I’ve added a bunch of sound effects to the narration, where I think they contribute or where it’s exceptionally fun to do so. :) I even have a few “themes” (most notably the Headmasters Office Theme). But after some thought I decided to leave out the Phoenix’s Song. It is magically beautiful, it touches everyone in a way that their most loved musical piece would, except more so. And it heals just to listen to it. Even if I chose what I thought was the most beautiful song in the world, that would only work for me – for most other people it wouldn’t have the same significance, and they would just hear notes. It is literally impossible to do the Phoenix’s Song justice with mere mortal music, and so I decided to leave it as described in the narration only, and let the listener’s imagination fill in whatever they consider most aweing. I could only interfere with that.
I’ve never paid too much attention to supporting characters in the fiction I consume, unless they are extremely exaggerated to get my attention (like Chewbacca for example). As such, I didn’t really have any permanent voices for Ernie, Anthony, Terry, Dean, Zabini, etc. I just changed my voice a little and went forward. They were NPCs, I thought the names were random and didn’t expect them to reappear. Boy was I wrong. Eventually I settled on accents for several of them, which helped me remember because I could associate the name with an ethnicity (Dean = cowboy, Zabini = Russian, Seamus = Irish), and for those that I couldn’t I managed to find someone else to do the voice for me. That meant that when I was putting in other people’s voices in this episode I actually had to re-record myself doing Dean and Zabini correctly and paste that in. It seemed… silly to do so. But there it is.
I’ve learned a fair bit of culture from HPMoR. I was not familiar with “To A Louse” before this, nor with Churchill’s “Victory At All Costs” speech quoted in 19. This is always a sign of good fiction, in my opinion. I should learn something new when reading a book, no matter how silly or fantastic it is. Some people may say it’s the sign of a poor education system, but I doubt that. One can’t learn everything in school, much of it has to be absorbed in other ways. And besides, who’s to say I wasn’t just sick that day?
When this episode came out, Portal was still big. Whenever the author of a note or letter is known, I read it in his/her voice. At the start of the chapter the author is unknown and I didn’t want to spoil anything. Fortunatly, the Quotes Quill’s writing is described as obviously not handwritten – “perfectly regular, hence artificial.” The choice of GLaDOS-voice from there was easy.
Quirrell’s voice was also easy. I knew from the start that I wanted him to sound like Magneto from the 90s X-Men Cartoon. Because he is a bad-ass and extremely competent. Proud, intelligent, ruthless, and powerful. The ideal of the Russian Strong Man Dictator. That was the image I pulled into my mind every time I spoke as him (and still do). Turns out that my memory was wrong – I remembered Magneto as being that awesome, so I remembered his voice as being very deep and resonant. Turns out it isn’t so much. I prefer my mistaken memory, and will continue with deep-Quirrell.
The voice of the Sorting Hat came to me quickly. In years past there was an animated Moses movie, which I didn’t bother to watch, but I managed to hear an interview with someone involved in its production. They were speaking about the difficulty of coming up with a decent Voice Of God during the Burning Bush scene. The “old American patriarch” voice certainly wouldn’t do, because this movie was aimed at the broader public rather than just fundamentalist American Christians. But how do you do God’s voice then? You can’t use a male or a female voice without assigning god a gender, you can’t make him sound like any particular nationality or ethnicity, etc. They tried layering many voices of many actors together for an all-inclusive deity voice, but apparently it ended up sounding awful.
Eventually they settled on simply taking Moses’s own voice and echoing it back to him. Which I personally thought was brilliant, and appropriate on several levels (pssst.. He only exists in your head! ;)) So when Harry is talking to a very powerful entity that borrows his own brain hardware in order to extrapolate what his sorting volition would be… well hell, what it should sound like was easy!