Mel's Vocal Possession Primer
In the tulpa community, I see a lot of emphasis placed on possession of the limbs and body, but very little emphasis placed on the use of the voice. I think this is quite a shame as both possession and switching can prove highly useful means by which tulpas (and system mates in general) may express themselves in the world at large. This can prove especially beneficial for those who do not spend much time in front, and allow for many opportunities for non-primary system mates to express themselves in ways foreign to them, but often familiar to a primary fronter. In short, learning to control and use the body’s voice, and furthermore find a means of speaking that the system mate in question likes and identifies with, can allow for greater autonomy when controlling the body and a more dynamic means of thinking and reacting than in text-based conversation. This guide is primarily written toward and from the new speaker's perspective, rather than the host or primary's, though some of the advice within is applicable to both parties.
** Before You Begin**
Naturally, before a system mate can speak they must have a voice, or a rough idea of what they would wish to sound like. I will not go too in-depth with the details here, as such things would be better suited to a creation guide. In the context of this guide, we shall focus on the nature of the tulpa’s chosen voice in relation to the body. How is their mindvoice, or the ideal voice they would like to have, similar to the body's? How does it differ? How will this influence the way you interact with the voice?
For instance, if a tulpa has a very high pitched voice, and the body’s voice is very low pitched, this may make for an awkward adjustment period. The body’s voice may waver or crack, and the vocal cords may even end up getting damaged if the tulpa forgets to speak in the body’s range. If the tulpa or system mate has a particular accent, it is important to be mindful of that as well–after all, if the body suddenly starts speaking with a British accent despite being for all intents and purposes Canadian (as in our case) people will notice. So, it is important to take into account when and where the system mate may use the voice, as well as how much they may realistically differentiate it from that of the host/primary without drawing needless attention.
Stage 1: Starting Out
This is always the hardest part. Oftentimes starting small will be your best option here. In fact, it may be beneficial early on, for the tulpa not to attempt to take control directly at all, but instead for the host to say whatever it is the tulpa would like to say themselves. So if the tulpa would like to say something like, “I like cupcakes”, the host would say it out loud in their place. While this approach may not be ideal for everyone, it can prove helpful in getting the tulpa in the proper mindset to start using and associating with the voice on their own.
However you do choose to go about it, once the tulpa believes they are ready to start using the voice on their own, now comes the first real step. As in the case of any other kind of possession, it is important for the host to let go, step back, and guide their focus to the mindscape or elsewhere. From there the tulpa may do the opposite and step in and take control to the best of their ability. A note to the tulpa, I will warn you, your early attempts will not be elegant. You may not even say much at all on your first go. Do not be discouraged! The more you keep trying, the better you will get. Keep focusing on the voice and trying to associate with it, watch how your host or system mate goes about speaking and do your best to replicate it. As time goes on you will get a better feel for how things work.
I have found that beginning to speak is the hardest part, myself, and in the beginning stages it can often be hard for the to figure out what you would like to say. To remedy this I would suggest reciting poetry or reading back something you have written. Do not focus too much on having the voice sound exactly the way yours does in mindvoice at this stage. For now, simply focus on getting the words out and pronouncing them to the best of your ability.
Stage 2: Refinement
Once you have familiarized yourself with the body’s voice, you may now begin exploring ways to refine the voice and figure out how you would most like to have it sound when you are in control of it, if you so choose to. This may prove useful as it can be an easy way to help others distinguish the host and tulpa apart when one or the other is speaking, but this step is ultimately optional if the system has nobody online or off they are out to, or if they would like to remain discreet.
I have found one helpful method of refining the body’s voice is to record yourself when speaking, play the voice back, and compare it to the way you sound in mindvoice. Must you speak faster or slower? Do you have an accent? How is the body’s pitch when you are in control? Should you ham things up or tome it down? Take note of these things, then record again. Keep practising until the voice is satisfactory. This will take a long while to perfect, but for those who wish to sound distinctive from other system mates the extra effort will be worth it.
On another note, it is also important to take gender differences between voices into account in the cases of system mates whose identified gender does not match the body’s sex. In a biological sense, male bodies do have thicker vocal cords than female bodies, and thus lower pitched voices, but much of what makes a body sound masculine versus feminine is up to the source of the voice (‘chest’ versus ‘head’ voice), intonation, enunciation, volume, and choice of diction. Here are some resources for those on both sides of the gender binary, and beyond:
Lastly, should you choose to do such exercises, be careful not to strain the body’s voice and remember to drink plenty of water throughout. Also, take care that it is you and only you training the voice to speak in such a way, otherwise, should you blend with another while in control of the voice, the others in your system may be stuck with an off-kilter voice for a time. I take no responsibility for whatever harm may come to the body should you excessively train its voice.
Stage 3: Dynamic Conversation
This is by far the most intimidating aspect of vocal possession for one with less experience speaking out loud, but also the most rewarding. Do not be ashamed if you clam up early on or get anxious, it happens to the very best of us. For this stage, having another system around to practice speaking with out loud or an open minded friend (in person or via Skype) will be ideal, however if you have the confidence you can pretty much speak to whomever you like.
A fair warning: conversion through speech is much different that conversing over the internet. Online, you get to plan out your responses and take more time to think–even IRC chatrooms have a much slower pace than meatspace conversation. Like anything, this will take practice, but it is important to learn not to over think things. Striking a balance between thinking and speaking when conversing with another can prove difficult, but with enough trial and error you will start to get a feel for the rhythm and flow of conversation. Difficult as it may be, try and abandon whatever fear you may have of saying something stupid or otherwise offending someone. You are still learning, even if you do mess some things up it is not the end of the world.
At the start of the conversation, you will likely very much rely on your host or another more experienced system mate to guide you on what to say, even if you do not realize it. This is normal. A word of advice to the host or elder system mate reading this: aside from letting go and allowing the speaker to control the voice on their own, you will now have a second job, and that is to keep them focused and engaged so they do not retreat from the conversation or dissociate from the voice. Give them a lot of encouragement, but unless they absolutely cannot continue, do not jump in every time they struggle and speak for them, either. Chances are that, as the conversation goes on, the tulpa or system mate will become more and more engaged, to the point that you may step back and watch as they go. With enough time and practice, their speaking will become just as reflexive and dynamic as your own.
For a tulpa or non-primary system mate, finding a voice of their own can be challenging in all aspects. However, with enough practice and dedication it can make for a very rewarding experience, and allow the individual in question to find new ways to socialize and express themselves. Beyond that, the dynamic nature of conversation provides an opportunity to think in new, perhaps foreign ways for those who are not used to speaking with the voice in real time. Overlooked as it may be compared to possession of the limbs, vocal possession is an excellent means for tulpas and system mates to associate with the body, as well as to explore and refine their own autonomy. Happy speaking.