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Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional

GUEST,RedCloseCurling 26 Apr 13 - 04:09 PM
Dave the Gnome 26 Apr 13 - 05:25 PM
Joe_F 26 Apr 13 - 08:45 PM
GUEST,Dawleyman 26 Apr 13 - 09:20 PM
GUEST,JHW 27 Apr 13 - 05:24 AM
John MacKenzie 27 Apr 13 - 05:37 AM
Ross Campbell 27 Apr 13 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,Dave Hunt (Dawleyman) 27 Apr 13 - 08:04 AM
Marje 27 Apr 13 - 09:52 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Apr 13 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,CS 27 Apr 13 - 03:30 PM
Lighter 27 Apr 13 - 04:01 PM
John MacKenzie 27 Apr 13 - 04:44 PM
Lighter 27 Apr 13 - 05:13 PM
Gallus Moll 27 Apr 13 - 08:01 PM
Allan Conn 28 Apr 13 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,RedCloseCurling 29 Apr 13 - 01:49 AM
Marje 29 Apr 13 - 08:07 AM
John MacKenzie 29 Apr 13 - 08:15 AM
Anne Neilson 29 Apr 13 - 01:30 PM
Rumncoke 30 Apr 13 - 05:12 AM
Mr Happy 30 Apr 13 - 12:02 PM
Lighter 30 Apr 13 - 12:05 PM
Jim McLean 30 Apr 13 - 12:08 PM
Megan L 30 Apr 13 - 12:24 PM
Jim McLean 30 Apr 13 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,Peter 30 Apr 13 - 12:59 PM
CET 01 May 13 - 08:34 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: GUEST,RedCloseCurling
Date: 26 Apr 13 - 04:09 PM

Dear Mudcatters

Thank you, all who helped with suggestions and information about cross-dressing men in traditional music! I am now blessed with an abundance of material.

I'll be performing some of these songs in concert series as part of a project on this topic, and now, being new to this world, I am wondering if anyone can point me in the direction of a pronunciation/accent/diction expert who can help me do these texts justice.

The texts I'm currently seeking assistance with are selected verses from Brown Robin (old Scottish, I believe?), The Duke of Atholl's Nurse (Also Old Scottish?) and The Crafty Maid/The Batchellour Outwitted ("Broadside Ballad" - I'm not sure what that means in terms of origin, or accent - the text is more decipherable than in the Scottish ballads, but I have no inkling as to what accent is required).

I'd be so pleased if someone with a firm rooting in knowledge of the accents and dialects represented in these old tunes could help me - by recording themselves speaking slowly through the texts?

A small cash gift of thanks could be involved!

Much appreciated.

Isaiah


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 Apr 13 - 05:25 PM

You are completely scuppered with the Scottish dialect. As Victoria Wood once said - All the place names are spelled Ecclefechan and pronounced Kircudbright!

:D tG


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Joe_F
Date: 26 Apr 13 - 08:45 PM

And all the people are timeless flames who have taken Auchtermuchty for a name.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: GUEST,Dawleyman
Date: 26 Apr 13 - 09:20 PM

Why on earth would you want to sing songs in any but your own accent? - leave Scots songs to the Scots etc.....


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: GUEST,JHW
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 05:24 AM

I would like to be able to sing a Scots song with it's correct pronunciation. My accent is Yorkshire+Durham, fairly Northern, but I am not Scottish.

Example 'Sheath and Knife'
"The broom blooms bonny, the broom blooms fair...
and we'll never go down to the broom anymair"

If I don't sing anymair it doesn't rhyme. But once I sing anymair rather than anymore should I be singing gang doon rather than go down, faither rather than father etc. But sung by a non-Scot this would be a mockery.
I don't know the answer.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 05:37 AM

Weel, ye could aye try, "an' we'll nivver gang doon, tae the broom ony mair."
mair and fair rhyme in my book BTW.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 06:30 AM

Tony Rose, Maddy Prior and Eliza Carthy all managed to sing "Sheath and Knife" without aping a Scots accent, and without tripping up at the lack of rhyme between "fair" and "more". Try it.

Their respective lyrics here:-

http://mainlynorfolk.info/tony.rose/songs/sheathandknife.html

Ross


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: GUEST,Dave Hunt (Dawleyman)
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 08:04 AM

Thanks Ross - my point exactly!   why pretend to be Scots, Irish, Whatever,..... just use your normal accent - songs don't HAVE to rhyme!...it's still possible to tell the story, which is the important bit.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Marje
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 09:52 AM

If you really have no inkling about Scottish accents (and there are various distinct Scottish accents) you'll just make a fool of yourself if you try to fake it. Much better to sing in something close to your own accent. You can tweak some of the words to help the rhymes along if you like, that can sound OK and avoids drawing attention to the fact that it's a "translation".

Even Scots people who exaggerate the accent and dialect in an attempt to sing in a broad Scots which is totally different from their everyday speech can sound contrived and uncomfortable. If you're not Scottish, don't even think about it.

Some of the old ballads exist in English and in Scots variants, so it may still be reasonably authentic to sing them in a non-Scots accent.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 03:03 PM

"you'll just make a fool of yourself if you try to fake it. "
Couldn't agree more - I'm an ex-Pat Brit living in Ireland and find myself somewhat embarrassed to hear one of my kinsfolk attempting an 'Oirish' accent - as hospitable as the Irish are, you should hover around in the background to hear the piss being taken big-time.
If you take the trouble, most Scots ballads Anglicise beautifully - I sing about forty of them (or used to).
Where they don't you can usually find a version that will - Bronson's great for that.
The problem is when certain words or phrases are an integral part of the beauty or the rhyming of the ballad, plouter - coulter - smoor - spey; things like that, but you can't sing 'em all.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 03:30 PM

Some gentle (not full on) anglicisation works I think. Just enough to enable you to sing the song comfortably without entirely losing the poetry of the thing OR doing a funny southern mimicry of scots dialect. Just tweak some of the words a bit so they flow nicely for you, or sing from an already tweaked version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Lighter
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 04:01 PM

Yeah, but don't forget that unless you're singing to real Scots, your audience will only have their fading recollection of old movies to judge your accent by anyway.

There's at least one well-known American soprano whose Scots accent is simply awful. She's quite popular in spite of it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 04:44 PM

Two words, well maybe four and a half.
Mel Gibson, Dick van Dyke


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Lighter
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 05:13 PM

Was Mel any better when he did Strine?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 08:01 PM

Scotty (?the engineer?)in Star Trek had a pseudo Scottish accent --

I agree that the song or ballad should be sung in your own voice / accent, and if need be adapted/adjusted to suit- - it is the story, the message that is important, and the ballad has undoubtedly undergone many alterations over the years and perhaps centuries.
You should sing what feels comfortable and 'right' to you.

And as Marie says, there are lots of different Scottish accents / pronunciation / words / spellings - perhaps if you could learn by ear from a singer from a certain area, the song would come over better? Otherwise - use your own accent!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Allan Conn
Date: 28 Apr 13 - 04:24 PM

"Much better to sing in something close to your own accent" Absolutely especially when you come from the north-east of England anyway. You don't get much closer to a Scottish accent than that without it actually being Scottish. Classic example is Bobby Shaftoe. I know it isn't but it could easily be a Scottish song. Likewise the Unthanks sound just as natural as the Scottish versions when doing Betsy Bell in their own accent. Had they put on Scottish accents then I imagine it would have been a bit different.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: GUEST,RedCloseCurling
Date: 29 Apr 13 - 01:49 AM

Hi everyone

Thanks for your input. I've been approaching this from the point of view of a classical singer - the rest of the pieces on the program are in French, German and Italian - and I wouldn't sing a piece in public unless I'd worked the language with a native speaker to try to sound as close to native as possible. The same goes with an accent in English, I wouldn't dare just wing it. The issue with doing it in my own accent is that I'm Canadian, and the text is full of lines like "Ye'll get twa sichts o your leman" and "'T' is pitten my head in sick a steer I my bowr I canna be." - which I feel may sound equally ridiculous in my hockey and doonuts accent, eh?

Some of these lines I wouldn't even know how to begin Canadianizing... and because of the time period in which they take place it wouldn't feel right anyways. Without study it will just end up being lamely mid-Atlantic. However, it might be best to go to a linguist for what I need. If only I knew any!

Isaiah


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Marje
Date: 29 Apr 13 - 08:07 AM

What you're talking about, then, is not just an accent or an occasional dialect word, but something that is arguably a different language from English.

The trouble with full-blown Scots is that English-speakers have the feeling they ought to understand it, and get irritated when they can't(this happens to genuine Scots singing in Scots too, although some of them quite enjoy getting up the noses of the English!). This doesn't apply to French or German, which the audience either understand or don't, but somehow Scots goes down less well, particularly if the listeners sense or know that this language is not coming naturally to you.

Scots speakers will spot the fakery right away, and also get irritated by it.

Sorry to be so negative, but I can't really think of a solution!

Marje


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 29 Apr 13 - 08:15 AM

'T' is pitten my head in sick a steer I my bowr I canna be."
I feel you need to translate, rather than try to do it in a cod Scots accent
A rough translation would be.
T has put my head in such a spin,(that) in my bed I cannot be.

Sounds pretty damned poetic to me ;)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 29 Apr 13 - 01:30 PM

I'm with John on this - either find an English version of the ballad (far less likely to have dialect words) or rewrite some of the more archaic Scots e.g. 'Ye'll get twa sichts o your leman' = You'll get two sights of your sweetheart/true love.

I work with a group of people who want to sing ballads, but have exactly the same problems as you have -- our bottom line is to understand the story first of all, find a set of words that you like, find a tune that seems to be a good match for the emotion of the story..... and then comes the biggest job which is to tweak the words and/or the tune so that the text sits tidily on the melody and sounds like the way you would speak it, with emphases in the proper places.

Hope that doesn't sound too daunting, because it's very rewarding when it works -- but it's a very different approach from classical music, where the composer has determined pace and dynamics in advance and has matched melody notes to text syllables in a way that can't be altered.

Good luck with the project.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Rumncoke
Date: 30 Apr 13 - 05:12 AM

Over the years I have seen songs I sing written down with such an exaggeration of the style of speech that I scarcely recognised them, but all the words were there - just with the pronunciation done in a ferocious manner.

If it is not natural for a singer to sing 'thu flou-ors oh the fourst aah aaah weyed awahh' then singing 'the flowers of the forest are all withered away' is going to convey far more of the original meaning, to everybody.

I do retain words on the edge of understanding - such as bower - rather than altering the sense.

I realise from time to time that I have failed to realise I should be mangling words into rhymes - I sing the Broom blooms bonny and never even tried to rhyme fair and more.

Only when a musician tries to accompany my singing do I realise just how dangerous those little dots and lines on the page are. My declaration that the words are more important than their quavers and crotchets is usually met with a 'deer in the headlights' expression, or a miffed pack up and leaving.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Mr Happy
Date: 30 Apr 13 - 12:02 PM

Why not do like in operatic concerts? - they often put a translation of sorts in the programme, especially if the production's in italian, German, Spanish etc


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Lighter
Date: 30 Apr 13 - 12:05 PM

Not to mention the fact that if you're singing bel canto, your audience won't be expecting completely everyday pronunciations anyway, in any language.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Jim McLean
Date: 30 Apr 13 - 12:08 PM

I don't really think the translation is a problem, it's the Bel Canto type of delivery I can't stand. The way Burns' songs are sung by some'classical' singers makes me want tae boak.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Megan L
Date: 30 Apr 13 - 12:24 PM

It wid be a poor world if we aw sangs the same sangs the same wey and we have always had fine tenors in Scotland who sang the traditional scots songs in a classical way and brought great enjoyment to many.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Jim McLean
Date: 30 Apr 13 - 12:35 PM

Megan, Kenneth McKellar could do a fine job on Burns material but he, in my opinion, was the exception that proved the rule.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 30 Apr 13 - 12:59 PM

If you want to sing something written in broad Doric you are going to be stuck. Most ballads will have versions from the borders or from England which will be a lot easier.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: CET
Date: 01 May 13 - 08:34 AM

"Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pronunciation Help: Scottish Traditional
From: Lighter - PM
Date: 27 Apr 13 - 04:01 PM

Yeah, but don't forget that unless you're singing to real Scots, your audience will only have their fading recollection of old movies to judge your accent by anyway."

Not true. I am no kind of a Scot, but I can easily spot a fake Scots accent. I have heard enough genuine Scots singing and speaking throughout my life that I know the real thing when I hear it. In any case, a contrived accent will sound wrong no matter how familiar the audience is with genuine Scots speech.

It isn't impossible for a non-Scot to sing in a Scottish accent, but it's usually wrong. You have to start with a very good ear, which you may or may not have. You also need to have listened to a lot of Scots singers. Also, some songs are much harder than others. It sounds like the OP has picked some of the hardest repertoire possible.

You can't really compare what Isaiah is trying to do with classical singing. By the time an operatic singer steps on the stage to sing something from Carmen or Eugene Onegin he or she will likely have had years of intensive vocal training and listening to the very best native singers. A wonky accent also won't matter as much with opera. Listen to Franco Corelli sing in French for example.

Don't give up on Scots folksongs but pick repertoire that you can sing in your own voice, and that you can make your own.


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