By Stephanie Ciccarelli
July 19, 2010
"In a world..."
You might recognize that sort of phrasing and associate it with what some in our industry refer to as the Voice of God.
What defines "The Voice of God" when spoken of in voice over terminology?
Today, we're going to take a closer look at what the stereotypical sound is, why it became so popular and how the voice type, or rather the "sound," may have got its name.
The use of language as a form of expression, the spoken word specifically, has played a role in our human existence since the very beginning. In our earliest days we were gifted with language skills and capabilities superior to those of any other beings. We also have the ability to choose which words to use and how we employ those words.
The fact that we are able to speak is amazing in itself, but what makes us truly unique is that we can use our voices to communicate a message verbally in a number of ways using complex language skills, phrasing and tone.
When it comes to the voice, there are many ways to classify and describe it, whether by pitch, range, resonance, or other vocal qualities.
Common vocal classifications are soprano, mezzo, alto, tenor, baritone and bass.
While they primarily describe vocal range, we also at times identify with and use archetypes when describing a voice. No doubt you've heard of the "soccer mom," the "surfer dude" or the "announcer."
One vocal archetype that never seems to go out of style is the Voice of God.
Typically, this vocal delivery is associated with the baritone of a movie trailer voice talent. The most universally known performer who possessed this iconic delivery, and arguably developed it, was the late great Don LaFontaine. If you don't know his name, you know his voice. Don specialized in trailer and promo for decades and passed away on September 1, 2008.
To put a face to the name and the voice, take a look at this YouTube video featuring the GEICO commercial Don LaFontaine took part in.
In voice over terms, a male voice talent performing this delivery generally is a baritone whose voice is:
à¹ Audible to the ear
à¹ Bears a gravelly tone
à¹ Commands attention
These qualities, while relevant to artistic direction aimed at achieving a particular vocal delivery that books movie trailer reads, are not fully consistent with what is known about how God chooses to speak, His voice being described as inaudible to the ear and heard in your heart as a still small voice, a silent whisper.
Some people joked that God wanted Don to give His voice back, but from what I can see, God gave Don his own unique voice, as we are all given a unique voice, and enabled Don to use it to the best of his ability.
Don was and still is a beloved figure in our industry. He was immensely talented, generous and successful.
I can't help but wonder if perhaps people thought that the qualities Don's voice and his delivery possessed were similar to how they perceived or hoped God's voice to be like?
This topic so far as I know has not yet been discussed, at least from this angle. Do you have any ideas or comments you'd like to share?
Looking forward to hearing from you,