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C.C. Hogan

Recording my Poetry

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Getting the voice right

I am not a voice over, but I have a huge amount of experience in recording voices as part of another life some years ago. So, you would think that the idea of recording some of my writing would not be a huge hurdle for me. After all, I have a good Neumann mic, Cubase Pro and I know how to use it all.

Well, you would be wrong.

Like many people, I really do not like the sound of my own voice. I was brought up in London and I am not convinced that a North London accent is the nicest around. When it comes to these islands, there are many more interesting accents. I generally think the Irish take the prize for one of the more expressive accents, especially young women from Dublin ( I had a crush on one of them once purely because of how she swore at me). Some of the Scottish accents are rather nice as is a certain style of Welsh accent - especially under the command of Tony Hopkins. And of course, many of the English accents have their uses, though some are more comedic than others. London, on the other hand, and especially Estuary English, has limited appeal.

Well, I have done a few recordings, and much to my surprise, a couple of people have quite liked my voice, particularly some Americans. I am not talking huge numbers, but it was rather nice to hear. Also, as part of these conversations, I have been told that I really should think about doing an audiobook version of Dirt.

Now, that is something else entirely. Dirt is huge. I have just finished writing Series Two, book three, and it is two hundred and thirty thousand words long! Recording that is a massive job and I certainly could not afford to employ a voice-over. To be honest, even if I could, it would be a problem. I spent twenty-five years producing voices for everything from drama to commercials, books to corporate videos.

I have listened to several audio books and though the readings are fine, they are no way close to the level we used to work to. I would have to produce them, not leave them to it, and it would take forever. They would want more money, quite understandably!  (Plus danger money for working with someone who had a bit of a reputation in the industry....)

So, If I do this, I will have to do it myself. It will not be as good a read as Iain McKellen would do, though less camp, but at least I can afford me.

Which brings me back to the poetry. 

Recording my poetry achieves two things. Firstly, I am a great believer that poems, like songs, are a performance medium. I don't care how good the poet, they are much better performed than they are in print. Since I do believe that, I should not just say it, but live up to it. Recording is a step in the right direction.

But also, by recording lots of poems, it allows me to get my voice back into good working order and mess with my technology to get the recording as good as I can, allowing that I do not have an acoustically treated voice booth - having a top mic is only half the job.

I have now recorded seventeen in the last few days, in addition to the few I have recorded over the last year, and I have put them up on my YouTube channel in a specific playlist. You can find them by clicking here. I will be adding more over the next few weeks (I have rather a lot of them!)

I would like to also thank, at this point, a friend of mine called Molly. I have been throwing some of my recordings at her and managed to make her cry at one point, which I am feeling rather guilty about. But she has been really good. It helps when I record to have an audience in mind, even if it is just one person. It means I am not talking to a mic, but to a thinking, clever human who I can imagine is sitting there listening. I am may well be boring her silly half the time, and she is probably now on the verge of blocking me on Facebook, but still - it really, really helps. She has also just finished a graphic design qualification, so she gets being a creative twit.  For anyone else who is recording their own material, I strongly suggest you find a good friend to help like this.

The poems vary a lot in subject matter. Some are foul-mouthed rants, others are little comic verses and some introspective love poems. I am a writer, which means I am lonely old git, and I love writing depressing love poetry!

Below is an example to get you going, and look out, in the next few months, for the audiobook version of Dirt! Thank you for listening...

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