The Voice: 4. Voice and Translation

Voice is important for me when I translate.
When I got texts, I always (unconsciously) imagine the suitable voice for the texts.

I do quite a lot of marketing translation, and each company, brand or promotion has its own human-like characteristics. Some companies specify the tone of the texts, but that's not enough for me. I need to set its voice in my head from its character, specification etc. Stable? High? Comforting? Energetic? Sultry? Fun? For example, if it's proper texts for general public, I pull up goody-goody type of voice. And when I translate, I make that voice read my texts in my head and see if it's natural.

Sometimes I get to do some voice script translations, like audio guide and tutorial. They give me plain scripts, and later they record with voice actors. In this case, when the final version comes out I can compare with the voice I imagined and voice they chose. And that's fun. (And yes, sometimes annoyed.. :)

One of the most interesting works I got to do in the past was translation for kids' products. I'm not allowed to say precisely, so let's say it was for a toy; A toy which interacts with kids via voice. They created this toy's character and sent me scripts and time frame. The character is not visible and only exists in voice. But their concept and scripts were very distinctive, therefore it was really easy for me to come up with its voice.

Along with that voice, I gave him Japanese-speaking persona, and he grew on me. Though it was very tight schedule, I was just having so much fun. (And I can still imitate his voice.) Not sure how its final version turned out, but the company later sent me a lovely message to tell me that they really love it. I was very happy about it, but can't help wishing that he got a good voice..

By the way, you know that I'm not talking about subtitle or voiceover translation for video/film. For those translation, there's no need to imagine voices because it's already there. And yeah, the voiceover's voice... well, I guess that's for next time.


The Voice: 3. Vocalists

Just like some people enjoy playing fantasy football game, I play fantasy music game in my mind. Especially when I listen to the voice I really like. I go through my music library and imagine what the song will sound like if she or he sings this song, and find the best match. Just like selecting the covers album playlist for them.

People's voice is many-sided, but I think it really shines when the right song (or text) is given to it. The right song; the song which emphasize the appeal and personality of the voice. Deft producers/composers know the best voice range of vocalists, and make the song which brings out their best. (And most cases, vocalists later want to try something outside of their zones and leave the producers and go haywire... sad, but that's how things go.)

Having said that, the best appeal of the vocalist can be varied according to the listeners: Some people adore his base voice and consider it as his best weapon while others adore his falsetto. And what I do is a fantasy selection which completely based on my likings. It's all fun. I imagine how the songs like, and alter the tempo or version if necessary. And when I found the perfect match, I smug in and resist the urge to write a suggestion mail to that vocalist..

Yellow Butterfly - Tahiti 80

Xavier Boyer is one of my favorite vocalists. Love his light foggy voice. Wishing he will sing more standards in acoustic version. (And I found a Japanese musician, mabanua has very similar voice type but denser. It's also fun to discover similarities in voices..)

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