It’s not every day you meet a future Disney character, but Brian Affolter may very well fit that bill.
“I want to be a voice-over artist when I graduate from here,” said Affolter, a junior at the University of Tennessee at Martin. “I can see myself doing characters from books, movies, TV shows, video games, Disney. Really, I love the idea that your voice can create a character. You don’t have to see what they look like; it’s just a voice.”
Affolter, from Brentwood, is studying broadcasting with a personal emphasis on performance. A minor in business administration rounds out his academic portfolio in hopes of one day using those additional skills to make his way in the voice-over and recording industries.
In addition to his regular academic curriculum, Affolter is also a University Scholar – the highest academic designation given on the UT Martin campus. University Scholars complete a special set of honors courses and a two-year, faculty-guided research project that serves as an undergraduate thesis, of sorts. Affolter is using his project time to learn the ins and outs of the audio production process by writing and producing his own music album.
“I don’t really know how to read and write music, so through it all I’m learning the language. It’s like I’m writing a book in a different language, but I’m learning that language as I go along,” he said. “Normally, when you think of music and writing it down, you think about the notes on the sheets. But there’s something called the National Number System that I’m learning about. There’s where, instead of writing notes, they use numbers. So when you need to change a key, it’s really easy to transpose in numbers instead of actual notes.”
Affolter has been singing privately for years, but this is his first foray into production and recording.
“There is a whole lot that goes into it, and going into (this project), I couldn’t even fathom all of those things,” he said. In addition to writing and charting original music, Affolter also needs to find musicians to learn his songs, book recording space and time with professional equipment, copyright his material and produce the final audio files.
“This could also help in my future career in case it’s a part where I need to sing,” he said. “Like in Disney animations, there’s a lot of singing. Usually, they will hire one (voice actor) for the singing and one for the voice, but I’m the best of both worlds, I suppose. You get two for the price of one.”
Affolter’s training in radio broadcasting and his new experiences with audio production combine well to serve his chosen professional goals. And who knows, maybe the voice of a future Prince Charming or Homer Simpson will have fond memories of his time among UT Martin’s finest.
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