The Grain of the Voice

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The ‘Grain’ Cinema audience often finds the connection to a film by experiencing what actors or actresses are portraying, mainly through relating with the emotions being projected on screen. These emotions can be presented in many forms in the realm of acting, but the voice plays the biggest role in all of this. This could be the reason why many stars are being hailed for their voices throughout the history of film. When discussing about voices, one could only come to the conclusion of defining it as the spoken language; words that are released from one’s mouth. However, voices are more than just language, in fact voices and language are so different that Barthes seeks to find and explore the gap between these two elements in his essay The Grain of the Voice. It is this displacement that I want to outline, not with regard to the whole of music but simply to a part of vocal music (lied or melodie): the very precise space (genre) of the encounter between a language and a voice. I shall straightaway give a name to this signifier at the level of which, I believe, the temptation of ethos can be liquidated (and thus the adjective banished): the grain, the grain of the voice when the latter is in a dual posture, a dual production – of language and of music. (1977: 181) As the statement above suggest, the grain is a place where language and voice meet, the place where both intertwine creating a new space, as Barthes would explain, ‘the fringe of contact’ between voices and language.

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