Distributed throughout the world and analyzed in depth, Rembrandt's work is recognizable, although it still holds surprises. How, however, did his voice sound? The painter of the Golden Age was an excellent teacher whose students became famous on their own, with signatures such as Ferdinand Bol, Carel Fabritius or Willem Drost. He guided them carefully during the classes and his words have now been recreated with the help of artificial intelligence. A computer program has mixed the different expressions of his self-portraits with the studies of the curators of the Rijksmuseum on his character to reconstruct "the voice of Rembrandt" The result, which anyone can discover in several YouTube videos, is the somewhat nasal timbre of a male who speaks fast Dutch as in the seventeenth century.
The work, collected in several videos, is unique in its class because it applies biometrics to the recognition of the physical characteristics of Rembrandt and his behavioral traits in search of a voice close to his. It's just the reverse of what forensic experts are used to doing. They are responsible for rebuilding the face of the speaker, usually suspect of a crime, depending on the recordings of his voice. That is why Rita Singh, a scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (United States), admitted that she fell silent when the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam asked her what Rembrandt sounded like. They wanted to hear him, to add their voice to the commemoration, this year, of the 350th anniversary of his death.
Singh collaborates with the FBI and has pointed out that "there are hundreds of factors that contribute to the reconstruction of the voice". "With Rembrandt we do not know, for example, if he kept all his teeth, "he added. In this work we have taken into account his state of health and the peculiarities of his nose, throat, height and weight. His skull has also been measured over the years, a detail facilitated by the large number of self-portraits. "Although we must think that not everything is there; they are not photographs ", explains the expert. Once the information was compiled and analyzed, the pronunciation of the Golden Age had to be correct. The voice is robotic, but the University of Leiden has adapted, from the linguistic point of view, the current Dutch to the language spoken in the 17th century. . In the case of Rembrandt It was not dialect, "but the standard language of the time," according to its experts. Among other things, they think it said skilderdook (canvas) instead of schilderdoek, like now. Obtained the tone, the lexicon and even an approximation to how he breathed when speaking, can be heard explaining the mixture of colors, the basics of the sketch or his own vision of art. As if he were teaching his students in his workshop.
Jonathan Bikker, author of Rembrandt, biography of a rebel, he assures that "maybe he did not follow the rules and was elusive with his clients, but he was a warm man in his family relationships and very generous with his students".