Sunday, November 11, 2018

A quiet and compelling voice

Dallas Taylor recently did a Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast about sonic branding. I was taken by the voice of Walter Werzowa, founder of Musikvergnuegen and the creative behind the Intel Inside sound, among many others.

Wersowa speaks quietly and thoughtfully. His voice has a rough, slightly thin timbre. His passion and creativity are evident, but understated. For me, his Austrian accent evokes a cerebral exoticism. He knows what he’s talking about, but he doesn’t stress his expertise, in either sense of “stress”: he doesn’t get worked up about it, nor does he highlight it. Wersowa tells his stories with a hesitation that conveys humility. His words echo what his voice conveys; for example, by saying “Some composers on my team don't like when I say this, but I don't think writing a mnemonic is composing,” he both asserts his belief and recognizes that it isn’t the only way of seeing things. (He’s also implicitly asserting his dominance.)

Curiously, the only other Austrian I know, an academic at MSU, has a similarly quiet yet confident voice. Two datapoints don’t make a theory (though as a lapsed theoretical physicist, I’d contend that’s just a suggestion, not a rule ;-) but it makes me wonder whether there’s a self-effacing cadence that Austrian kids absorb as they grow up.

I was reminded of Wersowa when listening to Maxim Rysanov (viola) and Janine Jansen (violin) play JS Bach's  Two-Part Inventions, BWV 772-786, on a 2007 Decca recording. Listen, for example, to the Two-Part Invention no 15 in B minor (track 15 on the CD, sample on

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