When composer Matthew Van Ness commits to a bit, he doesn’t half-ass it, even a little. Here he is, singing every single instrument and choral part in John Williams’ “Duel Of The Fates” from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The hooded stuff at the beginning is funny, and the overall effect is very cool, but what we’re really delighted by is his commitment to making sure each and every oboe, trombone, and bassoon is accounted for, and for singing that lone piccolo part as if his life depended on it.
It should be noted that he does not have a seven-octave vocal range. Here’s a comment he left on the video, just to make that plain:
Hey guys! I just want to make it clear that obviously the range of the orchestra is significantly larger than the range of the human voice, so for the very high and low bits I did pitch shift my voice to get it there. Anyways I hope you enjoy the video!
What’s cool about videos like these is that, in addition to being fun and weird, it allows the viewer to see and hear exactly how intricate compositions like “Duel Of The Fates” can be. It matters that there are two bassoons and a contrabassoon. It matters that there are four trombones. Sure, it’s a fun internet gag, but it’s also a good little musical lesson. Win-win.
This isn’t the first time Van Ness has diligently, earnestly committed to making his way through the bassoon parts of famous compositions, one “ooo” and “bummmmm” at a time. Here’s his take on the Avengers theme:
And a somewhat better-known Star Wars theme:
He also wrote a lush arrangement for this auto-tuned dog. The human-voice-as-orchestra videos are obviously very labor-intensive and the result is impressive, but if we’re honest, this one wins.
Good girl, Maggie. Good work, Matthew.
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