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The Ultimate Numbers Game

When it comes to music it’s all about the numbers. Tempo, notes of the scale, double stops, triads, minor sevenths, so on, and so forth. To the layperson it might as well be algebraic equations. And in a sense, it is.

Music is a universal language with its own customs and traditions. In it’s written form, music leaves no question unanswered. It leaves no doubt as to the composer’s intent. Of course, there’s room for interpretation. But at the end of the day, an eighth note is an an eighth note. A dotted sixteenth is a dotted sixteenth. A half note is a half note. And the notes had better be in tune and add up to equal the beats per measure.

Many will recall NYC’s famed music venue CBGB; or perhaps Tulsa’s legendary Cain’s Ballroom. I mention these icons because even in music’s more improvisational forms where sheet music is often an after thought or hardly a thought at all; adherence to customs, structure, and tradition is still important. However, musical vitality and innovation demand that boundaries be explored and limits be tested. Charley Patton, Link Wray, and Jesse Ed Davis are just a few pioneers that pushed the envelope.

There is no denying the musicality of the spoken word. However, the written word is just so many notes on a page until someone shakes some life into it. Herein lies the challenge for the actor. The additional task for the voice actor is to do so without the benefit of physical movement. A lilting inflection. Changes in volume and tempo. The formality of narration verses the extemporaneous conversational tone of dialog. The subtext below the surface of the page. These tools and more are the numbers required for the actor to calculate the equation for creating a believable character.

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