Two weeks since Alan Rickman’s death, and the world is still feeling the ongoing ripples of sadness at the loss of such a formidable talent. We thought we’d add to the recognition with a specific nod to one of his most notable gifts, his voice.
A voice described in recent weeks as ‘perfect’, and one that for anyone who knows of him, will usually conjure up the face to match the voice. It is a rare thing in an actor to have so distinctive a voice that one remembers it almost as well as his face... But some make it to that hallowed status, and Alan Rickman was certainly one of them. So what made his communication so special?
We believe it is the following that made it quite so extraordinary:
His voice hums, it has layers and resonance, like a high quality instrument might. No tinny thinness, but a reverberating honeyed, multi-tonality that feels full of meaning. When asked how his voice came to be, he attributed the spectacular resonance to his use of Alexander Technique, priming his body so it was the ultimate instrument.
His was perfect, precise and clear - like a warm knife through butter. Every vowel was delighted in, swam through, as his honeyed tones would drawl and weave its way through sounds. And then his consonants, crisp, pert, efficient, slicing and dicing, so you just had to listen to him to feel a ripple of emotion, a certain poetic and rhythmic pleasure in his very shaping and formation of words, like they were tasty morsels. For an excellent example of this, watch him performing Becket in a bin.
There are not so many actors who you could be guaranteed to pick from a voice line up. But he was one of them. From clear almost choral highs, to gravelly spine tingling lows, his was a distinctive and thrilling voice. His acclaimed role, for 7 years as professor Snape, has given the classic villain a particularly delicious edge for children and adults alike. He will be sorely missed.
Please enjoy some of our favourite Alan Rickman clips and look out for the resonance, articulation and distinctiveness that make them quite so wonderful!