From the Greek theatres of antiquity to present day, vocal sound effects have served to enhance the viewing experience and to transport the audience into the diegesis. Among all of the special effects that can be applied to the human voice, those that deal with Evil are are the most interesting to produce, and make the most innovative use of technology. In contrast to the specific standards set out for dialogue recording and mixing, with the voices of villains, ghosts, and monsters, sound designers are free to exploit phenomena such as auditory pareidolia, backmasking, spatial localization, and every other kind of psycho-acoustic foolery that can be conjured. Such effects present an interesting study from an historical perspective, because the exact recipes used to create them are in most cases proprietary secrets known only to the original mixer and sound department and are not well documented, but fortunately today the tools for analysis and re-creation are readily available.
In the form of a historical–forensic investigation this project aims to put together a compendium entitled Elements of Evil featuring an investigation of Villainous Voices in cinema (or film), with the purpose of revealing the techniques used to produce them. The work will be informed by the works of William Whittington (2007, 2010), Michel Chion (1982), Mihoko Teshigawara (2003), Jay Beck (2008, 2010), Steen Christiansen (2010), as well as examples from film repertoire.
BECK, Jay and Tony GRAJEDA (2008). Lowering the Boom: Critical Studies in Film Sound. University of Illinois Press
BECK, Jay (2010). “William Friedkin’s The Exorcist and the Proprietary Nature of Sound.” In Cinephile, Vol. 6 No. 1, Sound on Screen. The University of British Columbia Film Program
CHION, Michel (1982). The Voice in Cinema. Columbia University Press
CHRISTIANSEN, Steen (2010). “Speaking the Undead: Uncanny Aurality in Pontypool.” In Cinephile, Vol. 6 No. 2, Sound on Screen. The University of British Columbia Film Program
TECHIGAWARA, Mihoko (2003). Voices in Japanese Animation: A Phonetic Study of Vocal Stereotypes of Heroes and Villains in Japanese Culture. PhD dissertation. University of Victoria
WHITTINGTON, William (2007). Sound Design and Science Fiction. University of Texas Press
WHITTINGTON, William (2010). “Acoustic Infidelities: Sounding the Exchanges between J-Horror and H-Horror Remakes.” In Cinephile, Vol. 6 No. 1, Sound on Screen. The University of British Columbia Film Program