My Favorite Men’s Voices

I’ve been enjoying male voices lately. It’s research, I swear—I’m only doing this because I am exploring how to write about the feeling their voices engender, with a view to using these in my writing.

It all started with Peter Firth. Someone said that his voice sounded “like the sun coming out from behind the clouds.” Beautiful image, but what does it mean? How does a voice sound like a picture? Still, the words stuck with me, and I just couldn’t let it go.

Too bad YouTube doesn’t have any clips of Peter reading poetry. I searched farther afield, and found this:

(“Yellowstone,” a stunning BBC nature documentary)

 and on, this:

(You can play the sample from the opening of the audiobook)

 Now I can see what the “sun coming out” comment meant—Peter’s voice has a warm, golden quality. It’s like honey, sweet and full of light. And there’s just the faintest suggestion of a whisper; a silky, confidential tone like he’s telling this (whatever it is) just to you. And I love the confident, easy way he explains Yellowstone’s unique geology, and reads Tess of the D’Urbervilles as if he’d lived it himself (then again, he kind of did, as he played Angel Clare in Roman Polanski’s version of the story).

 I was so pleased by my discovery. Voices that had color and flavor and texture, not because of the words they spoke but because of their very sound!

 Another male voice I enjoy belongs to Richard Armitage. Often described as dark and chocolatey, his deep baritone is a favorite of many fans.

 Here he is reading Samuel Richardson’s “Clarissa”

 For those who want to go even deeper and darker, Alan Rickman’s voice is like espresso—really hot and not sweet at all, and makes your heart beat faster. Here he is, reading Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”

And here’s another beautiful voice—Benedict Cumberbatch, reading Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale.” He’s got a deep and sonorous tone, clear and bright as the midnight sky. He’s going to make a great Smaug, because there’s something cold and brilliant in his voice.

 So there you have it—men with seductive, sensual voices. They come in all flavors.


9 thoughts on “My Favorite Men’s Voices

  1. This is such an interesting topic! We take for granted how people describe voices, usually nodding along, and thinking “that’s apt” but when you get down to it, what does it really mean?

    Peter Firth; I hadn’t noticed all of his vocal qualities while watching Spooks, but you are right about the whisper, and what that implies 🙂

    Let me just say how lovely it was revisting Clarissa again! I had not listened to it more than once (fantastic production, but depressing!) That clip really highlighted Richard’s range, both in tone, and emotional impact; seductive, sarcastic, almost in a swoon over his lady’s beauty, and able to switch (convincingly) to an entirely different character. I have been satisfied with his audiobook readings in a way that I have never been with any other favorite actor. I do try to be critical of the man, but I can’t help but notice that he just succeeds at everything he sets out to do! 😉 Oh, except for an American accent. Fail on that. But maybe he’s improving; it wasn’t too bad for the short duration we hear it in Captain America.

    I agree about Benedict and Smaug. Cold and brilliant is an excellent description!! Though he may give the dragon a bit more class than the lout deserves 🙂

    • @D.J. Isn’t R.A. supposed to be German in Capt America? I was kinda confused in that movie 😛
      And I love this post! As a singer I really appreciate voices (especially men’s, lol) and these 4 are great samples. One might be a fantastic actor but the voice can make or break the role. Thanks for this post! 🙂

      • Yeah, but he’s supposed to be pretending to be an American for about 4 minutes! I think he has a line or two in that accent, which I don’t remember cringing at. Since I don’t know the difference between a good German accent and a bad one, I can’t comment on that part of it. I wasn’t a fan of the movie as a whole. Started out good, but just sort of fizzled plotwise.

        Christian Bale as Batman springs to mind as a voice that sucks the life out of the role (I know that really isn’t the same thing we are talking about, but I just had to comment).

    • Glad you liked it, DarkJackal! I agree, Richard’s reading of Clarissa showed great emotional range. I also love, love, love his reading of Venetia. He’s divine as Damerel–there were moments there when I thought my audio CD would actually combust.
      No doubt as time goes by, he’ll improve his American accent–he works hard.
      And Peter Firth is one of my all-time favorite actors, and I’m looking forward to seeing (and hearing) him in new things.

      • Actually, I’m very happy that RA isn’t good at American accents (something he has acknowledged himself) because it means I won’t have to watch him play Americans! It’s completely selfish of me, but being an Anglophile, I’d rather be watching something British.

      • Yeah, even with Hugh Laurie’s wonderful American accent on “House” I’m always aware–at first–that he’s doing an accent. After a while I forget, but initially it’s a shock. I think it would be the same with RA. I’d be too busy listening for his natural accent and it would interfere.

  2. Thanks for the link to that video of RA reading poetry, oakenshield89! I hadn’t run across that before. I think he did pretty well with the American accent in that one. Too bad that poem is so pushing and hard-driving–I like to hear his voice sounding thoughtful and caressing.
    Oh, and as for voices on my “No” list–one would have to be Hayden Christiansen (Anakin Skywalker). Too bad, because he’s a good actor, but his voice is just…not.

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