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J.S. Bach was a voice actor? Wie konnte das sein?*

J.S. Bach was a voice actor?

Wie konnte das sein?*




So how can this be that Johann Sebastian Bach be considered a voice actor? It can't be. Say it isn't so.


Yes, you would be correct in saying that J.S. Bach would not be a voice actor. Of course not. Don't be silly. But something the other night actually caused me to think about the influence this master of musical composition had and how musicians perform his complex works. It almost made me fall out of my couch. The revelation was blinding. 


To set the stage, one must know that we voice actors (voiceovers or voice talents if you will) are tasked with getting a script, interpreting it, and performing it with our own "slant". Our personality. Our soul if you will. That's what we do. That's why people hire us. Our script is our guide and our experience makes the performance. 


As I was listening to some of my favorite Bach pieces last night, I noted that on one specific work; Tocatta and Fugue in D minor (you know the one, the scary organ music usually played at Halloween), each performer did not perform it like the previous performer. 


Many recordings of this classic, or rather Baroque piece have been produced. My first experience was on Switched On Bach by then Walter Carlos; later Wendy Carlos. I grew quite accustomed to this rendition only to hear it again by other organists. It is an organ piece you know. Each and every one of those performances was technically and magically different. So much so, that you could almost tell who the organist was, assuming you knew their style.


But what really hit me was when I heard that piece played by a symphony of get this...electric guitars! Yes! Electric guitars and it was AMAZING. The group is Sinfonity and here is the link just in case you want to hear it. I do suggest you take a listen. I can't say enough about it.

I digress though. Where was I? Oh yes, various performances of Tocatta and Fugue in D minor. On listening to the various versions of this popular work, I began to realize that given the same score, each performer; no matter an organist or a group of modern guitarists were playing, each one had their own vision. We've established this already, but the connection here is that a group of voice actors can be given the same script, and each one will apply their own groove to it. Their own interpretation. Their own organ or guitar per se.


The script writer, much like Herr Bach has a specific sound they hear in their heads. I'm sure Johann played his manuscript as he heard it. He was a master musician you know. But lets take the deeper dive into how we believe it's meant to be played today, it being well over 250 years old. 


The only thing a musician has is the music with all its marks, time signatures, notes of various times, pauses, repeats and such. All of these indications are set. No alterations needed to perform this as-is. So why do musicians perform it slightly differently? 


Well, we've also established that. They apply their soul and their experience to it! Indeed, they feel the music. They capture its essence. They realize the emotion that a piece written in a minor key has and know that when they play it, that emotion needs to be clear. 


Voice talents have that as well. They may not have the complex instructions written down on paper as the T&F Dm score has, but they do have the words, and those words mean something.


So is Johann Sebastian Bach a voice actor? No. We know that. But the concepts of writing a musical piece and having it interpreted in many different ways goes to show how one can create literary music and have that be joyfully interpreted, each standing on it's own merit.


*Sorry if this is wrong. Google Translate you know.

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