to give with ease a conversation with some one apparently outside a window, where you speak in your natural voice and the reply is made in the distant voice. The change from one voice to the other must be rapidly and constantly made, and the required facility is obtained by the practice described above.
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