Monotone vs. varied intonation: How to change your pitch in English

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What makes a voice interesting?
Why some speakers are charismatic and engaging, and others are just… blah.

Here’s how I see it.
It’s not just the level of their English or how native sounding their accent is.
Believe me, it isn’t.
Because you can have a non-native R,
and you can pronounce sheet and shit the same way
(I mean, I prefer you not to, but technically you can)
and still be a great speaker.
Engaging. Interesting. Inspiring.

In fact, the video today talks about a struggle not only non-native speakers face but also native speakers, and that is…
A monotone voice.
(Same note speech.)

I talked quite a lot about why changing your pitch is crucial for clarity and impact,
but I never spoke about HOW to raise or drop your pitch.

I have seen hundreds of students (not exaggerating)
THINKING that they are raising their pitch,
when in fact they are only saying the words a little louder.
Using the same tone.

This is why I decided to dedicate today’s video to the difference between monotone voice (because if you want to change it, you first have to HEAR it)
And varied intonation, which is the familiar melody of American English.

You will also learn:
1. A simple exercise that will help you to raise and drop your pitch consciously
2. How to recognize and avoid same note speech (monotone)
3. The melody patterns that will make you sound more interesting.
4. A fun exercise to practice American intonation and pitch changes

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I really like this shirt but I don’t
think I’m gonna get it.

I really like this shirt but I don’t think I’m gonna get it.

Hey guys it’s Hadar and this is the Accent’s Way.

Today we’re gonna talk
about intonation and pitch

what is pitch, and what’s the difference
between varied intonation and different

levels of pitch, and monotonous
intonation and same-note speech.

You know us accent coaches, we always talk about: raising your pitch, dropping your pitch

high pitch, low pitch. But what is pitch
to begin with? How do we control it? and

why is it so important to American
melody and intonation?

so let’s begin with defining ‘pitch’. Pitch is the level of your tone, the note that you’re

playing with your voice. You have higher
pitch which is here, and you have lower

pitch, which is here. The higher the
frequency of your vocal cords, the higher

the pitch is. The lower the frequency of
your vocal cords (the vibrations of the

vocal cords) the lower the voice is. Now you can always play with higher notes and

lower notes when you speak. You can also stay on the same tone and not

change your pitch whatsoever, no matter what you’re saying. That would be more..

monotonous speech. In American English, pitch plays a significant role.

Because words that are stressed in English are higher in pitch. That means the pitch is

always lifted when you stress a word.

But before that, let’s understand how you

even control your pitch. Because of
course it’s easier to say: “raise your

pitch when you need to stress a word” but
how do you even do that?

To practice that ,let’s start with a song.
Now, don’t tell me: “I can’t sing! I’m not

musical” … a simple song.

“Happy birthday”.

I’m sure you can sing it.

so listen up or..

sing along .

Happy birthday to you

Just that.

Do it again with me.

ha-ppy birth-day

to you.

every word had a different note

happy bir.. when I went to ‘bir’ I raised my pitch

I went for a higher note

happy birthday.. (went back to a lower note) to… so technically this is a more

stressed word because it’s higher in
pitch.. to you. And then, went back down.

Ok? Happy birthday to you. Now I’m
speaking, not singing, but I’m still

raising my pitch, according to the notes
that I know from the song. So raising the

pitch it’s going for a higher note just
like in a song okay good now that you

know how to raise your pitch and how to
control your voice to go higher in pitch

and lower in pitch let’s talk about the
language. Let’s talk about how it comes

to play in English. So in English when
you stress a word or when you reach the

primary stress of a word, then you go
higher in pitch tah tah tah. to-mo-rrow

tomorrow. I’ll see you tomorrow. Right? I’m kind of singing it, but I’m not really

singing it.. I’m speaking it – but playing
with my pitch. (playing with my pitch)

Again, it’s harder to do it when you say
it in words, but then when you turn it

into music – tah tah tah tah tah tah try it
with me …. it’s very

easy when it’s not related to words. Why
is that? because a lot of speakers are

used to playing the same note when
speaking. Now let’s compare

monotonous vs varied pitch. And you tell me at the end,

what you think sounds better.

How are you doing today?

Every syllable receives
a different note. How are you doing today?

I’ll see you tomorrow.

All I did was change the pitch, and see

how different it sounds?

I’ll see you

I really like this shirt but I don’t think I’m gonna get it.

Now, my pronunciation is accurate, my

rhythm is pretty good, but my intonation
is flat.

All I did now was change the pitch.

I raised the pitch for the stress words,
and dropped it at the end, and played

with the level so every syllable was a
little higher or a little lower than the

previous word.

Now, the reason why I’m doing this is
because a lot of people are too afraid

to play with their pitch. Because in
their language, keeping the same note is

the common intonation pattern. It doesn’t
mean it’s a bad thing, it’s just how it

is in their language. But when you apply
it onto English it makes it sound dull

and boring, and less clear, because when
you go higher in pitch, you help the

listener understand what words are more
important, and what words are less

important .

‘I don’t feel very well’.
Flat intonation. ‘I don’t feel very well’

So ‘feel’ was the highest note.

I went higher in pitch for ‘feel’

That’s the stressed word. And I dropped
everything else.

Okay that’s it for now. I
hope it’s a little more clear – the

difference between higher notes and
lower notes, why it’s important to change

your pitch, and how it affects your
speech when you’re using varied

intonation, how it creates engagement and how it stirs emotions. This is why

it’s something that you definitely want
to work on when you’re learning

English, because sometimes it’s even more important than getting the R right or

the TH.

If you’re wondering how you can
practice it this is what you can do:

Look at the bottom right corner of this video, and you’ll see this small cog wheel

if you click on it you’ll see speed.
Click on it again, and see that you can

change the speed to half the speed, 75%
or x 1.25 %. Go to 50% and play the video

in a 50% speed. When you do that you’ll
notice the changes in intonation a lot

more and what you want to do is just
practice the melody. It doesn’t even

matter where the words are. Just play the
melody of the people speaking whether

it’s me or someone else. Just play the
melody, and repeat it over and over again.

And then, go into fast speed and you’ll
notice the changes in pitch a lot more,

and you’ll be able to make these changes
yourself because now you can control

your pitch. Because you’ve got to think
of it as music as if these are just

notes rather than just words and rather
than just stressing words. Ok? leave me a

comment below tell me if it’s clear and
tell me what you are doing to improve

your intonation and melody in English.
And of course if you still struggle with

something let me know in the comments
below as well. Don’t forget to subscribe

and click on the bell to get
notifications every time I upload a new

video. Thank you so much, have a wonderful week and I’ll see you next week

in the next video.

Show Episode Transcript

5 Comments on “Monotone vs. varied intonation: How to change your pitch in English”

  1. I find these practices inspiring, exciting, productive and very important. Those, who wants to speak an English efficient for all possible purposes should take them seriously and apply in the everyday life..

  2. Hello Madam,
    I am a non native speaker and i am watching your videos.its very useful to improve the pronunciation and thanks for your service.

  3. for froncophone country and for the older person (40 th or 50th years old)
    there is no opportunity to practice english
    usually limitted in listening some video or writing some phrases in chat or reading
    few paragraphs
    so talking english is very difficult

  4. Very beneficial lesson . In the mean while I will keep it in my mobile for frequently practising .
    I really enjoyed it . You always surprise us . Iam so Grateful .

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