Saturday, September 12, 2009

SOUNDS: Amber Benson - "Under Your Spell"

What to write about this song? It is all about Amber Benson's voice here. I particularly find pleasure in the way that she slightly shortens the word "right" (at the end of the line "something just isn't right"). I also think that the slightly subdued nature of her voice, and the fact that it is placed at the front of the mix, is particularly striking. Listen:

This is a beautiful song. Something that is particularly interesting is, as the character Tara, Amber speaks with a slight stutter. Of course, while singing, Tara does not stutter. How, then, is this weakness (if you will accept my reading of a stutter as a weakness) expressed?* Her voice is at the front of the mix but still seems somewhat subdued. It is a powerful but delicate voice. Barthes' "grain of the voice" comes to mind here (yes, again). I hear Amber's breath in the voice. Her throat "gets in the way," but it sounds nice. I don't really know how to explain it. Her words are clipped, and much of the singing points to her physical body: her throat, her lips and tongue. If you haven't listened to this song, I encourage you to track down a full version.

Let me know what you think.

* I should mention that Tara's stutter seems to be an indication of her timidity. Her discomfort in being around other people (in particular, Willow, who she loves) is expressed in her stutter. So, perhaps the general example of stuttering as a weakness is not really what I am suggesting.

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