Star Wars occupied most of my childhood. The original film was released when I was 5 years old and, after seeing that, Luke Skywalker, tie fighters and Wookies consumed the majority of my brother, Stefan, and my waking hours… during our sleeping hours, we had The Empire Strikes Back sheets!
It is a movie with very well designed and unique sounds: R2D2 beeps and boops, lightsaber hums and the terrifyingly unmistakable scream of the tie fighter are just a few of the obvious ones. We used to imitate them as we played and Stefan and I can still identify key parts of the movies blindfolded by just hearing the sound effects or music.
With this history (or misspent youth) I was super pumped to have one of my favourite podcasts, Twenty Thousand Hertz, do an episode on the backstories of many of the key sounds from the Star Wars movies. They interview Ben Burtt, the sound designer who worked with George Lucas to define these iconic sounds and it was fascinating to hear where they came from. I have known some of this history from previous nerdy pursuits, but it was great to hear it from the guy who actually created them and get to hear, from a sound design perspective, how it was done, layer by layer.
If you love Star Wars too, this is a must-listen. If you don’t, you still may like the show, but, frankly, you have bigger problems. 😉
A lovingly crafted podcast that reveals the stories behind the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds.
Our vocal system is incredibly complex. What we call “the voice” starts with very precise movements of our vocal cords, and then goes through an entire “resonation system” that includes our throat, mouth, lips, tongue, and teeth. With enough control over these components, people can do some truly mind-bending things with their voices, creating sounds that feel out of this world—from rumbling lows to piercing highs, and even two notes sung at once. This episode features vocal coach Matt Ramsey and Tuvan musician and throat singer Albert Kuvezin.
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Episode transcript, music, and credits can be found here: https://www.20k.org/episodes/vocalstratosphere
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