The VO Social theme tune session screenshot

Sonic Storytelling: Creating The Voiceover Social Theme Tune

By now I hope you’ve listened to our first Voiceover Social podcast. If not, I’m very disappointed with you. The podcast featured the first play of the new podcast theme. This is the story of how it was made and all the thought processes behind it.

The need for a re-brand

On taking over the Voiceover Socials and the podcast we knew there would be a re-brand, both visually for the website and socials, and audibly for the podcast.

This is almost inevitable as they both need to reflect Helen and me and not Nic and Leah as they previously had. This isn’t a comment at all of the way they did things, it’s just a fact of life that no two people will approach a creative endeavour in the same way and we needed the social’s branding to reflect what we want to bring to it.

On top of that the old branding was put together before anyone really knew what The VO Social could become and so a refresh was overdue in the light of where the socials are. In both the visual and audio branding that has been put together, Helen and I were both very keen to acknowledge everything that Nic and Leah have achieved and keep them present in the comings and goings on.

Before a note was played

From the second we knew we were taking over the podcast my mind was whirring over the process of creating a new theme. I am a musician, so grabbing an off-the-peg piece of library music seemed like a non-starter.

The big issue was that I’m a very out of practice musician. My last musical project drew to a close a number of years ago (Helen and I played as a duo called ‘Bottle Rocket’ if you’re interested). So putting together a theme with very rusty fingers was going to be a bigger task than it should have been. A lot of my early thoughts were about how to go about it and what musical style it should be. This was quite a large personal obstacle for me to overcome.

Eventually, my thought processes lead me to thinking that I needed to create a theme that reflected the values and togetherness of the Voiceover Social community as well as a better reflection of my role in the industry, and plans were put into motion.

The concept

My plan for the theme was that every component of the tune should be produced by the human voice. This seems fitting for a bunch of voiceovers. I searched the internet for vocal samples I could use as I thought further and I found some interesting audio files. But it needed to be more. So I then decided that apart from the bare bones of the track (for which I used some of the samples I’d found) I’d see if I could get some audio from the Voiceover Social community and make as much of the theme as possible from what they sent me.

I also decided that I wanted the structure of the theme to be really basic, so opted for probably one of the most basic chord patterns – 4 chords – tonic, relative minor, forth then fifth. This simplicity I think hooks you in, but doesn’t distract from the sounds you’re hearing. This is a really common progression in popular music. Although the exact order does get swapped around a bit

The bare bones

I had 2 audio files from the internet – the beatboxing and Mongolian throat singing. I layered them up and manipulated them so they were in time together. I also grabbed some clips of Nic and Leah saying ‘The Voiceover Social’ from a couple of past episodes of the podcast and I put those in. I then played the chords over the top and had a listen.

It seemed to work, so the next stage was to ask the community to record the notes of the chords so I could replace my playing and some vocal noises. So I hit social media with the request. I posted an audio file to sing along with which was just a series of ascending notes rather than any chordal sequences so as to not give anything away. I gave instructions that the notes could be Laaaa’d, hummed, OOOOOd or whatever the voice artist felt like. This is to keep the sound and production a bit loose. Listen carefully and you’ll hear one voiceover clucking their note!

The VO Social theme tune session screenshot

Audio in spades

I kind of had a couple of ideas of how I might be able to edit and structure things depending on how many people sent me audio. So putting things together was on hold for a couple of weeks while I waited for people to send their audio to me.

I was a bit worried about how the idea would go down – I didn’t really explain anything, I just asked for people to record the audio for The Voiceover Social and left it at that.

I was quite stunned by the response I got. I was hoping for half a dozen people to record for me, I ended up with 25. This meant I had plenty to play around with and I needed to rethink how I was going to arrange the singing of the chords.

I tried using everyone singing all the notes, but it sounded too much, so I ended up having 4 groups of singers singing a chord each.

And once that was done, I could add the silly noises that had been sent in. The noises are the key to making the piece work. I had no idea what I’d get sent, so until I received audio I had no idea if my plan would work. Finding the perfect places for them was great fun.

And once the mix was done, it was chopped up to create opening/closing credits as well as stings and feature intros. It then had its debut in the handover episode of the podcast where it nearly made Leah cry.

The finished theme tune

It makes me smile

I had a lot of fun putting this together I’m really happy with how the theme turned out. I think it really typifies how generous and community spirited the voiceover world is. The community has come together, Nic and Leah are present and people are demonstrating their vocal skills in a silly way reflecting the tone of the podcast.

I’m 90% sure that every person who sent me audio is in there – if you can’t hear yourself you’re probably in one of the chords somewhere.

The contributors

So I need to say a big thank you to all the contributors – Alice King, Ally Murphy, Ana Clements, Andy Talbot, David Holmes, Della Phillips, Diane Brooks, Faye Dicker & Suki, Gregory Dwyer, Gregory Mitchell, JD Gibson, Laura Brydon, Machteld van der Gaag, Mark Ryes, Melanie Crawley, Natalie Husdan, Noni Lewis, Paul Brown, Rebecca Fenwick, Richard Hainsworth, Sarah Borges, Simon Fellows, Stephanie Matard, Tom Hillenbrand.

If you sent me audio and your name isn’t on the list let me know and I‘ll add you in.

Find The Voiceover Social

Here’s where you can find the visual re-branding for The Voiceover Social.

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