Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sotto Voce

With a number of high-level managers visiting our office this week, some of our work discussions turned to how we were going to showcase our presentations. I don't know how the "talk show" theme came up then (because I wasn't in any of the meetings), but when someone brought up the question of a "voice" to do the guest introductions, there was a particular writer / systems analyst / mathematician / blogger who came to mind.

To be honest, I'm not a proper voice talent. I've had a deep baritone voice since sixth grade, which meshes rather well with my fluency in English... but I haven't really taken advantage of this to the fullest. Nevertheless, I end up doing a few favors for people every now and then: I've got about three or four multimedia presentations and one TV commercial to my credit so far, not to mention a few communications theses. I've even played God in a couple of skits for theology class. (It's amazing what a little reverb effect can do.)

I also get the occasional inquiry about once or twice a month. Someone once thought that I was an actor, for instance. A couple of call center managers have asked me for a resumé. And for some reason, Starbucks baristas have this tendency to ask if I'm a radio deejay of some sort.

I have no intention of using my voice as a means to get by. I think of it as a finite resource that ebbs and flows with my general health: If I use it too often, it'll run out. If I develop a sore throat, it'll be too rusted for use. If I even so much as go without a glass of water for too long, it'll reflect the same measure of dryness.

With my workload from last week, however, I wasn't able to have a proper sit-down session where I could do my recordings. I've tried to do them this weekend, of course, but I've encountered some obstacles. It's difficult to find a place that's completely silent, for one, and I've had to reword my spiel every five minutes just to avoid any awkward pieces of text ("the sixth service occurrence that still threatens seats"). In addition, I'm working without any proper sound-editing software available, which means that I can't take advantage of any denoising effects. The temptation for my speech to degenerate into a series of wrestling-style introductions ("Director X, LET'S GET READY TO RUUUUUUUUMBLE!") has been pretty hard to resist.

And all that boils down to the fact that I have to do my spiel live in front of the entire company tomorrow afternoon. I don't like the implications here — because you have to admit that it's not a proper way to stand out at work — but it does get a bit of attention. And it makes things interesting. I just have to hope that I don't screw it up.

Strangely enough, the only people who don't seek to take advantage of my voice are the people in my immediate family. I mean, you'd probably expect that they'd all be falling over each other to use the "homegrown" (read: "free") resource. But no... it turns out that there are quite a few people in my family who have similar vocal structures, and it seems that we have enough of them who are willing to preside over familial discussions. We get baritone voices on a daily basis, yes.

And just think — this sort of thing is hereditary. If I end up having kids, they might have voices low enough to move mountains. They could just be the harbingers of the apocalypse, mind you... and Lord help them if they're female.

You have to play life with the hand that you're dealt, I suppose, even if it's the Cosmic Joker who's holding the cards. And the voice does have its advantages, if only because it turns heads whenever I join in the religious hymns on the occasional Sunday.

But please... no more requests to do karaoke. I'm a little tired of all the urgings to perform songs by the Bee Gees, thank you very much.


happylittlegirl said...

Cool! I once played The Devil for a radio play. :P Haha!

Anton said...

Yeah, i do remember you having that deep rich baritone voice when i met you at iblog2.

now, if you can only tell me which commercial did you get featured in....

Sean said...

Ida: I hope you won't mind if I mention that I've always thought of the Devil as speaking in a woman's voice. (Although in some imaginations, God would sound like Alanis Morissette...)

Anton: I think it was a promotional for the 2002 Webby Awards, or something like that. Unfortunately for you, it's been out of circulation for a long while now. *Kicks some videotapes back under a blanket*

jeff reiji said...

You voiced as God for a school play? I'm thinking of a voice something ala Trace Adkins... cool...