What would a Ken Burns documentary be without its measured, authoritative narration?
Coyote delivers hours of often dense, complex text — full of facts, figures, quotes, and grand unifying ideas — in a manner that Burns refers to as “God’s stenographer.”
Says Ken “Peter’s calm, cowboy-around-a-campfire timbre is basically the voice of America, at least within the orbit of PBS. I’ve always looked for a voice — quite frankly, and there’s no ego involved in this — that’s close to my voice. Not in timbre, not in sound, but in meaning. And no one has come closer to my voice in meaning than Peter. No one.”
Says Coyote “the only area where Ken and I have any kind of instinctive difference is my people are Jews and we’re minor key people. Ken is not. He wants zero performance. But, of course, he also wants me to reflect the gravity of the text when it’s grave, or catch an ironic note when it’s there. I don’t feel like I’m doing a performance. I always do them cold. I never read the scripts in advance.”