Any One CAN LEARN TO BE A

Ventriloquist

 

Cunningly contrived puppets help the modern ventriloquist to produce the weird effects that fascinate theater audiences and private gatherings.  Far more realistic than the "assistants" of his predecessors these dummies now smile, weep, and wink at his will, to heighten the illusion of their borrowed power of speech.  Thus clever stagecraft has brought up to date the ancient art of ventriloquism-an art as mystifying to laymen, today as of ole.  In reality, there is nothing mysterious about ventriloquism, however.  IT may be mastered by anyone with sufficient patience to follow a few rules.  Contrary to popular belief, a ventriloquist does not actually "throw" his voice.  Every sound that he creates comes directly from his own vocal cords. His success in convincing his audience that it comes from somewhere else depends on his skill in concealing lip movements and in producing false voices.  A tremendous aid to this illusion is the fact that human ears judge imperfectly the direction of a remote source of sound, as anyone may observe at a sound movie.  Here voices that seem to come from the lips of actors moving about the screen actually issue from fixed loudspeakers concealed behind it.  Even more faulty is the ear's ability to judge the distance of a source of a sound.

 

The skilled ventriloquist takes full advantage of these weaknesses, and loses no opportunity to add to the illusion by the power of suggestion.  In the "near" technique that he adopts when working with a dummy close at hand, he disguises his voice by speaking in falsetto.  Those in the audience, seeing only the puppet's lips move, assume that the voice is it's own.  To escape making telltale lip movements, a ventriloquist avoids certain dangerous words such as those containing "p" and "b: sounds.  Try it before a mirror, and you will see why a ventriloquist's dummy ask for a quart of ale not a pale of deer.  Where such sounds most be used, they are slurred over.  More difficult is the "distraction technique by which the performer seems to make a voice come from a remote spot, in a conversation. with an imaginary person behind the scenes.  Here the ventriloquist uses strained or magnified tones suggestive of distance.  These sounds are produced deep in the throat and have no resonance to normal speech.  To practice them, try taking a deep breath, hold it, and attempting to make a sound in the throat.  A gurgle will result, now if you exhale slowly while saying "ah" lessening or deepening sound is produced.  This " drone," as it is known to ventriloquist is the level of all "distant" sound and a experienced performer can acquire sufficient control of their throat muscles, to make it startlingly affective the further back in the throat it is produced, the more remote its apparent source seems. 

 

Gestures, glances, or head movements replace the dummy of the "near" technique in suggesting the exact spot from which the sound is supposed to come.  This trick is responsible for the popular impression that the ventriloquist can " throw: his voice, or make it issue from a place at some distance from the speaker.

 


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