How a Ventriloquist Makes the B, M & P Sounds

When it comes to ventriloquism, one of the most challenging aspects is mastering the art of voicing the labial sounds, specifically the letters b, m, and p. As a comedian ventriloquist, I’ve spent countless hours practicing and perfecting this technique, and I’m excited to share my insights with you.

Image of Ventriloquist Saying M, P &B

So, how does a comedian ventriloquist make the b, m & p sounds? Well, it all comes down to a technique called “substitute sounds.”

Essentially, this involves using a sound similar to the one I’m trying to make, but with a letter that doesn’t require lip movement.

An example would be using a light “k” sound to replace a “p.”

The “k” sound is made in the back of your mouth, so no lip movement is required.

If you picture yourself saying the letter “p,” while actually making a “k” sound to mimic “p,” with enough practice, it’ll sound exactly like a “p.”

Quick note: Some ventriloquists prefer to make a “t” sound to replace “p.” Whatever works best for you.

I personally like to make the “k” and “t” sound – sort of a hybrid – to make the “p” sound.

If you want to learn the basics of ventriloquism itself, jump over to How Do Ventriloquists Talk?

Lip Control Techniques

Lip control techniques are used to create the illusion that the puppet is speaking.

This involves controlling the movement of my lips and tongue to match the sounds that the puppet is making.

 

Phonetics of B, M, and P

B, M, and P are all examples of bilabial consonants, meaning they are produced by bringing both lips together.

The difference between these sounds lies in the amount of air that is released when the lips are separated.

For example, the sound of B is produced by completely closing the lips and then releasing a burst of air.

The sound of M is produced in a similar way, but with no burst of air.

Finally, the sound of P is produced by completely closing the lips and then releasing a small burst of air.

Ventriloquists must find alternative ways to produce these sounds without moving their lips.

As mentioned above, a common technique is to substitute these sounds with other similar sounds that can be produced without lip movement.

Ventriloquist’s Technique for B, M, P

As a ventriloquist, I often get asked how I make the sounds “b,” “m,” and “p” without moving my lips. It’s a technique that takes practice, but with enough effort, anyone can learn it. Here are some of the techniques I use to create the illusion of speaking without moving my lips:

For example, the sound of B can be substituted with the sound of D or a hard G, while the sound of P can be substituted with the sound of T or soft K.

The M sound can be made using the “ing” sound that is typically at the end of a word like “fishing”. If you say “fishing,” but just say the “ing” ending, your throat is actually closing up in a way that allows you to create the M sound without using your lips.

How to Not Use Your Lips in Speech

While the lips play an important role in producing many speech sounds, they are not the only part of the mouth involved in speech production.

Ventriloquists can use other parts of the mouth, such as the tongue and the soft palate, to produce sounds that would normally require lip movement.

Subtle Lip Movements

While it may seem like ventriloquists don’t move their lips at all, in reality, we use very subtle movements to create the illusion of speaking without moving our lips.

For example, when saying the “b” sound, I slightly press my lips together and then release them, creating a small puff of air.

Similarly, when saying the “m” sound, I press my lips together and then hum, creating a vibration in my mouth that produces the sound.

And for the “p” sound, I close my lips tightly and then release them, creating a small burst of air.

Alternative Sounds for Illusion

In addition to using subtle lip movements, ventriloquists can also use alternative sounds to create the illusion of speaking without moving their lips.

For example, instead of saying “b,” I might say “d” or “g,” which sound similar but don’t require the same lip movement.

Similarly, instead of saying “m,” I might say “n” or “ng,” and instead of saying “p,” I might say “t” or “k.”

Practice Exercises

To master the technique of speaking without moving your lips, it’s important to practice regularly.

One exercise that I find helpful is to practice saying words that contain the sounds “b,” “m,” and “p” while looking in a mirror.

This allows you to see any subtle lip movements you might be making and work to eliminate them.

Another exercise is to practice saying tongue twisters that contain these sounds, such as “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”

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