Friday, June 21, 2019

Was "the Droopy voice" artificially produced?

Never thought of this before--I mean, why not assume it was naturally-produced, and Bill Thompson was just folding over his larynx in some way to get that distinctive thirsty-scratchy kind of rasp.  (Originally known as Fibber McGee and Molly's Wallace Wimple, and also appearing as Disney's forest ranger J Audobon Woodlore.)

But it's a difficult-- even impossible-- voice to approximate, much less copy.  It starts way up in the sinuses-- you can tell from how it resonates, "n"s come through pretty clearly-- but the sinuses also sound like they're stopped up.  In other words, we shouldn't be hearing much at all, like he's talking through a sponge.  It should not be a clearly-articulated stream of words.  But it is.  In fact, it has a charming, mellow sound.  How did he do it?  

Impressions (like John Stewart's) stand out because of how much they don't sound like Droopy; they just can't combine the depth of resonance with that adenoidal effect. The sheer difficulty is reflected in the repeated failure of MGM Studios to find someone else to voice The Droop.  None of the non-Thompson Droopies are even close. Anyone can do a little Milquetoasty whine like that.  Besides, Droopy didn't whine.  He was actually pretty stoic.

Bill Thompson was a great voice man.  People still say "That ain't the way I heered it!" without even knowing it was originally his line.  And for years I thought it was Percy Helton as Mr Smee in Peter Pan.  

(Being able to do a Percy Helton impression is quite an accomplishment in itself.)

But it seems reasonable that Thompson, as a radio-struck kid in the 1920's, dreamed of making a living with his voice, and probably sent away for one of those Ventrilo "throw your voice" things in the comic books.

A Ventrilo-like device:

Or, he might have used a swazzle or "Punch Whistle":
Named for Punch the puppet.  A reed suspended in a sleeve, placed in the mouth to produce whistles or whistling speech.  

My theory is, he had a Ventrilo on the back of his tongue where it'd obscure his sinuses, and found some way to talk around it, sounding more or less like a normal person.

We'll probably never know.  But don't try it at home.  

Friday, June 14, 2019

CURTIS8516: Mall Music Muzak - Mall Of 1974

Today's weird Internet find: 38 minutes of actual 1970's shopping mall muzak, rescued from videos, records and Spiro Agnew's cassette collection.

link to the Internet Archive

This might be the best: The Fountain of Life overflows with reverb,  Fascinatingly decrepit and flatulent.  Kind of like the 70's.