Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Writing About Voices


Just a short post today but I have to share.

I don't know about you, but I find a man's voice can be as seductive as his face. More than once in my fiction writing, I've tried to write about this phenomenon...but it's so much harder to describe a voice than a face. I mean, how many times can you write "velvet baritone" before you feel like a complete idiot?

Tonight I discovered someone who knows how to describe a voice. I am just amazed by this man's talent in this regard. You know how wine connaisseurs manage to come up with the words for all those subtle wine flavors? Well, Octavio Roca of the San Francisco Chronicle knows how to do it with voices, apparently.

Having been transported to somewhere beyond Cloud Nine (I lost count at Cloud Seventeen) by listening to Jason Danieley sing "Make Our Garden Grow" from "Candide," I thought I'd do a quick search to see how the performance was judged critically. (By the way, if you want to hear a sample, you can on Jason's Audio Page.) Mr. Roca reviewed a concert performance of the show in July of 2002. He described Jason's voice thus:
"easy and vibrant throughout the range, with a thrilling bloom at the top and honeyed baritonal colors that add the illusion of heft."
Why can't I write like this? Okay, yeah, at first that sentence may strike you as overblown, but that's only because in regular life people don't describe voices. Let me tell you, Mr. Roca captured just what I love about Jason's voice but couldn't describe so succinctly and well. My words, in attempting to say the same thing, would have gone something like this: "Well, his voice is so even and strong no matter where he is in the register...but when he hits the high crescendo notes, it's like you were just assumed into heaven. And there's just this sweetness you can't describe. And the most amazing thing: even though he's a tenor, and usually singing fairly high, his voice has this substance to it, this masculinity, that is completely unique."

Diana, that quality is "the illusion of heft." Yes, exactly, thank you, Octavio.

By the way, for those who care (and I honestly don't expect you to be concerned about Diana Laurence's Lunatic Phase of the Month), I am currently suffering from this weird disappointment over every male singer not being Jason Danieley. Today it even happened with a version of "O Holy Night" by Luciano Pavarotti, God rest his soul. I mean, come on...Pavarotti? But I can't help it. It's the heft, I think.

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