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Author Archive: "Elena Passarello"

The Vox That Got Away

The first half-dozen essays I wrote for my book on the human voice followed what friends might see as predictably tomboyish interests: war cries, football sportscasters, Marlon Brando. I enjoyed the explosive tone the collection was taking; I was conducting interviews with Elvis impersonators and Screamo singers and politicians who frequently used the word "assclown." I certainly didn't intend to make the patron saint of Let Me Clear My Throat Judy Garland.

But five years later, here she is, waving from several dozen of the pages, butting into sections about German noise rockers and disaster movies. She even stars in her own long essay (on her legendary Carnegie Hall concert) at the core of the book. As if I totally planned on having Judy there the whole time. Like this whole burly project was put together just for her.

Judy originally showed up when I was researching an essay on the Wilhelm Scream, a mysterious sound effect that has been scored into hundreds of movies. At the time, I was making my way through films that featured Wilhelms — The Wild Bunch, Reservoir Dogs, Them! — and, according to ...

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