Gandalf and Pippin

The prompt

Ok, this may seem random and like a waste, but I promise it’s not. Our radio show has more characters than we have actors, so I wanted to try my hand at editing voices so they sound like two different people before offering this up as something we could do. I think it worked out pretty well, although there is a little distortion and I would have to keep playing with it to get it perfect.

The quote is from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien. It’s the point where pretty much all hope is lost and Gandalf, the wizard mentor character who has already died once, and Pippin, the comic relief who’s not much more than a child, are coming to terms with the fact that they were not going to get out of the coming battle alive. It’s a fairly sweet moment between two characters who for the rest of the story have not gotten along.

If you know the lore (and I mean REALLY know the lore, this stuff isn’t easy to find) you’ll know that the afterlife Gandalf is describing is the afterlife that he saw when he died and where he expects to return when he dies again. This is because he is a Maia, a demigod of that world. He is immortal, he can only go between what I’m calling the astral plane and the real world. Pippin is a hobbit; he’s mortal. He won’t see the afterlife Gandalf is describing. (Tolkien was Catholic so Pippin and all the other mortal characters go to judgement.) Gandalf likely knew that, but couldn’t think of anything else to say to the hobbit they both thought was about to die. I tried to capture that bittersweetness in the music, a stock piece I found a long time ago called “Soft Horror Piano Drone.” I didn’t think it was particularly horrific, I thought it was more sad and maybe threatening or foreboding than scary.

I put the music in Audacity, where I already had my voices. I recorded Pippin’s track first, and then Gandalf’s. For Pippin’s voice, I pitched it up a bit and sped it up some, as well as increasing the bass a little (to make it sound more masculine) and increasing the treble a lot (to make it sound smaller). I also did an accent to differentiate him better. It’s terrible but I’m calling it a Shire accent. For Gandalf’s, I pitched it down significantly, sped it up a little so it sounded more natural and increased the bass to make it more masculine. I also added a slight echo to make him sound a little more ethereal. Then I played with the pauses so it sounded right with the music. That put me at about 20 seconds, so I cut the music down (it’s a two-and-something minute piece) and had it fade out. I ended up with a pretty neat effect, I think. They definitely don’t sound like the same person recording it back to back. If I were to use this again, I don’t think I would make the differentiation quite as dramatic, less is more I think. At least in this case.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *