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Singing in Different Accents/Dialects

Rabblerouser 07 Aug 13 - 01:22 AM
Bert 07 Aug 13 - 01:38 AM
Joe Offer 07 Aug 13 - 01:38 AM
Bert 07 Aug 13 - 01:46 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 13 - 02:29 AM
Rabblerouser 07 Aug 13 - 02:30 AM
Amergin 07 Aug 13 - 02:49 AM
r.padgett 07 Aug 13 - 02:50 AM
mg 07 Aug 13 - 03:15 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 13 - 03:34 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 07 Aug 13 - 03:57 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 13 - 04:00 AM
GUEST,Don Wise 07 Aug 13 - 04:32 AM
GUEST,SteveT 07 Aug 13 - 05:21 AM
GUEST,SteveT 07 Aug 13 - 05:21 AM
Mr Happy 07 Aug 13 - 06:00 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 13 - 06:03 AM
Rabblerouser 07 Aug 13 - 06:08 AM
Rabblerouser 07 Aug 13 - 06:22 AM
Mr Happy 07 Aug 13 - 06:43 AM
Phil Cooper 07 Aug 13 - 09:26 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 07 Aug 13 - 10:51 AM
Mr Happy 07 Aug 13 - 11:34 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 07 Aug 13 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 07 Aug 13 - 02:13 PM
Bill D 07 Aug 13 - 02:18 PM
DMcG 07 Aug 13 - 02:31 PM
Amergin 07 Aug 13 - 03:19 PM
Amergin 07 Aug 13 - 03:20 PM
dick greenhaus 07 Aug 13 - 03:34 PM
Noreen 07 Aug 13 - 05:59 PM
GUEST 07 Aug 13 - 06:04 PM
Joe Offer 07 Aug 13 - 06:13 PM
Bill D 07 Aug 13 - 07:52 PM
Fred Maslan 08 Aug 13 - 12:06 AM
michaelr 08 Aug 13 - 01:32 AM
GUEST,Rev Bayes 08 Aug 13 - 05:23 AM
Steve Gardham 08 Aug 13 - 07:43 AM
Gibb Sahib 08 Aug 13 - 08:29 AM
clueless don 08 Aug 13 - 08:52 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 08 Aug 13 - 09:11 AM
GingerDave 09 Aug 13 - 06:45 AM
Big Al Whittle 09 Aug 13 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Auldtimer 09 Aug 13 - 08:00 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Aug 13 - 08:36 PM
GUEST,eldergirl 09 Aug 13 - 09:23 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 10 Aug 13 - 03:45 AM
Big Al Whittle 10 Aug 13 - 04:00 AM
Bert 10 Aug 13 - 07:45 AM
Richard Mellish 11 Aug 13 - 03:24 AM
Paul Reade 11 Aug 13 - 04:28 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 11 Aug 13 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 11 Aug 13 - 07:39 AM
Richard Mellish 11 Aug 13 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 11 Aug 13 - 11:16 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Aug 13 - 12:56 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 11 Aug 13 - 03:58 PM
Gibb Sahib 11 Aug 13 - 08:08 PM
GUEST,eldergirl 11 Aug 13 - 08:14 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Aug 13 - 03:26 AM
Gibb Sahib 12 Aug 13 - 05:05 AM
Bert 12 Aug 13 - 05:30 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Aug 13 - 05:48 AM
Phil Edwards 12 Aug 13 - 07:28 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Aug 13 - 08:27 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 12 Aug 13 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,Eliza 12 Aug 13 - 02:01 PM
meself 12 Aug 13 - 05:00 PM
mg 12 Aug 13 - 05:12 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 12 Aug 13 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,JTT 12 Aug 13 - 08:01 PM
Don Firth 12 Aug 13 - 08:09 PM
Big Al Whittle 12 Aug 13 - 11:57 PM
Gibb Sahib 13 Aug 13 - 01:32 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 13 Aug 13 - 02:38 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Aug 13 - 03:25 AM
mg 13 Aug 13 - 03:40 AM
Tattie Bogle 13 Aug 13 - 04:10 AM
GUEST,Don Wise 13 Aug 13 - 04:36 AM
Gutcher 13 Aug 13 - 04:58 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 13 Aug 13 - 05:27 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 13 Aug 13 - 05:51 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Aug 13 - 05:55 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Aug 13 - 06:09 AM
GUEST,SteveT 13 Aug 13 - 07:39 AM
Steve Gardham 13 Aug 13 - 09:36 AM
Tootler 13 Aug 13 - 09:57 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Aug 13 - 11:51 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Aug 13 - 12:15 PM
Big Al Whittle 13 Aug 13 - 12:18 PM
Gutcher 13 Aug 13 - 01:04 PM
GUEST,eldergirl, again 13 Aug 13 - 01:38 PM
Mrrzy 13 Aug 13 - 04:57 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Aug 13 - 05:03 PM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 13 Aug 13 - 06:00 PM
Tootler 13 Aug 13 - 06:31 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Aug 13 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,eldergirl 13 Aug 13 - 08:15 PM
Rob Naylor 13 Aug 13 - 10:37 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 13 - 03:28 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 14 Aug 13 - 03:52 AM
Gutcher 14 Aug 13 - 04:05 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 13 - 04:14 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 14 Aug 13 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,Eliza 14 Aug 13 - 05:05 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 14 Aug 13 - 07:37 AM
Gutcher 14 Aug 13 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Eliza 14 Aug 13 - 10:50 AM
GUEST,mg 14 Aug 13 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 14 Aug 13 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 14 Aug 13 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 14 Aug 13 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 14 Aug 13 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 14 Aug 13 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 14 Aug 13 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,eldergirl, again 14 Aug 13 - 12:49 PM
Gutcher 14 Aug 13 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 14 Aug 13 - 01:37 PM
Tootler 14 Aug 13 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Eliza 14 Aug 13 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,eldergirl 14 Aug 13 - 07:11 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Aug 13 - 03:52 AM
Tattie Bogle 15 Aug 13 - 04:22 AM
Big Al Whittle 15 Aug 13 - 04:40 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Aug 13 - 05:48 AM
GUEST,Eliza 15 Aug 13 - 05:51 AM
Jim McLean 15 Aug 13 - 06:00 AM
Gutcher 15 Aug 13 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 16 Aug 13 - 06:43 AM
Jim McLean 16 Aug 13 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 16 Aug 13 - 07:10 PM
Tattie Bogle 16 Aug 13 - 08:40 PM
Bert 17 Aug 13 - 01:17 AM
Gutcher 17 Aug 13 - 02:59 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Aug 13 - 03:34 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 17 Aug 13 - 03:34 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 17 Aug 13 - 03:46 AM
Jim McLean 17 Aug 13 - 04:23 AM
Gutcher 17 Aug 13 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,Eliza 17 Aug 13 - 05:53 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Aug 13 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 17 Aug 13 - 06:31 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 17 Aug 13 - 08:17 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Aug 13 - 03:47 PM
Gutcher 17 Aug 13 - 05:26 PM
Phil Edwards 17 Aug 13 - 06:45 PM
Bert 17 Aug 13 - 08:09 PM
Gutcher 18 Aug 13 - 01:49 AM
GUEST,Eliza 18 Aug 13 - 06:00 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Aug 13 - 06:30 AM
MGM·Lion 18 Aug 13 - 01:58 PM
Jim McLean 18 Aug 13 - 03:17 PM
Bert 18 Aug 13 - 05:22 PM
MGM·Lion 18 Aug 13 - 06:06 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Aug 13 - 06:23 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 19 Aug 13 - 03:15 AM
Gutcher 19 Aug 13 - 06:56 AM
GUEST,Eliza 19 Aug 13 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 19 Aug 13 - 10:03 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 19 Aug 13 - 10:11 AM
Eldergirl 19 Aug 13 - 11:06 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 19 Aug 13 - 12:55 PM
Jim McLean 19 Aug 13 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Eliza 19 Aug 13 - 02:35 PM
Tattie Bogle 19 Aug 13 - 03:38 PM
Mysha 19 Aug 13 - 10:03 PM
Gutcher 20 Aug 13 - 05:48 AM
Phil Edwards 20 Aug 13 - 06:48 AM
Phil Edwards 20 Aug 13 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 20 Aug 13 - 07:51 AM
jacqui.c 20 Aug 13 - 09:06 AM
GUEST 30 Sep 18 - 10:10 AM
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Subject: Singing in Different Dialects/Accent
From: Rabblerouser
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 01:22 AM

For those of you who perform songs that are from a dialect other than your own, do you just sing it in your own dialect (no matter how weird it sounds) or do you temporarily adopt a dialect (or at least an accent) for the duration of the song?

This concern came up for me as I was starting to learn Scottish folk songs. In the past, I have done mostly Irish, American and English folk songs, and many of these sound fine regardless of accent. I'll admit that I do put on a touch of Irish pronunciation sometimes, but how can you not when you're singing a Dubliners song? The same goes for Appalachian folk songs: I don't actually adopt a full-on drawl, but I definitely sound more "country". In any case, most of these kinds of songs are comprehensible for most speakers of standard British or American English, even if some of the phrasings or pronunciations sound unusual for one's own dialect.

But with Scottish folk songs, it's often another story. Many of them are written not in English but in Scots, which is arguably its own language. I do sing songs in French and German, but there it's easy enough just to adopt the standard accent. But with Scots, sometimes the songs just sound weak or "wrong", make less sense, or don't rhyme if you don't sing them in Scots, with a full-on accent. I'm thinking, for example, of "A Man's a Man for A' That" or "Wha'll Be King but Charlie", songs that would lose a great deal in translation. To sing a song written in Scots in English, one would essentially have to rewrite large parts of it, including reworking rhyme schemes and so on. I can and have done that, but I don't think that it's an ideal solution.

On the other hand, I'm concerned that if I ever go to Scotland, I'm going to get laughed at or beat up for singing songs in Scots as a non-Scot. I wouldn't mean to parody or ridicule the way Scottish people (or at least some of them) sound, but that could be the assumption. I really don't know, and would appreciate some insight into how I would be received. I would have similar concerns (though to a lesser degree) if I were singing a song written in the Yorkshire or Geordie dialects.

So, what do you think? Is it stupid to put on a different dialect/accent when you're performing, or is it just what makes the most sense? Do you have any experiences with this you'd like to share?

-Rabblerouser


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Bert
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 01:38 AM

Well there are some songs where you are stuck with trying to do the accent because that is the way they are written and they only rhyme when sung with the accent.

Such as, Manurah Manyah, Ooom Pah Pah & Cosher Bailey to name just a few.

And if you say that we shouldn't sing these great songs, then tough titty, I'm going to sing them anyway.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 01:38 AM

I sing every month with a very accomplished (and gracious) English singer, Dick Holdstock: and with a very accomplished (and gracious) Scottish singer, Allan MacLeod. On top of that, I know a number of native-born Irish singers. I think it would be foolhardy of me to attempt an English, Scots, or Irish accent in the presence of those people, so I sing in my own accent with a few little things thrown in to make it sound English, Scottish, or Irish. But I wouldn't dare attempt a full accent.

I think my German and Yiddish are pretty good, so I sing songs in German and Yiddish in as authentic an accent as I can attempt - but I don't attempt to sing songs in English with any sort of "German" or "Yiddish" accent - fake accents are often stereotypical and demeaning, so it's best to avoid them. I also occasionally attempt songs in Spanish or Italian, and I try not to slaughter the language too bad. I don't attempt French, Portuguese, or the Slavic languages - they're just too tough for a Midwestern American to try. I have tried a few songs in African languages, but have no idea whether I'm right.


So, in general, I think you're best off not trying to attempt English accented by any other language, because you're likely to sound stereotypical and demeaning. But if you're singing in the other language, try to replicate correct pronunciation as best you can.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Bert
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 01:46 AM

Joe,

Manurah Manyah, Ooom Pah Pah & Cosher Bailey are all in English with Scottish, Cockney and Welsh Accents respectively. They don't rhyme and would sound stupid with a Midwestern American Accent.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 02:29 AM

Used to be mixed about this one, but when I witnessed the amusement, and sometimes resentment expressed towards some of those who attempted accents I decided to either Anglicise those I decided to sing, or to (regretfully) abandon them altogether.
There are really very few that won't Anglicise, and it's not a question of the overall accent but specific dialect words that don't occur elsewhere.
I sing quite a few Irish songs, having worked on them for thirty odd years, but having seen so many Irish people falling about at attempted 'Oirish' accents - no thanks.
Scots I found most difficult to decided on as I love the ballads, some of which contain beautiful Scots words and phrases which you would wish to keep because of this - "coulter", "smoor", "laverock"....., but as I say, most Anglicise.
For me, it's not just a matter of not wishing to offend or be laughed at - I find it difficult to relate to songs in accents that are outside of my experience.
I go along with Bert to an extent about Welsh (Cosher Baily), but there it's not so much the accent rather than the up-and-down flow of of the line (not unlike Cork Irish) and I think you can get away with it without sounding if you are taking the piss.
MacColl wrote a song about The 1960S Labour Government's attempt to place a top limit on British workers' wages (In Place of Strife) - I'm sure (I hope) it gave offence, but not because of the accent.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Rabblerouser
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 02:30 AM

The specific song that sparked this question was "The Band O' Shearers". I find myself unable to avoid singing the chorus as written, even if I standardize parts of the verses:

Ah, bonnie lassie, will ye gang
And shear wi' me the hale day lang?
And love will cheer us as we gang
Tae join the band o' shearers

I could try to translate it, but it would sound like this:

Oh, pretty fair maid, will you come
And reap with me 'til day is done?
And love will cheer us as we go
To join the team of reapers

That's alright, but certainly not as catchy. Throughout the song, you have the same "ang" sound being repeated, for example:

And if the thistle be's owre strang
And pierce your lily milk-white hand
It's wi' my hook I'll cut it doon
When we gang tae the shearin'

Again, an English reworking:

And if the thistle brings you strife
And pricks your hand both white and lithe
I'll cut it down all with my scythe
When we go to the reaping

Hmm. Could work, but by the time I'm done it'll be almost unrecognizable except for the tune.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Amergin
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 02:49 AM

Well, it is difficult to sign a song in Scots without an accent fake or otherwise. Other than that, it shouldn't be attempted. That is just my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: r.padgett
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 02:50 AM

I tried "owd Jim Slack 'e ad a grey oss" at Warwick ff (dahn sahth) last weekend well worst reaction yet!

Even in England the broad Yorkshire accent doesn't necessarily travel, tho it's pretty much ok in the North!

No "h" exists in Yorkshire of course

Ray

full words etc on www.yorkshirefolksong.net


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: mg
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 03:15 AM

I would never anglicize. I would never, because I have no ear at all, try to do justice to an accent either..and I wouldn't do a fake one anyway. I would just sing the words as handed down in an obvious American accent as I would expect a Chinese person to sing an American song in an obvious Chinese accent and I would not say to them, that is not how you are supposed to sing Home on the Range. Swing Low Sweet Chariot. I am convinced, despite my bad ear, that I can sing in Swedish so I sing along with the Scandinavian hour on the radio..works for me and I am sure the Swedes in my neck of the woods would be too polite to tell me to stop.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 03:34 AM

"The specific song that sparked this question was "The Band O' Shearers"
I know exactly what you mean - beautiful song.
I feel the same about Lothian Hairst and find myself singing it around the house all the time, but along with many excellent bothie songs that are so richly reliant on accent and dialect, reluctantly....
"Shearers" raises a particular problem as "gang" and "lang" are built into the (in this case triple) rhyming system.
I'm working on Alan MacClean at the present time and hoping I can manage it without doing too much damage - think I did it with The Wee Magic Stane (Stone of course) which I find myself strangely re-attracted to after half a century.
Good luck,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 03:57 AM

I don't think the problem is using the Scots words. There is no need to change those. However I think it would sound better singing a Scottish song by singing the Scots words in your own accent or at least some kind of more neutral accent rather than going overboard and trying to mimic a full blown Scottish accent. When people mimic a Scottish accent they do tend to go over the top and it does tend to end up quite comical and can be cringeworthy. Plus if Americans do it for some reason it often ends up sounding like some kind of mock Irish accent. In my opinion anyway. Whereas reasonable people will be accepting to anyone attempting the Scottish words themelves.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 04:00 AM

"Whereas reasonable people will be accepting to anyone attempting the Scottish words themelves."
Excellent point and well worth considering
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 04:32 AM

I would say that it depends upon:

1. your own accent

2. whether or not you have an ear for accents,languages etc.

3. the dialect/language of the song(s) you want to sing.


To 1:- the radio programme about The Critics Group included one of them singing "The Strawberry Roan"....unfortunately in a plummy upper class english accent- and no, it wasn't a piss-take. I had a serious fit of the giggles! There is perhaps something to be said for recording yourself and listening critically to the result. My own accent could be described as BBC/standard RP but years spent in Derby, London, Swansea and Lancaster have enabled me to tone down any tendency towards 'pluminess'. On the other hand, as a voice-artist, if a client wants 'pluminess' then he'll get it, but that's a different ball-game.

To 2:- I've been living in Germany now for over 30 years and so speak german reasonably well. However I have an english accent. Hearing the, often cringeworthy, attempts of many Germans to sing in english makes me wary about singing in german (or french or swedish for that matter)- I can do it where necessary (e.g. "La Complainte du Partisan"), but I don't make a habit of it.

To 3:-(overlapping with 2) Generally I find that scottish and irish songs, including the ballads, to be no great problem. I may 'anglicise' the pronunciation of a word here or there, it depends principally upon the rhyming scheme and whether I feel that the story will or will not suffer in some way. For example, I occasionally sing "The Blackleg Miner" but with 'don't' rather than 'divn't'( go near the Seghill mine) and I don't feel that this change detracts from the story. As far as the 'big ballads' are concerned, there are so many versions of the individual stories that it's no great problem to find one which presents only minimal linguistic challenges and yet satisfies. On the other hand I wouldn't even contemplate singing songs such as "John McClean March", "Freedom Come-all-ye" and "Banks of Sicily" precisely because those songs stand and fall with the language and for me, although I'd like to think that I have an ear for languages and accents, I don't feel that I could sing such songs convincingly- and that is perhaps the point.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,SteveT
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 05:21 AM

I have always tried to sing in my own accent as much as possible. With the ballads I anglicise what I can but leave specific dialect words if I think they'll sound totally wrong if changed.

I was at a "ballad session" yesterday and sang the Border Widow's Lament. I sing "heart" instead of "hairt" and "went" instead of "gaed" for example but leave in "brawer bower". In conversation later one person (Irish) asked me if I was Scottish as I sounded it, another (Scottish) said that they much preferred it when, like myself and another singer, we didn't try to put on a false accent.

Now I'm just confused. I know I try to sing in my own accent but it seems different things come through to different people!

(I'm much more put off when English people sing "Bob Dylanish" songs they've written themselves in pseudo-American accents.)


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,SteveT
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 05:21 AM

I have always tried to sing in my own accent as much as possible. With the ballads I anglicise what I can but leave specific dialect words if I think they'll sound totally wrong if changed.

I was at a "ballad session" yesterday and sang the Border Widow's Lament. I sing "heart" instead of "hairt" and "went" instead of "gaed" for example but leave in "brawer bower". In conversation later one person (Irish) asked me if I was Scottish as I sounded it, another (Scottish) said that they much preferred it when, like myself and another singer, we didn't try to put on a false accent.

Now I'm just confused. I know I try to sing in my own accent but it seems different things come through to different people!

(I'm much more put off when English people sing "Bob Dylanish" songs they've written themselves in pseudo-American accents.)


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Mr Happy
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 06:00 AM

Eastenders??


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 06:03 AM

"The Strawberry Roan"."
I think this was the late Alasdair Clayre who along with Charles Parker , were the only ones with an excessive "plummy" accent in the group.
Charles managed to disguise his origins, Alasdair never tried to but left the group in its very early days.
For excruciating accents it's worth re-visiting some of Ewan's 'Oirish' ones on his very earliest albums - I seem to remember him saying it was re-listening to these that brought him to the conclusion that singers should concentrate on handling material in their own accents.
It was Peggy of course who 'fessed up" to her "unforgivable" response to the 'Leytonstone Leadbelly' - see relevant 'The Living Tradition' letter page.
"pseudo-American accents"
Years ago I was delighted when I learned that BBC radio was devoting a well deserved radio programme to the poems/songs of Robert Louis Stevenson - beautifully researched, but oh - those painful mid-Atlantic accents!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Rabblerouser
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 06:08 AM

That's rather helpful, Don. As for myself:

1. I grew up mostly in the States, but I've lived in both Ireland and India, as well as traveling through the UK and elsewhere. I think Ireland had a bit of influence on my accent, though perhaps indirectly. I had a hard time understanding the people out in Co. Limerick, who actually did pronounce fine as "foine" and like as "loike" while peppering every sentence with profanity and Irish slang - goes to show you that every stereotype comes from somewhere. Part of it is, of course, socioeconomic: the posher Irish people I met had milder and, in my opinion, more pleasant accents whereas the young people only a generation removed from farming had brogues so thick you'd need a cleaver to hack through them. In any case, that experience got me to enunciate my words even more clearly than I had in the past. I would never inflict that experience on people who listen to me sing an Irish song; no, I invariably, and by now almost involuntarily, sing in a mild accent that shades into my usual way of speaking.

Incidentally, when I was attending a university in upstate New York, I performed mostly Irish songs, particularly given that I hadn't yet expanded my repertoire to include bluegrass/Appalachian folk songs or Scottish ballads. In consequence, someone who knew me only through my performances was rather surprised to learn that I'm not Irish. Another funny thing, I tend to get slightly stuck in "Irish mode", so that I still sound a bit Irish for the rest of the night after singing an Irish set. I can scale it back if I notice it, though, and fortunately it's gone unremarked by most people thus far.

2. I've studied French for about 8 years now, including with a native French-speaking tutor who helped repair the damage done by 4 years of secondary school French. I've also studied some university-level German. For me, the accent has always been the easy part, so that sometimes native speakers assume I'm more fluent than I am based on my correct pronunciation. I feel fairly comfortable singing songs in these languages, though I probably make songs in regional dialects sound a bit too much like standard French or German. I'm actually trying to understand Canadian French expressions now, and perhaps even start speaking the way educated French Canadians do just to irritate all the Parisian snobs. And French Canadians have better folk music, too: Canada's where Cajun music came from, not to mention that there's a distinct Scottish and Irish influence on French Canadian fiddle tunes that you don't find in France (except perhaps in Brittany). For some reason, the French also just don't seem to be very into their folk music the way some Brits and Americans are. They think of folk songs as being for small children, so far as I can tell. I, on the other hand, find a lot of their chanson singers rather dull, with the exception of Georges Brassens, of course.

While in India, I didn't come to speak any Hindi/Urdu or Punjabi but I did my best to sing songs in those languages with as faithful a pronunciation as possible. They were a lot nicer and more forgiving than most Americans would be hearing an Indian person singing an American song. Actually, I remember a good friend of mine from India singing the country song "England Swings (Like a Pendulum Do)" by Roger Miller. I couldn't help cracking up every time he sang the chorus because of his accent, especially the way he pronounced the letter d in the word "do". It's definitely funnier when a foreigner attempts to sing the more folksy/down home American songs as opposed to generic pop. Hopefully I don't sound that way to a Scot or a German . . .

3. As I've said, I'm trying to learn more Scottish songs, many of which are in Scots or at least use some Scots words. Over the past year or so, I've been focusing on bluegrass/country folk songs, such as "Shady Grove", "O Death" and various songs from recordings by Doc
Watson, Dock Boggs, the Stanley Brothers or the Carter Family. What I find quite striking is just how much more distinctive UK dialects are than American regional dialects. I can't recall ever having trouble understanding people from the American South in conversation. Most of the distinctively Southern American words and expressions can be understood, if not immediately then with two seconds' thought as to their meaning. On the other hand, UK regional dialects such as certain Scottish dialects, the Yorkshire dialect and sometimes certain London dialects give me enough trouble that I'd be tempted to put on the subtitles when watching a film where all or most of the characters have thick regional accents.

Funny thing, as SteveT points out, English people often try to sound somewhat American when they sing American popular music. Hell, they've been doing it since at least the 50s or 60s. You wouldn't even know that Mick Jagger is English just from listening to his singing voice. I can say the same about the early (not later) Kinks, the Who and any number of other pop/rock groups from the 60s. The worst is when they end up with a mishmash that sounds half-American, half-English. They always sound very stereotypical, too, as though they're trying to be an American radio DJ/announcer or a character from an American TV ad. I still like their music, and often prefer the British take on American music styles like rock, but those accents are just so grating.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Rabblerouser
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 06:22 AM

One specific thing I notice is that many English pop/rock singers, especially in the 60s (don't know about today), tried to imitate the American "R" (a rhotic R, for all you amateur linguists). The problem is that they never quite get it right - and I'm not sure exactly why it sounds off, but it does. I can also hear it when my posh English friend puts on her "American" accent, and occasionally with Hugh Laurie as Dr. House. It's as though it just doesn't sit right in their mouths - they're just not used to making that sound.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Mr Happy
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 06:43 AM

I heard that from the early days, record producers & studios encouraged British artistes to sing with a US accent & accentuate their 'Rs'


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 09:26 AM

I've not tried to do accents that weren't my own. I was at an open mic in Chicago once and heard a singer from Glasgow trying to sing Woody Guthrie songs in an Oklahoma accent. It didn't work all that well. I love Scottish songs, but would not try to sing them like I was Scottish. I think the band I used to be in managed to accomplish that.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 10:51 AM

I was told by a wise old Irish lady that having a musical ear does help with imitating accents, and after spending any time in her company, I found myself speaking with a definite Irish lilt. Not that I could keep it up for a song, though, without sounding as though taking the Mick. Unless I had learnt said song from an Irish person's singing. But it still wouldn't Feel right.
The other day I caught a u.s. actor playing a Brit on TV, exclaiming "but I'm Briddish!" Ha! Yanks incapable of using letter T. Like us Brits with R. Dead giveaway on both sides.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Mr Happy
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 11:34 AM

'course he meant to say 'Bri-ish'! [glottal stop]


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 12:50 PM

One example I can think of is Maddy Prior of Steeley Span singing Come Ye O'er Frae France. It all sounds really quite good to the ear apart from the word Frrrrrance. She tries to accentutate the 'r' as Scots would but just goes slightly OTT. Still love the recording though!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 02:13 PM

Re "The Strawberry Roan" - Charles Parker was the 'guilty party'.

I can vaguely recall back in the 1950s on the BBC Home Service(!) there were programmes which included trained singers singing things like "Blaydon Races" in a strange melange of Geordie and plumminess!

Foreign languages....how many remember, or even sang "Everybody loves Saturday Night"? As I recall, it went through about ten languages.
If you're serious about singing in a foreign language I would suggest trying to learn the song(s) in question from a native speaker rather than from a book. There are so many pitfalls, subtleties and niceties in terms of pronunciation, fitting the words to the tune and so on that it is very easy to make a fool of yourself. (Yes, I know Pete Seeger gets/got away with it).

With accents and dialect, in the end it's probably a question of feeling comfortable with what you're singing. I've yet to encounter a pedant complaining that I've toned down a regional accent or dialect a tad. Give the song a few months to 'bed-in' before going public and, whether you've anglicized a word or two or come to an 'arrangement' with the dialect, it'll probably feel alright. It's probably best however to keep to accents and dialects within your comfort zone. I come from Kent and for me, singing something in Geordie, particularly the 'pitmatic' variety, like "Little Chance" would be way outside my comfort zone. On the other hand, I grew up in Derby so that if I sing songs I've written about Derbyshire I probably automatically take on a slightly East Midlands accent.........

"The Band O'Shearers"..How about this 'anglicization'?:

O bonnie lassie will you go
And shear with me the whole day through?
And love will cheer us as we go
To join the band o'shearers.

Don


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Bill D
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 02:18 PM

Some can do accents... some cannot. Jean Redpath could slip into an American 'country' accent quite well..... and my wife, who is 2nd generation Italian, has a very good ear for other languages. I'm sure a native speaking Scot could tell she was NOT perfect, but she does Hamish Henderson's "Farewell to Sicily" well enough to satisfy Ed Miller, from whom she learned it.

I sometimes sing "The Twa Corbies", and I can't imagine Anglicizing it, whether or not I manage a Scottish accent perfectly. I can 'hear' the right sounds in a song, even though I have not always practiced reproducing them just right.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: DMcG
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 02:31 PM

I rarely 'do accents' as such, but having lived in various parts of the UK for long spells, I do sing in something-like-the-variation-of-my-accent-as-it-was-when-I-lived-there if it is appropriate. As I've never lived in Scotland, I tend to have a Border accent for those. I agree with Bill D that, for me, the Twa Corbies works much better in a Scots-like accent than an attempt to translate it into standard English.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Amergin
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 03:19 PM

I must say that it bugs me when an Australian musician, who is otherwise really good, sings in an pseudo-American southern country twang. It puts me off.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Amergin
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 03:20 PM

Unless it is for comedic effect...like with the bluegrass band The Pigs.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 03:34 PM

TO coin a truism......whatever works.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Noreen
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 05:59 PM

Joe Offer summed it up perfectly at the top of the page:

fake accents are often stereotypical and demeaning, so it's best to avoid them

Nothing more to add, apart from- yes, it IS a fake accent, unless it's your natural speaking accent.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 06:04 PM

Thanks, Dick.
Nowadays I try to stick to local songs to my own county. Even then being a city lad I have collected lots of farming songs in the surrounding countryside which has a very different accent and dialect to the city. I still sing them and as I taught for thirty-odd years in the county I got to know the accent very well so still sing those songs. My own grandmother who I learned songs from had a different accent to mine but I still sing her songs.

Here's an in interesting recent event relevant here. A group I'm part of have been asked to sing traditional fishing and whaling songs, and write and rewrite material for a local museum. Most of the songs are either local, have been localised or are universal, but at short notice we needed a version of the Herring's Head for the same purpose. I have collected plenty of local versions but this meant the other 3 members of the group would have to learn one of these quickly.
However the exhibition it was needed for had come from Scotland and all four of us knew the Scottish version which we had all picked up independently from Jock Manual who came to live in our city. No brainer! We quickly recorded this Scottish version with no problems and it fitted the bill perfectly.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 06:13 PM

Noreen...that being said, I never know whether to call you NOReen, as the English people do; or NorEEN. [grin]


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Bill D
Date: 07 Aug 13 - 07:52 PM

Several years ago, she told me politely but directly..NOReen *smile*


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Fred Maslan
Date: 08 Aug 13 - 12:06 AM

Many years ago I was singing at an "old peoples home". One song I sang was Tumbalalaika in Yiddish. Afterwards one woman approached and said in a very thick Yiddish accent "Very nice, very nice, nest time you sing in English",

Fred


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: michaelr
Date: 08 Aug 13 - 01:32 AM

Fake accents are grating, to be sure. And one should not sing Scots unless he grew up with it. And furthermore, no vernacular songs should ever be anglicized. All valid points.

But what is a California-based performer to do if he wants his audience to understand what he's singing about - at least the important bits?

"A Man's a Man" was cited above. I've been singing an anglicized version of the song which, though still requiring close listening, is at least accessible to an American audience, if I explain it some. If anyone's interested, I'll post it.

I don't fake accents, BUT when singing Irish or Scots songs, a bit of a burr or lilt is bound to sneak in. That's perfectly natural and quite unconscious.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 08 Aug 13 - 05:23 AM

Never mind other accents, the drift of modern English means many young singers nowadays can't cope with songs in their own dialect. Hearing some young Aberdeenshire loons recently murdering (local) bothy ballads was quite saddening. Not their fault, of course, but they had no idea about pronunciation and when they tried were inconsistent (the k-night took up his nife, etc).


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Aug 13 - 07:43 AM

'no vernacular songs should ever be anglicized'

Absolute tosh! Many of the Scottish songs were scotticised from the English, 'Bonny lass of Fyvie' 'Bonny Ship the Diamond' 'Cruel Mother' etc etc.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 08 Aug 13 - 08:29 AM

Accents are accents (pronunciation, phonology). Accents are not inseparable from people. People's accents 'change'. And they 'use' different accents in different contexts, towards different people. It seems arbitrary to give a higher status to people who shift accent less frequently, as if that made them, not less adaptable and expressive, but rather more 'true.'

The idea that an accent can be "fake" is something that requires certain assumptions be made about the relationship between speech and identity, and between identity and song/singing.

I think these assumptions are made only by people with certain world views; they are not universal, and therefore neither are their judgments on how to inflect one's singing voice very compelling when you look at a really broad range of scenarios.

Most of all, I think the concept of being "fake" needs more thought.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: clueless don
Date: 08 Aug 13 - 08:52 AM

I have thought about this question because at storytelling gatherings I sometimes do comic recitations written by Marriott Edgar (Albert and the Lion, The Battle of Hastings, Three Ha'pence a Foot, etc.) It is my belief that these simply wouldn't work if I recited them in my Washington DC southern drawl, so I do my best to recreate the (Lancashire?) accent in which I learned them. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me that they are offended.

Don


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 08 Aug 13 - 09:11 AM

"Most of all, I think the concept of being "fake" needs more thought"

That is true. I can remember when the Proclaimers first came to prominence they got some criticism for intentionally singing in their own accents. For putting it on!

I played a couple of songs at the break at a Debra Cowan gig in Kelso. The first one was in the local dialect whilst the second one wasn't. She liked them both but asked me why I sang the second song with an American accent. I honestly didn't think I was, or certainly didn't mean to. and was kind of taken a back. She must have heard it in there though! I just thought I was singing it in a more neutral way without the local accent.

You are right though we speak differently depending who were are speaking to. With real locals I tend to speak with quite a broad accent using a lot of Scots words; at home with my English wife I tend to rein it in a wee bit; at work it tends to be more standard English but with the Scottish accent. At dinner parties my wife says she can see me holding different converstations with different degrees of dialect being used depending who the people are. I think it is something some people do naturally


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GingerDave
Date: 09 Aug 13 - 06:45 AM

It may cause annoyance for others, but my opinion for what its worth is, if it feels right to you, then go for it.

Some songs don't feel right without an accent, fake or otherwise. I personally try not to sing in an American accent because it doesn't feel right, but feel ok singing with an Irish, Scottish or Welsh accent (relevant to the song) despite the fact I was born and raised in England. This is partly because I can trace my recent heritage to one degree or another to each of these countries.

Seems we may be getting back into the 'Is it Ethnic' debate of the early 60's.

Anything goes for me.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Aug 13 - 06:12 PM

I always felt that The Smurfs attempts to mimic the natural accents of Pinky and Perky were embarrassing in the extreme. I can't stand that sort of inauthentic cultural imperialism.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 09 Aug 13 - 08:00 PM

A great man ( I can't remember who ) once said, "sing how you speak" . He was right. Altering words that you do not fully understand or know the alternate or slang meanings of can lead to big problems.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Aug 13 - 08:36 PM

sing how you speak - why?

fiddle like you tiddle
pluck like you ....


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 09 Aug 13 - 09:23 PM

DUCK!! Big Al's lobbed an f-bomb....
Auldtimer, I think you have two conflicting thoughts there. Sing how you speak and remain true to yourself, yes? But that might mean you'd need to alter words that weren't part of your normal speech pattern. So then you might not be true to the song. Then have to decide which is the better.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 10 Aug 13 - 03:45 AM

Does singing a Billy Bragg song require putting on a totally naff, over the top pseudo- East End accent, an accent which disappears as soon as BB sings Woody Guthrie or just speaks?

Sing in an accent/dialect/pronunciation which you feel comfortable with. If you're not comfortable with these aspects when you're singing - and I'm not talking about content- then it's very likely that your audience will notice this, to say nothing of a performance which doesn't do the song justice.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Aug 13 - 04:00 AM

more apothegms for The Great Folk Revival

1) always nance as you dance
2) always wear a sporran when you bodhran
3) always try to strum like you scratch your bum
4) always think of panties, when singing shanties

These are the tenets I have tried to live my life by, and we hold these truths to be self evident.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Bert
Date: 10 Aug 13 - 07:45 AM

Generally you can recognize a person by their voice. This means that almost everyone has an accent. Therefore, if you only sing in your 'own' accent then you are pretty much limited to songs that you have written yourself.

I come from The East End of London but I don't speak with a broad Cockney accent. Would I, or would I not allowed to sing Cockney songs, if I can't affect an accent when I sing?

And how far do we go if we have to Anglicize (or Welshicize, or whatevericize) our songs? Should Geordies have to Geordyize any non Geordy song that they sing?

Should nobody but Londoners be allowed to sing 'Streets of London'?

Gawd the few hundred songs in my song list would be reduced to a few Dozen.

As Dick says - 'whatever works'.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 03:24 AM

It's clear that there is no universal right answer: it depends on the particular song and the particular singer's opinions and abilities. And whatever solution one adopts, someone else may disapprove.

A complication peculiar to Scots is whether it should be treated as a dialect of English or as a distinct (though closely related) language. If one regards it as a dialect, there's a case to be made for adapting a song to one's own dialect and trying to minimise any resultant loss of rhymes. But if one regards it as a language then one should treat it accordingly, as one would for any other language besides one's own. Either translate the song entirely or leave it as it is. It may come out in generic Scots rather than Glaswegian, Galloway, Doric or whatever, but that seems to me no different from singing in one's best approximation to (for example) standard French or Swedish.

One of my personal pet hates is the horrible halfway house, where someone sings in an English accent but with the odd "toon", "frae" and the like, still in the same accent. Either those should be changed to "town", "from", etc or the whole song should be sung in Scots.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Paul Reade
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 04:28 AM

Just because you sing a song from your local area doesn't mean you sing with your normal pronunciation. As a Lancastrian, I sing quite a lot of Lancashire songs with a more "broad" accent that I would never use normally, with pronuncations such as "wheer" (where), "owd" (old), "whoam" (home).

As well as adopting an accent for a particular place, it's also for a particular time, which can only be at best an impression of how people spoke and sang in the days the song originates from. What makes it even more complicated (and interesting) is that we often don't really know when that was!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 07:32 AM

"Scots is whether it should be treated as a dialect of English or as a distinct (though closely related) language" Of course the whole language is a dialect with an army type scenario. Officially of course Scots is again regarded as a language in its own right though in many people's minds it is still looked on as slang, bad English or a dialect of English. maybe not surprising after a cenury or more of suppression. Even officially though things change with the wind. However one thing for certain is that Scots isn't a single dialect of English as Scots itself has a whole range of regional dialects which are really quite distinct. Borders Scots, Shetlandic and the Doric of the North East are just three examples which are really very different. So then as you suggest you get the dialectic differences. I have a Dundonian friend who does like me singing "Roads And Miles To Dundee" yet one or two of my pronounciations grate with her. Because I sing it in my own Borders accent whilst she's used to it in a Dundonian accent.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 07:39 AM

"One of my personal pet hates is the horrible halfway house, where someone sings in an English accent but with the odd "toon", "frae" and the like, still in the same accent."

we all have our preferences of course but I don't mind the halfway house because it is more true. People do actually speak like that! There are a great many English incomers in Scotland who retain the English accent but start using Scots words. A great many. My own wife speaks like that but being from rural Scotland where there are quite a few English incomers I am used to it anyway. So someone singing like that makes more sense to me than someone putting on a Scottish accent which (I admit not always as there are always exceptions) tends to sound quite comical.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 09:18 AM

"we all have our preferences of course but I don't mind the halfway house because it is more true. People do actually speak like that! There are a great many English incomers in Scotland who retain the English accent but start using Scots words."

Indeed, and I occasionally do so myself, having stayed (not, of course, "lived") in Scotland for a while in my younger days. But I see no sense in singing "toon" instead of "town" when otherwise singing in an English accent. That's not a different word, just the Scots version of the same word. I can imagine an English incomer in Scotland perhaps using "frae" instead of "from" or "wi'" instead of "with" if speaking a whole phrase in Scots, but not in a sentence otherwise purely in English.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 11:16 AM

"fake accents are often stereotypical and demeaning, so it's best to avoid them"

Adele is laughing all the way to the bank... and nobody - it seems - feels demeaned!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 12:56 PM

Thought I would throw this in – and article from today's Sunday Times, 'Life' supplement – 11.8.13
It touches a number of subjects that have been discussed on this forum, including this present one and the relationship of singers to their songs.
We've been lucky enough to hear Nell a couple of times at live performances – a fine young singer whose mature approach to her art gives you confidence that traditional singing in Ireland is back on the way up – look out for her
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBmWqxUF7LI
Jim Carroll

THIS IS WHAT I DO
Nell Ní Chroinín sean-nos singer
I'm from Ballingeary, which is in the Muscrai gaeltacht in west Cork. When I was growing up, I was always I going to sessions with my parents and there was music and singing going on the whole time.
When I was about 10, a singing scheme was set up for children in honour of Diarmuidín Maidhcí Ó Suilleabhain, a local sean-nos singer who died in a car accident in 1991. He had a huge collection of songs and was a great singer. Locals thought the scheme would help to preserve the Muscrai style.
The classes were free, so I signed up. A woman called Maire Ní Cheilleachair was my teacher and I really enjoyed it. We learnt a lot of different songs and I continued singing until I went to college.
I've kept it up ever since.
I sing songs from my own locality — I wouldn't sing songs from, say, Connemara because you need that blás, that local fluency that is required to sing a sean-nos song from a particular place. I suppose it's something relevant to where you're from. Having said that, there are singers from America who can sing as though they are from Connemara or Donegal, and they have learnt it by ear.
I'm now a full-time primary school teacher at Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil, in Dunkettle in Glanmire, Co Cork, so I'm lucky in the sense that I have summers and weekends off, which is when you are more likely to have a festival or a session happening.
One of the first songs I learnt and still sing is a light-hearted one, An Lacha Bacach, which translates as The Lame Duck.
It's about a duck who got a kick from a donkey and a farmer who is distraught because he fears losing the duck eggs he has for breakfast each morning. As the duck isn't feeling too well after the kicking, she's not producing, so the farmer decides to bring her in and nurse her back to health. There's a chorus that people can sing along to.
One song I do quite a lot is about a battle that took place in Keimaneigh, which is close to my family home. It is called Cath Cheim an Fhia and was written by an Irish poet called Máire Bhúi Ní Laoghaire. It uses some strong imagery. Sean-nos is really telling a story and, because I know the place that particular song is talking about, I can picture it in my head while I'm singing it.
Because of my singing, I've had great craic in the most bizarre places. Just a couple of weeks ago I ended up singing impromptu on a train in London. A few weeks ago I was also in France, teaching sean-nos singing at the Tocane St Apres traditional music festival. I didn't know what to expect, but the students were so nice and so enthusiastic about the songs. I explained their meaning and they learnt them phonetically, and then sang a few French songs for me.
At the end of the festival, we sang in the church in the middle of the town and it sounded lovely. It was kind of weird to hear a French group singing the songs, but I really enjoyed it.
Si Nell Ni Chróiní will perform at the Masters of Tradition music festival at Bantry House, Bantry, Co Cork, on Wednesday, and at the Derry Fleadh Cheoil next Sunday
Kate Butler


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 03:58 PM

"But I see no sense in singing "toon" instead of "town""

Mind you speak as if the pronounciation 'toon' (more usually spelled toun in Scots) is only used in Scotland. It is quite common in northern England too.

Anyway I don't know I find that is one of words people do pick up quite quickly. Here in the Borders well say we're going "doun the toun" and incomers quickly pick that up. Even non-english speakers. I have a Norwegian friend once who was quickly saying things like "see ye doun the toun at half seiven" in his funny accent.

Aother word many English incomers seem to pick up quickly is 'ken' for know. There are many more


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 08:08 PM

I'm with Big Al on this.

If you sing as you speak, wouldn't that mean you're...speaking? Or maybe your culture doesn't distingusih speech from singing. Mine does.

There are a few big issues (i.e. in my opinion) that always mess with this discussion—a discussion taking place on an Anglophone "folk" music forum. One is:

The abhorrence of "fake" or "artificial" things, and the supposed opposite of being "true" to something, that seems to get wrapped up in MANY people's ideas of "folk" music. These are values that are part and parcel with a lot of people's involvement in Folk. This is the case even if it is just situating oneself as anti-commercial... which puts one in the Folk area by default.

(For example, there is a "Folk Music" store in my town. Why is it not just a MUSIC store? Well, it was clearly established in contrast to what people thought a plain ol' music store would mean. Fake pop music people and their ultimate phoniness of wanting money for their performance of music, their fake gimmicks used only for money rather than as a "natural" expression. Or maybe those fake classical musicians that represent high society always puttin' on airs with their canapés....I mean, who can get filled up on that?)

At the same time, the very idea of "folk" music was developed as something that was thought to represent the essence of some *group* of people. (These notions and values have been inscribed into the meaning of "folk," which is why I think it's disingenuous nonsense when someone tries to claim that "folk" is just a handy term for music that has been transmitted a certain way, etc.)

The notion of speech being representative of the essence of a group of people then comes in. The reasoning then becomes that one has an essential identity in the form of a group to which one belongs, made manifest through speech, ... and as per the valuing of "being true"— the Folk music people value— you gotta stick to that.

The ball may roll here and there, and sometimes someone will admit, "OK, in THAT case I guess you have to depart from your speech," but there is always some way of rationalizing things so it comes out to "being true." Again I think that is because one of the top values (or aesthetics) of a load of people involved in Folk music is the "being true" in some form.

Some people might be surprised, however, to find that a lot of people in the world - outside the Anglophone Folk scene - don't put a whole lotta emphasis on that value. And that's not the same thing as being "fake." I challenge you to define fake singing or a fake accent in a way that makes rational sense.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 08:14 PM

I've found that you pick up the accent and speech patterns of where you are living. For instance, I was slightly surprised a few years back when an Asian stallholder in Leicester market said "Ta me duck" as I paid him for the pair of tights. That did feel proper incongruous, did that.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 03:26 AM

The problem with using accents is, unless you work on them individually in relation to the song and the area it came from, to the same extent as you would work on the tune, ornamentation, interpretation, phrasing etc., they can, and quite often do sound phony. It can be done but it takes hard slog, and if you don't do it they can sound like stereotypes or even piss-takes of accents.
Virtually all English people I have heard who attempt 'American' accents end up producing a mid-Atlantic approximation - neither fish nor fowl - which sounds sometimes hilariously phony to American listeners (sort of like Dick Van Dyke's Cockney in Mary Poppins) and can even be taken as insulting - our pop music is based on this phony pasted-on accent.
Accents can be beautiful (maybe not Birmingham – joke-joke!) - they are a part of our heritage and we stand to lose them to 'Estuary' English' or to the emasculated travesty of English our language is becoming on the media, so they are worth preserving properly.
On the other hand, if a song will Anglicise, satisfactorily why struggle with something unnecessary?
If it won't and you still want to sing it - do the work or you'll almost certainly make a hames of it.
Anyway, people don't sing in 'American' or 'English', or even 'Lancashire' or 'East Anglian' accents - our speech is far more fine-tuned than that.
There isn't one single 'Irish' accent, as pointed out - as sean-nos singer, Nell Ní Chroinín (above)
"I wouldn't sing songs from, say, Connemara because you need that blás, that local fluency".
If it's a problem for her – it's ten times more of a problem for us foreigners or outsiders.

"I've found that you pick up the accent and speech patterns of where you are living...."
I was born in Liverpool, I moved to Manchester when I was 25, lived there for four years, then moved to London and survived there – (nobody 'lives' in London!) for thirty years.
I have now lived in the West of Ireland for 15 years and will almost certainly pop my clogs here.
Now, in all the places I have lived, people ask me where I'm from – including in my birthplace, though most people invariably guess I've lived in Liverpool at some time or other.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 05:05 AM

The problem with using accents is, unless you work on them individually in relation to the song and the area it came from, to the same extent as you would work on the tune, ornamentation, interpretation, phrasing etc., they can, and quite often do sound phony.

I fail to see how this is a "problem" in "using" accent. More of a challenging requirement. Look, you're trying to do something, right? That something which you're trying to do is perform music, produce a sound, make a cultural expression—whatever. You've got to learn to get your timing a certain way, get your pitch a particular way, your tone a way, etc. ...and the articulation of your words in the appropriate way. The pronunciation is very often part and parcel of the musical style

So if Person A doesn't bother to give attention to the pronunciation and Person B tried and comes closer to the pronunciation of the target, how has Person B failed? By neglecting the pronunciation, Person A hasn't tried to accomplish the musical style. Would you also tell Person B not to bother singing the song if their pitch weren't 100% at the master's level? People try and succeed in singing with various pronunciations all the time. As a native born American, I can't remember ever hearing a Briton singing culturally American music, with appropriate ballpark phonology, and think, "Aw gawd! so horrible!" If they hadn't made any effort however, their pronunciation might sound incongruous—not necessarily bad, just incongruous.

This sensitivity about foreigners/outsiders "using" one's accent is silly. If someone immigrates to my region from foreign, I *expect* that they will be working on their speech to blend reasonably with our local. It doesn't make them anything less than who they are to be able to speak like where they come from and speak like where they are now when they want to make that gesture of communication, of identification with this culture.

So why the double-standard when it comes to singing?

Again - This sensitivity about foreigners/outsiders "using" one's accent is silly. More importantly, it's not an issue with people everywhere. It is an issue that comes up especially among people in this Anglophone Folk music world. I'd go so far as to say we could narrow that down even further to say it is a much bigger issue for people of the British Isles (not all, I just mean relatively speaking). I think it has something to do with the way that a lot of Britons and Irish have come to view accent and identity. There are a ridiculous number of regional English accents in North America, for instance, but there is not much of a tradition here of thinking in terms of an accent being one's in born essence. Sure, people have fun talking about their accent and relation to what region they were raised, but you don't as often find people articulating the idea almost of an in-born, ancestral accent essence like Jim just did: "They can always tell I'm from Liverpool." And eldergirl's anecdote is completely meaningless to me as an American because most people I'd encounter with an Asian physical make-up would talk the way people talk in this region. Incongruous would be if that person were talking *differently*. The difference, the Person A, causes more of a rupture than Person B, who meets you part way.

I lived with a Japanese immigrant guy who could sing Nirvana (the band) songs in a way that sounded just like the original. When he spoke in English, he had a very obvious "foreign" accent though. So when he sang the American song, should he have sung in the "Japanese foreigner" pronunciation? Should he have not sung at all? Should I have looked at him and said "How incongruous!" and laughed? Or was he a lucky savant that mastered the pronunciation so well that, OK, he was worthy of singing...yet if it was any less masterful I'd been insulted by his comical attempt to be American? No...I think he was doing the LOGICAL thing without any hang-ups. He thought, "I like this American song, and I will sing it as best I can." Ain't the Japs quaint that way, thinking that if they like something they'll do it while oblivious to the proper etiquette?

If some Brits and Irish (and others, to a lesser degree) have this sensitivity, that's cool. Their values are what make them what they are. But what I am arguing is that that's a particular worldview that doesn't apply to many/most exchanges of music in the world, and probably only seems so appealing here due to the homogeneity of this forum.

As to why others outside the old-fashioned British accent-essence bubble feel a similar sensitivity —and I'll be bold and finger White North Americans as typical — I think there are other reasons...but I'll shut up for now.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Bert
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 05:30 AM

...nobody 'lives' in London...

Oi! and you don't want to offend or be laughed at :-)


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 05:48 AM

Don't mind either Bert, as you should know - well used to both.
Waiting for the return-fire from Birmingham.
As someone who comes from a town where the accent is described as "being caused by the wind coming through the Mersey Tunnel blowing up your nose" I take it as a joke, as should you.
The immortal Tony Hancock once described a Scots accent after he had asked directions to somewhere as sounding like someone clearing their thoat, coughing and walking away - it was not till after he had gone that Hancock realised they were the directions
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 07:28 AM

Accents are weird. I've got a friend who sings, to my ear, just like Anthony Newley (and it works for him). The weird thing is that he's from Yorkshire, and he's not putting on any kind of accent when he sings - there's just something about his inflection that says whoops! blimey! Carnaby Street! there goes Julie Christie!

To me, anyway.

I agree with Gibb, up to a point. Singing isn't speaking, and it's actually quite hard to sound like yourself - you will tend to pick up the inflections of the singers you learned from or admire. I often hear myself going a bit Bellamy/Capstick/Waterson(Lal). The trick is to find a voice and stick to it - as Bellamy so conspicuously did - but finding that voice can be a long job. It's certainly not likely to sound like your speaking voice.

But that's separate from the issue of regional (and national) accents. I grew up in Croydon, went to Cambridge & have lived most of my life in Manchester; as a result I've got an accent which is essentially RP-with-bits-of-Manchester, although when I get launched on a subject it's likely to morph back into RP-with-Croydon. Either way, it's absolutely bloody useless for Scots or Irish material. I once did Three Ravens followed by Twa Corbies; before I started the latter I asked if anyone from Scotland was in. When somebody said Yes I very nearly did something else instead.

What I do in practice is anglicise the straightforward cases (toun->town, awa->away, gang->go & so on), and where that's not possible I leave the words sitting there like rocks in a field. In Mary Hamilton, for example:

The King is tae the abbey gane
Tae pu' the abbey tree
And scale the babe fae Mary's heart
But the thing it wouldnae be

I sing it as

The King is to the abbey gone
To pull the abbey tree
To scale the babe from Mary's heart
But the thing it would not be

Basically the same thing; people can work out what 'scale' means from context, and at the end of the day it's better than not singing the song.

With modern songs it's different again - I take the view that when Hamish Henderson wrote "Aa the bricht chaumers are eerie" he meant it to be sung as "Aa the bricht chaumers are eerie", and since I couldn't bring that off without sounding like a middle-class Englishman trying to do an impression of Dick Gaughan, I leave it alone.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 08:27 AM

"Singing isn't speaking"
No it isn't, but one of the greatest idiosyncrasies of traditional singing is that quite often the narrative doesn't make sense - breaking up words so they simply don't make make grammatical sense (syntax) or leaving gaps in the narrative to fit a line or to accommodate accompaniment (the latter being certainly the most common nowadays)
I don't think this to be common with source singers, though there are a few who have done it, or even made a 'style' of it.
English language traditional songs are in the main narrative and every traditional singer we have ever asked as told us that he/she considered themselves storytellers whose stories happened to come with tunes.
Walter Pardon was particularly insistent on this and believed that it was not worth singing a song unless you could also identify with it in some way.
Before he 'discovered himself' for the revival, Walter had not sung in public, not even at home among family gatherings "except Dark-Eted Sailor - nobody else wanted that!"
Instead, he dedicated his time to preserving his family's songs, memorising them and writing them down and establishing the old tunes by playing them on the melodion.
A noticeably habit on his early recordings was his tendency to hold onto last words of each verse for a little too long - listen to the Leader albums.
When he became used to singing this disappeared.
Tom Lenihan, another great, large-repertoire singer, described little tricks to make sense of the narrative when it was difficult to fit it into the musical line - running on lines and, where necessary taking a snatch breath as soon as he could so as not to interfere with the sense - slight humming sounds to fill in poetic gaps, particularly on the beginnings of lines....
One of the noticeable features about the interviews we did with Tom was that he found it virtually impossible to tell the story of a song without constantly lapsing into singing it and invariably he abandoned any attempts to do so by surrendering to just singing it - his singing had become part of his natural speech.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 12:43 PM

"If some Brits and Irish (and others, to a lesser degree) have this sensitivity, that's cool"

I don't think it is about sensitivity as much as just letting people know what works best. Jim is right when he says that people putting on Scottish accents tend to sound comical. It may not sound so to foreigners but if people want to perform to Scots! The songs just sound much better(speaking as a Scot)if they don't go overboard with the mock Scottish accents - whether they are using the Scots words or not is pretty imaterial.

As for Brits doing American songs well they can often be done without putting on overt American accents. For me this just works much better. Don't know what Americans think right enough.   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbXapBdTT4o


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 02:01 PM

I think it all depends on how well and convincingly the person speaks/sings in the chosen accent. I was amazed years ago to learn that Pete Budd (lead singer of the Wurzels, he of the comboin 'arrrvester) wasn't from Somerset at all but from Penicuik, Scotland of all places. And many British singers use a quite convincing American accent. I'm thinking of Lonnie Donegan (Rock Island Line, and Battle of New Orleans) and Mick Jagger (Honky Tonk women etc). These songs would have sounded extremely comical if performed in their own native accents.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: meself
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 05:00 PM

I find Mick Jagger's "American accent" hilarious - but strangely loveable.

As for the subject in general - well, you either like Elvis-impersonators or you don't.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: mg
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 05:12 PM

I think we should retain as much of the original as possible without slavishly duplicating accents..the "anglicized" examples in this thread hurt me to look at..no offense because I know people tried..but just sing what you can of the Scots' words and you'll end up fluffing up some of them naturally..we can say gang as well as anyone else can...and especially don't try to make the unknowable words different..just leave them..somebody knows what they mean..so I don't know what a doffin mistress is, or a davit tackle?? I can still preserve them as best I can...and really really really don't change the gender of the person....I truly truly hate it when people do that..well, these are rules I live by but you don't have to but of course I would rather you did....mg


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 05:46 PM

I don't know about Honky Tonk Woman! Why need it be in an American accent? Sure it is set in the States but the narrator need not be American. Even "Battle of New Orleans" well I don't imagine there was no such thing as an American rebel with a British accent! New arrivals were getting there all the time. There must have been plenty rebels with British accents. Not trying to say what people should do as much as pointing out that having, let's say an English accent, need not make either of those songs less authentic. For want of a better word.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 08:01 PM

I've had people gawp at me when I sing (as I hopefully put it) An Mhaighdean Mhara, which is normally sung in Donegal Irish, but I don't feel that comfortable in that dialect so move the pronunciation more familiar to me, a horrid mixture of 'Compulsory Leinster' and Connacht.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 08:09 PM

Pardon me for protruding, but frankly, I feel there is a great halo of goat feathers orbiting around this whole subject.

I grew up speaking "standard American," but somewhere I got pretty good at imitating accents and dialects. Good ear for it, I guess. Great for telling dialect jokes.

In fact, in college, a Jewish friend told me a whole bunch of Jewish jokes. He couldn't do a decent Yiddish accent himself—and I could—so he taught me his whole repertoire of jokes and when the joke-telling started, he would delegate me to tell the ones he wanted to tell.

When I started singing folk songs and ballads, without over-thinking the matter, I tended to sing them back as I had heard them and in whatever accent or dialect I happened to have heard them in.

Never had much feedback on this matter. Other than that people of all stripes, colors, and ethnic backgrounds have been willing to pay to hear me sing.

What feedback I did have came from a Scottish gentleman, the husband of one of my mother's old schoolmates, who teared up when I sang songs like "Bonnie Dundee," "The Bonnie Earl of Moray," and "MacPherson's Fareweel." His reaction came from nostalgia and homesickness, not from my atrocious accent (which is actually pretty good, if I do say so myself).

Some feedback came from "politically correct" types who, for example, took exception to my singing "Black Girl," which I had learned from a Lead Belly record. They (and they were white themselves) objected to my singing the word "Black," because somehow it was an "ethnic slur."

To test this out, I told two people about this: one a folk singer friend of mine named Lynn—who, incidentally, was black—and another co-worker at one of my day jobs, a young woman, who was also black. Both of them said that they did not find my singing of the song offensive or denigrating at all, and urged me to go ahead and sing it (adding a few choice comments about the PC types who had objected).

I love the songs. And I try to present them the best way I know how. And to sing, say, a song like "The Bonnie Earl of Morey" without a good nod toward the dialect—

Ye Heiland's and ye lowlands,
Oh, whaur hae ye been?

Rather than Anglicizing it into

You Highlands and you lowlands,
Oh, where have you been?

would actually take the song out of context and simply fail to do it justice. It would sound pretty damned limp that way.

And I refuse to take a song like "Black Girl" and render it downright wimpy by sing it "Little girl, little girl, don't lie to me me. . . ."

Here's a good experiment. Try to sing

I ride and old paint,
An' I lead an old Dan,
An' I'm goin' to Montan'
For to throw the hooliyan. . . ."

with a crisp and precise, Oxford English accent.

See what I mean?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 11:57 PM

good on yer Don!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 01:32 AM

Rather than Anglicizing it into...would actually take the song out of context and simply fail to do it justice.
And would, in a way, take it over for yourself without having to give due to the people it came from.

But that's just what Anglicizing in the old guard British tradition is, isn't it. It's a great tradition, old boy. It's more than language; it's culture in general. "We" are Greenwich Mean Time. "We" are the default standard of the world—people shall conform to us, not we to them.

Just look, for instance, at the South Asian ethnic communities in the U.K., as compared to North America and other places. In the U.K., Indians typically don't even say their own names right, because they have caved to whatever the Anglo society is expecting. I'm not talking about just saying it with English accent (which is completely reasonable in English context) but changing it into funny other things. Yet in the States the Indians just say here's how to say my name and the local people say it.

So, the "rules" seems to be:
1) WE shouldn't have to budge from our way. And those among us who do condescend to the level of the Natives of elsewhere, when doing their thing, are traitors and fakes. Yes, we will take their thing that we like, but only in properly Anglicized way...knife, fork, and all.
2) YOU should not try to do things our way, because you'll never be us, we'll never consider you to have truly gotten it (how can you capture our essence when your essence is different?). Our status as the default shall be maintained, and others will diverge from that accordingly.

An extreme caricature I've made, to be sure. My aim is not to create a straw man or overgeneralize a group of people.

It's rather to suggest that there is a worldview shaping this sense of propriety when it comes to singing and accents. And it's just *one* worldview. There has been a claim that Scots would be angry or put off or something if a non-Scot sang a Scottish song in a Scots accent. OK, they have the right; better to be pissed off than pissed on, I guess. But so many other people or the world, in the same sort of scenario would be THRILLED to have someone make that gesture. Plenty would not even think about the accent at all. For example, so long as the words were comprehensible, they might be focused on the meaning of the words, or the passion in the singer's voice, and might even feel honoured to have that.

The main theme I've been yapping on about is that if changing accents is a violation of one's aesthetics, so be it. It's a valid preference. Don't sing in a different accent, don't put your elbows on the dinner table, and don't forget to say "Excuse me" after you fart. But it is quite illogical to apply those "rules of etiquette" (of sorts) to what other people are doing in this big wide world. The default position is an illusion.

Excuse me!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 02:38 AM

I don't beleive we are the default. I would be the same the other way round. There is a guy at our club who mainly does American songs but he does them in the most cringingly bad American accent. It simply spoils the performance and it isn't necessary.

Neither do I think Scottish people would get angry if someone did a song in a mock Scottish accent! Simply pointing out that many people (of course there are exceptions)who mimic a Scottish accent go way over the top and it comes out sounding an awful parody. I only suggested that singing the words as written without overtly mimicking the accent itself is in my opinion generally better. Personally i find non-English speakers often don't have the problem as they just sing the words straight without the mimicking.

Fair enough an awful parody of a Scottish accent may not be recognised as so depending on where you are - but if I am doing a song from someone else's culture then I'd like to think I could do it to the best of my ability and I'd like to think that they might not find it ridiculous sounding. In other words I'd be interested in their advice and not just accuse them of some kind of superiority complex.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 03:25 AM

"would actually take the song out of context and simply fail to do it justice"
Which more or less sums it up for me.
Some songs are made around the dialect; the words, even the sound of them, give them their vitality and beauty - take that away or mess it up and you destroy the song. Anglicising them can make them sound mundane and rob them of their essence, both for the singer and the listener.
"Neither do I think Scottish people would get angry if someone did a song in a mock Scottish accent!"
Not angry, but in many cases I think they would become amused and stop listening - the accent would become the object of attention rather than the song itself.
I think there is an added problem with Irish songs, where historically the Irish (Oirish) accent has become a way of denigrating and mocking a 'troublesome' people - Mr Punchifying them.
I'm not suggesting for a moment that this would be the intention of any singer, but it can sometimes be the way it is seen.
That aside, singers have to be able to immerse themselves enough in their songs to become emotionally involved in them - the songs have to work for them before they will work for an audience, to be ideas, facts and emotions that you are communicating rather than just sounds, no matter how accurately produced.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: mg
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 03:40 AM

Well, Scotland seems to be the focus. For hundreds of years, we in North America, which would include Canada, Mexico and U.S., as well as Greenland if you are talking about continents, and various islands, such as Costa Rica, Puerto Rico etc...did I forget anything? have had a fair number of Scots Scottish but do not say Scotch that is for whiskey people in our midst. We also have a cultural history of numerous S/S/S songs, such as Auld Lang Syne, coming through the rye, Loch Lomand, Annie Laurie etc...so these words are part of our heritage somewhat as well..you can't put a wall around a language and say only we'uns can speak it. If other people like a song, like a phrase, etc.,,,they can use it. Hopefully they will treat sacred things especially with respect. We might end up all talking Franglish, Spanglish, Swedlish or whatever but we can and it is good.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 04:10 AM

Well I'm a Scot by birth and residence but with an English accent, thanks to living in England for nearly 2/3 of my life. I lived in Suffolk, and there are not many people who can do a convincing Suffolk accent, either singing or speaking it, unless they've been brought up with it: otherwise it comes out as "mixed BBC rural". I do like the Kipper family repertoire as the Norfolk accent is close to it.
Having learned a lot of Scots songs since living up here, AND having been brought by a Scottish mother, I think I can make a fair stab at some Scots songs and the accent(s) and would never dream of trying Anglicise e.g. Yellow ( Yella, in fact) on the Broom. My mother taught us to say the ch sound properly very early on, no such place as LOCK Lomond! I also write songs, sometimes choosing to do so in Scots, depending on the subject matter if the song. But I'll never sound quite like someone who has lived here all their life. Like Allan Conn's wife, I often slip Scots words into conversation, especially wi' ma braider freens.
As for not mixing it, just look at Burns: plenty of examples of poems/ songs where he uses a mix of English and Scots in the same composition, even alternating versions of the same word between 2 "languages" - often for the sake of a rhyme.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 04:36 AM

I've already posted that, in my opinion, feeling comfortable with the text you are singing convincingly is more important. If you feel you can do an accent without going over the top, the dialect words present no problem and you are comfortable singing a song this way - fine. Conversely, if you're happier anglicizing parts of the text - fine again.
However if you're trying a heavier dialect like Geordie('Pitmatic' or not) or possibly a language like Scots (to say nothing of other languages) I think it's important that you also UNDERSTAND what you are singing about so that your performance carries the necessary respect and rings true.
If you're in doubt about the course to take, try making a recording of yourself singing the song in question with and without accent etc. and see which works better for you.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 04:58 AM

Anent whither Scots be a language or a dialect I raised a smile on a visit to the hospital yesterday by enquiring at the information desk for directions to the Lug, Neb and Thrapple department.
Astute readers of this forum will have no difficulty in translation as the meaning of one of the words will be well known furth of this land.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 05:27 AM

"Not angry, but in many cases I think they would become amused and stop listening"

Totally agree with you Jim. If the singer has no interest in what Scots think then fair enough but I imagine the very fact that someone is trying to sound Scottish means they are attempting to get it sounding as geniune as they can. Don't know why the other poster had to bring an almost racism thing into it? Plain fact is that whether one is acting or singing - a bad accent risks ruining the performance. At least for those who know the accent!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 05:51 AM

I'm kind of agreeing with everyone here. Like Don says if you are doing something in another dialect/language then surely you want to try and get it as well done as you can? Totally agree with Tattie Bogle. Burns wrote some works in a broader Scots dialect; some works in a less broad more anglicised dialect; some works in standard English; and in some he chops and changes within the piece itself. Most famously in Tam O'Shanter. The bulk of the poem is in Scots then the middle section is standard English. Many Scots even speak like that changing from minute to minute. Why not in a song if someone wants to anglicise a line then try it. Sometimes it will work - sometimes it may not.

Scots themselves differ as to how they sing certain songs with some using a heavier dialect than others.

I agree with MG too that the songs are not only Scottish heritage. Basically I am not trying to proscribe people from doing them. I am happy if they do them. I am not sugesting that they should or shouldn't anglicise the words. In some cases it will work in others less so but there is no harm in trying. I just find nothing unusual about people using the Scots words without reverting to the adoption of an OTT Scottish accent, and tend to prefer it, because adopting an accent can often sound comical and like Jim says the bad accent overshadows the song. To me on balance it is better for (especially on a serious piece) the song to sound slightly different and unusual than it is for it to sound plain comical.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 05:55 AM

I like Don Firth's synthesis best. It proposes a means of pursuing a creative life as an artist to the best of ones abilities.

All the other side has to offer is that we sit around being reverent to 'the greats' of folk music, and sneering at anyone who opens his gob in an unapproved manner.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 06:09 AM

Over the twenty years we recorded Walter Pardon we spent many pleasant hours just chatting.
One night we were talking about accents when, in his gently quiet way he said, "I get fed up with people taking the mickey out of the way we speak in Norfolk - they always make out we say "oo –ar""
Pat said tentatively, "but you do say "oo –ar" Walter".
He thougt a minute and replied, "oo –ar, so oi do".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,SteveT
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 07:39 AM

Particularly with the narrative songs mentioned earlier, perhaps the litmus test is whether the listener ends up focussing on the song or the singer. It's not so much about what the singer feels about their ability but what the audience feels about the song itself. A friend once reported a comment he'd heard to me which, paraphrased, goes something like "A poor singer stands in front of their song, a good singer stands behind it."   For me the listener should be listening to the song and the singer shouldn't get in the way of that: the words and accents need to work so the listener hears the story not the accent. Different singers may achieve this in different ways with different audiences: I have my own way but I don't think it's a case of one size fits all.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 09:36 AM

Great story, Jim. Love it!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Tootler
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 09:57 AM

Gutcher,

My wife, who's from The West Riding of Yorkshire (RIP) would understand exactly what you meant.

I'm originally from Aberdeen, though I have lived nearly all my life in England (my Father's a Yorkshireman but was in the RAF so we moved around a lot). When I first met my wife, I was struck by how many terms she used that were in common with terms used by my grandparents because she was quite broad and her mother used quite a few dialect terms.

I sing a number of Scots songs and I find that a fair number of the Scots words are also in common use in the North of England, but there are others that I am unfamiliar with and I have look up. I think it's important to understand what you are singing so I have a Scots Dictionary bookmarked in my browser.

When I sing a Scots song, I don't consciously put on a Scots accent but some people have told me one comes out. Someone once even asked how come I was singing in an Aberdeen accent, so I reckon the fact that much of my earliest years were spent in Aberdeen have left a mark, even if it was buried away. It does sometimes worry me a bit because I wouldn't want a Scot to think I was putting the accent on.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 11:51 AM

Shortly after MacColl composed it I began to sing 'Tenant Farmer'. I believe it to be one of his best - he wrote it after a discussion with a group of Border farmers at a Hogmanay party outside Lockerbie.
I Anglisised it, but was never happy at losing some of the Scots words, particularly, "coulter" and "roup", but it still worked for me.
When I started to re-sing twenty-odd years later here in Ireland I put it back in my repertoire but this time I included the Scottish words I had omitted.
It now works like a charm; so much so that when I sang it earlier this year I choked on it - I find it very emotionally involving and anger provoking.
I stopped worrying about the Scots words altogether when, while singing the eviction sale (roup) verse a local elderly farmer standing next to me at the bar shouted in my ear "The feckin' bastards" - worth a thousand good reviews.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 12:15 PM

Well yes Jim - but the first version was an important step on your way to understanding the song. That's how it is sometimes.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 12:18 PM

Sometimes you have to get stuck in and hammer at a song - even though you know its not really right, And recording it is another set of problems.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 01:04 PM

Jim roup is still in use in the West of Scotland for an auction sale of many kinds in farm and business closures whether they be due to retirement, death or financial collapse.
I would imagine that tractor drawn ploughs still have couters as horse drawn ones certainly had in my young days, that was in the time when country blacksmiths kept what were called "smiddy hours" ie. from ten in the morning till ten at night, this allowed ploughmen to visit the smiddy after their dailly darg to have the couters sharpened and other minor repairs carried out and provided a warm place to gather and put the world to rights in their wide ranging discussions leavened with the odd sang--- and some of them were very odd!-- as anyone who has heard me singing will testify


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl, again
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 01:38 PM

This is a most excellent thread. Or mebbe it's just grand. Think I'll shut up an go back to lurking, too many things I'd like to chip in with, would take me yonks to tap it all in, by which time you'll all be four pages ahead. Keep going youse guys. I'll follow as best as I can...
Oh, recording songs. Couple of weeks ago I discovered a recording of me done 2 yrs ago which I never knew about, singing one of my fave Northern songs, learnt from a Northern woman, and I do not sing it quite the same now as I did then. We're supposed to improve with time an practice, right?


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Mrrzy
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 04:57 PM

I cannot help but sing in the accent in which I heard the song. It's terrible.
Fascinating thread.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 05:03 PM

"Think I'll shut up an go back to lurking,"
Please don't EG - these threads work best when everybody participates - seems to be working here and you usually have something interesting to say
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 06:00 PM

AS a Geordie who's spent time in Kent, London, Scotland, Ireland and El Hierro in the Canaries, am quite happy to sing songs from all places without worrying too much about my accent- leave others to judge how successfully! Wouldn't even attempt some of Hamish Henderson's or Rabbie Burns', much as I love them.
Think I get away best with Scots Irish songs, to which I think the Geordie accent has some affinity? When singing Irish songs for the locals 20 years ago in the Mizen area of West Cork, I was asked what county I came from- my answer of County Durham produced a few headshakes in response, but they must have thought I was Irish. By the way, there was little Irish music in the area then- which was why a Geordie brought up in NE folk clubs got the 'tourist' gig for many years.
I tried the same thing in Boulogne when I lived in Dover, but even though I had a beret and a bag of onions, the locals weren't deceived at all, despite my accent, which owed more to 'Allo 'Allo' than Georges Brassens....


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Tootler
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 06:31 PM

Coulter isn't specifically a Scots word. It is also found in England.

I googled it and got this

coul·ter (kltr)
n.
A blade or wheel attached to the beam of a plough that makes vertical cuts in the soil in advance of the ploughshare.
[Middle English culter, from Old English culter and Old French coltre, both from Latin culter, knife, ploughshare]

For all that, I take your point, Jim.

I have two rules of thumb I use about anglicising words:

1. Is there an exact or, at worst, a very close equivalent in standard English? If not, then leave the original alone.

2. If there is an equivalent in standard English, can it be used without destroying the rhythm of the words or in any other way adversely affecting the poetry of the song? Again, if the answer is no, then leave the original alone.

Most of the time, that means don't anglicise.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 07:01 PM

"Coulter"
It's a word that always fascinated me when I learned that the punishment for the ploughman who assisted Lady Warriston to murder 'is Lordship was to be "broken over a coulter" - she, as fitting to her rank, was smothered between two silk pillows - not a lot of people know that!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 08:15 PM

Well I certainly didn't. I wonder if the meaning had a bearing on Philip Pullman's choice of mrs Coulter as name of hard, cold evil woman in His Dark Materials, whose chief task was to divide the children from their souls? No relation at all to Coulter's Candy then!
Like mrrzy, I sing in accent of person I learned song from. So My Husband's Got No Porridge In Him comes out somewhat Yorkshire..(from lovely Hilary Spencer) Not too great a stretch as it's actually where I was born, though I've not lived there since I were 5.
Thanks Jim, here I am again!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 10:37 PM

I've pretty much lost my West Riding accent now, but if I sing "Poverty Knock" or "The Dalesman's Litany" or other songs from the area I revert back to an accent even broader than the one I grew up with.

"Poverty Knock" as sung by Chumbawamba and various other people is just cringe-making sung in "received pronunciation". I'd rather hear someone "put on" the accent and sing it so that the rest of the song fits in with the dialect words, as long as they don't make a complete arse of it.

And "Dalesman" as sung by Maddy Prior and Tim Hart (and various others I've heard at times) sounds terribly twee...not only because " 'Ull and 'Alifax and 'Ell " sounds much better than when sung with "properly pronounced" H's, but placenames like Keithley and Bra'f'd just sound wrong, as does their use of "bairns" and "brass" and other dialect words.

I won't even mention non-Yorkie attempts to sing "Ilkla Moor" :-)

On the other hand, I frequently hear English people singing songs of English origin in fake Oirish accents....Fiddler's Green and Shoals of Herring being two of the worst for that....presumably because they've heard them done by famous Irish artistes in Irish accents and think they're Irish songs.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 03:28 AM

"Thanks Jim, here I am again!"
Welcome aboard!
All this has set me off to thinking that tackling songs in unfamiliar accents - or taking the easy way out by parodying them in 'Oirish' or 'Mock-Jimmy', can come about because of an underestimation of your audience - "what does it matter how I do it, what do they know, so I might as well do a 'Clancy Brothers Soundalike'", or in my case on occasion "they won't follow, or be interested in what I'm singing about so why do it?" and revert to the tried and tested 'Desert Island Discs' fall-backs.
Not directly related to accents, but MacColl used to tell a story against himself of when he started singing long ballads in public back in the 'Ballads and Blues' days
One of the earliest of these was 'Gil Morrice' which he decided was too big a bite for new audiences, so he broke it into two halves, one in the first half and one after the interval.
"One night a young feller who had recently become a regular; A great big trouncer who used to deliver beer locally, hands like crane-grabs"; (Ewan elevated exaggeration into an art-form), "came up and rather aggressively asked me "Why do you sing that ******* song in two bits; it's like waiting for the other bleedin' shoe to drop?""
He used the story to illustrate his belief that any audience was on your side from day one, and if you realise that fact and respect it "you can get them to follow you anywhere - over the White Cliffs even"
He believed that "Any problems in communicating a song was far more likely to be through a lack of confidence on the part of the singer rather than an inability to follow by an audience, any audience"         
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 03:52 AM

I always thought Shoals of Herring was Scottish, till I discovered it was by Ewan McColl. And there went a reinvented man..


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 04:05 AM

Couter to rhyme with scooter was the country pronunciation.
It is only in recent years that I came across Ewan MacColl in The Tobar an Dualchais site, before that if I had heard his name it did not register. I asssume that the recordings on that site were made in his early days while he was still working up to a Scots accent for to be quite frank, to a native speaker, his Scots accent in those recordings sounds so artificial.
As those were the only recordings of him that I have heard I cannot comment on how he developed it in later recordings.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 04:14 AM

"Shoals of Herring"
Turns up here often in Ireland as 'Shores of Erin' - even in academic collections - See Horace Beck's 'Folklore and the Sea'.
"reinvented man"
Peggy told a Woman's Hour interviewer who described him as such during an obituary feature that "He wasn't 're-invented' he just gathered up all the different bits of his life and experiences, joined them together and poured them into folk-song"
I drink to that every time I sing one of his songs or make use of something he wrote or told me/us.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 04:50 AM

Shores of Erin. Oh, human beans are very good at mis-hearing things...
Also, as humans we tend to reinvent ourselves to some extent throughout our lives, learning by experience and all that. But some of us manage greater reinventions and adaptations than others.
Which kind of takes us back to where we came in, I.e. accent/dialect, use of, to fit in, to adapt, to make the effort to be part of a given community.. I think.. Not to mock or sneer, but to better express what needs to be said or sung.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 05:05 AM

Born and bred in Middlesex, I went up to Edinburgh to Uni and stayed in Scotland for 12 years, the last seven in Glasgow. As a teacher I tried to adapt my ghastly English accent so the pupils could understand words for eg spelling tests. It's no good saying 'girl', 'pearl' and 'curl' with exactly the same vowel sound. In Scotland it's 'girrel', 'perril' and 'currel'. I've quite a good ear for languages and accents. In singing lessons we teachers were given many old Scots songs to teach. I'd have sounded absolutely daft if I'd stubbornly delivered eg Will Ye No Come Back Again? in broad English. As for Come to the Barrowlands Tonight, (Swing yer ma, swing yer pa, swing yer grannie through the wa' etc ) just imagine that in 'posh West Londonspeak'! I also had to coach some pupils in Robert Burns poems for a competition. Luckily a Scots colleague was at hand to help with the Burns words and pronunciation. So I do feel the song determines the accent to a great extent.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 07:37 AM

Wish I'd had a teacher like you in junior school, Eliza! Picture an already misfit 7 yr old asking Where's Denise Evans to? in my best Devon voice, and Teacher answering There's no need for you to speak like that, in her chilliest manner. May not sound like much now, but I did so want to fit in somewhere, and that just squashed me flat. For a little while, anyway!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 09:25 AM

In a current thread "The last o the tinklers" [Violet Jacobs], see Malcolm Douglas's post of 12.3.03. This being a poem by V.J. and whilst not being in too strong a Scots dialect brings out very strongly the fact that a long line of aristocratic ladies spoke and wrote the Scots Language at least down to a fairly recent period, she died in 1944, she being an Erskine of the house of Dun. Lady Nairne and Lady Jean Scott are two others that come to mind, the latter being the daughter-in-law of a Duke who had the largest landholding in these Isles, she is best remembered for having composed "Annie Laurie" and "Durisdeer"


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 10:50 AM

In Edinburgh, many of the stsff spoke in the style of Miss Jean Brodie ("Ai em in mai praim") In fact Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, Harry Potter) epitomises that type. I remember a formidable woman, Miss Mackenzie, singing "Come o'er the sea Chairlie and dine wi' McClean" in a cut glass Morningside accent (The school wasn't far from Morningside, in Bruntsfield) . But Glasgow was wonderful, so genuine and vibrant, as were the songs. I spoke both 'Edinburgh' and 'Glasgae' quite well I feel. eldergirl, how nasty of that snobby teacher to accost you like that. Shame on her!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 11:19 AM

i have never heard and could never reproduce any difference between pearl, curl and pearl..and there were always people who told us that pin and pen were pronounced differently...never heard the difference...mg


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 11:20 AM

Eliza in Jedburgh when we went to school as late as the mid 1970s it was more than a bit confusing. Some of the staff would regard speaking in Scots as bad behaviour or cheek. I remember being sent to the Deputy Rector, a Mr Allan, for nothing more than saying 'aye' instead of 'yes'. Of course 'aye' is as much an English word as a Scots anway. When I went into Mr Allan's room I was greeted with "weil laddie whit ee been daein nou" and we did nothing more than have a wee chat about the rugby.

The Rector was a Mr Silver who happened to be English but in truth that isn't the issue as Scots were as likely to be against the use of Scots as anyone else. However he is quoted in Murray Watson's book "Being English In Scotland". He is actually talking about how incoming English children could be teased for their accents etc. He then goes on to denounce the local Borders Scots dialect of the locals as "a slovenly form of English with broad vowels".

Of course things have moved on a great deal since the 1970s.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 11:27 AM

"i have never heard and could never reproduce any difference between pearl, curl and pearl"

Quite a difference here in this area. My wife always thinks I am saying Carol when I'm talking about our friend Karl. Another pronounciation that she rather likes (for some reason but then she also likes the smell of creosote) is the way we say 'burn' sounding like 'burren'.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 11:28 AM

Thanks Eliza. It was the custom of the time, I think, and she wasn't as enlightened as some! We'd not long moved from Up North,for work for Dad, and though he was from Yorkshire, Mum was not, and had learnt her English from cut-glass types.
Thinking of Glasgow/Edinburgh comparisons, I have completely delighted in reading the adventures of Alexander McCall Smith's Scotland Street residents, though obviously you don't get the full impact of the accents by merely reading them...
One day I'll get tae Bonnie Scotland!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 11:28 AM

Thanks Eliza. It was the custom of the time, I think, and she wasn't as enlightened as some! We'd not long moved from Up North,for work for Dad, and though he was from Yorkshire, Mum was not, and had learnt her English from cut-glass types.
Thinking of Glasgow/Edinburgh comparisons, I have completely delighted in reading the adventures of Alexander McCall Smith's Scotland Street residents, though obviously you don't get the full impact of the accents by merely reading them...
One day I'll get tae Bonnie Scotland!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 11:48 AM

It's an interesting one this, because, within the same language, it does bother me - for some reason - when singers adopt an "different" accent e.g. British performers singing the blues like they were born in Mississippi in 1900.
However, what about singing songs in a foreign language?
Then, you have to adopt a foreign accent or it is just plain wrong!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 12:42 PM

Plain wrong like Elvis's German in Wooden Heart, you mean????
Sorry, I guess that was uncalled for. Fair play to him, he did have a go.
Having said that, Tunesmith, I know more than a few people who are more bothered by British performers ignoring their own tradition/s in favour of almost anything else.
But, as I understand it, the old traditional singers sang what they liked Because they liked it. Well, some of them did.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl, again
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 12:49 PM

Sorry 'bout double posting, still getting the hang of this phone..


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 12:54 PM

The fact that down to the 20th. C. Ladies in Scotland could compose songs and poetry and understand a language, which, whilst not the same language as that used in Scandinavia, could, I understand, be understood by medieval folk in those parts, must surely go some way to giving that language some legitimacy as a separate language.
Where do we have comparable examples from the other parts of the U.K.?
On a visit to Amsterdam some fifteen years back I, as a native speaker of Scots, had the most peculiar feeling that I should be able to understand all the signs on the buses and shop fronts, fact was I understood the meaning of a few and a visit to Scandanavia to test if the same feeling prevails there is now too late to contemplate.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 01:37 PM

In "Wooden Heart" Elvis was actually trying to sing in swabian dialect.........

Here's another aspect for people to pontificate over. There are songs, usually of a humorous/comic nature which, in my opinion, cry out for an over the top accent like 'workin' class Lunnon', for example "The teddy-bears rave-up", Roaring Jelly's "Brown ale and arrers", Leslie sarony's "Isn't gand to be bloody well dead...." Kno worra meen?


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Tootler
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 01:43 PM

My daughter had a holiday in Sweden a few years ago and said the place names looked very familiar.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 03:06 PM

While (fortunately) accent snobbery is dying out, so (unfortunately) are the accents themselves. Many people south of Watford now speak a sort of multicultural London dialect which I call 'Innit'. Lee Nelson's Well-Good Show is excellent, he speaks 'Innit' really well and makes me die laughing. But I'm worried that the nuances of different accents and dialect vocabulary are being lost, so folk songs sung in the appropriate way, even by non-native speakers, are maybe a good thing. Wouldn't it be strange if, twenty years from now, all folk events were presented by earnest singers performing in broad Innit?


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 07:11 PM

Argh! Please God I won't be here by then! All our regional accents are A National Treasure.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 03:52 AM

Walter Pardon again.
Not long before he died we came across an early recording of Walter made at the Norwich Folk Festival around the time he first appeared on the scene.
When we played it to him he said, "Wasn't I broad, I can hardly understand myself".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 04:22 AM

Sorry Jim, but generally Norfolk ( and Suffolk) people do not say "oo- ar", there is never an r in it, which is more "West Country", tho' there they would probably say oo- arrrrr!
What they say in E Anglian is "Ooooo- waaaah" - very elongated vowels but no rolling rs, and also a sort of up in pitch on the ooo, coming back down on the wah! And definitely that w in the middle.
Have another listen to your Walter Pardon tape, and let me know...........r or no r....please!

(I now expect a backlash from West Country people, as I know there are differences in accents between Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Glos and Bristol!)


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 04:40 AM

Perhaps you could give a seminar in Oooo arrs.
Or are you geting little bit up your own oooh arrrrs?


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 05:48 AM

Tattie Bogle
I stand corrected - a Townie's take on the phrase
Will happily take your advice - unfortunately I don't think we recorded that particular conversation but there are plenty more to go through when I have time.
Is 'Tattie Bogle' a Norfolk expression - I always theought....!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 05:51 AM

Tattie Bogle, you're quite right! I didn't like to comment on the 'ooo arr' post, but truly, no-one here in Norfolk has an 'r' such as that spoken by natives of the West Country. It is indeed pronounced oh waah, and often denotes a lack of belief. For instance, "Oi now bought a noice little skat in Debenham's fer two pownds!" "Oh waaah?" Or, "Oi hent bin drunk fer yairs!" "Oh waaah?" I've discovered that Norfolk people get incensed at the Mummerset attempts to copy their speech. It's nothing at all like the Somerset accent. I visit my friend over in Congresbury, and the people's accent is delightful. But it in no way resembles Norfolk. I agree with eldergirl, all our many accents here in UK are a Treasure. I believe that nowhere else is there such variation within just a few miles between regional pronunciations. Bill Bryson wrote about this in Mother Tongue.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim McLean
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 06:00 AM

I was working as a deck boy on a Swedish Merchant Navy ship once and the cook gave me a bucket of slops with the instruction "Tim de ut". Then, remembering I wasn't Swedish, said "empty that out". In my own Scottish language we would say "Tim that oot", almost exactly like Swedish.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 03:26 PM

Jim-- on entering a "big hoose" [castle] kitchen one morning in the early 50s. I remarked to Mrs. Barr, the cook, "we hae mair snaw in Mauchline the streen". Two young Danish girls who were in the kitchen at the time got very excited they having understood exactly what I was talking about and we ended up having an exploration of words we had that could be understoond by each other such as kirk,tow bund kist,ghaists,wist,eerie[a completely different meaning in Scots from the English meaning] etc..


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 06:43 AM

"Is 'Tattie Bogle' a Norfolk expression"

It is an old Scots term for a scarecrow. Literal translation being "potato ghost". Can also be a mildly derogatory name for a trampish unkempt person and also for a turnip lantern at Halloween.

Saying that when I was a kid my mother always used to call the wax in the kid's ears tattie bogles :-)


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim McLean
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 07:41 AM

Gutcher, yes there are many similar words, another is graede, Scottish greetin, i.e crying.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 07:10 PM

So..this means that the famous Scottish songwriter is literally Eric Ghost?
Hmm.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 08:40 PM

No, Tattie Bogle came from my Scottish mother: addressed to myself and my wee sister as weans, when we came in from playing in the gairden, looking like "a richt pair o' tattie bogles" we weren't even Worzel Gummidges!
Oh yes, we Bogles stick together, eldergirl!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Bert
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 01:17 AM

'Innit' I love it Eliza. My Dad used to call it "aincha, carncha and woancha"

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The correct form of any language is that which is spoken in the Capital City. This of course makes Cockney, standard English. If you don't sing your songs in Cockney, the YOU are the ones putting on an accent.

So most of you are putting on an accent all the time. So get over it and sing the bloody songs.

And if you come from America and want to sing British Workman's Grave, then go to it. Us Cockneys will be delighted.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 02:59 AM

The beauty of being multilingual---English/Irish/Scots is that one has a variety of words to choose from to form a ryme:---
Sae and Tae in Irish for Sea and Tea.
Soom and Droon in Scots for Swim and Drown.
Anent the word Soom, the late Stanley Robertson and I had an ongoing discussion over a number of years about his use of the word Sweem to be followed by Droon ln the version he sang and recorded of the ballad "Clydes Waters" To my ear Sweem stood out like a sore thumb and as the ballad is by its very name from Lanarkshire the word used when it was composed and used to this day is Soom.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 03:34 AM

It was once said that the Liverpool equivalent pronunciation exercise to "How now, brown cow" is "Tarra Theresa, see yer Thersdy".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 03:34 AM

Eric Ghost is a nice thought right enough. His 'Bogle' supposedly comes from a place name though. In Black's "Surnames of Scotland" it is given as being derived from Bowgyhill in Lanarkshire. The hill may have got its name from the supernatural though.

Bogle can be widened to mean ghouls or other unwordly creatures. Locally we have the Bogley Burn which is a little burn near the foot of the Eildon Hills. The minor road (used to be the main road) between Newtown St Boswells and Melrose was also itself called the Bogley Burn Road. It is on the this read where there is a stone commemorating the supposed position of the Eildon Tree where Thomas the Rhymer was abducted by the Queen of the Fairies. This is also the start of the so called Fairy Dean. The local football side takes a lot of ribbing through their name being Gala Fairydean :-)


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 03:46 AM

In a literary work I suppose the best known use of the word Bogle is from Tam O'Shanter. After the title Burns quotes the early scottish poet Gavin Douglas "Of Brownyis and of Bogillis full is this Buke" then Burns himself uses the word in the verse describing a drunken Tam making his way home in the storm

Weel-mounted on his grey mare, Meg,
A better never lifted leg,         
Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet,
Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet,
Whiles glow'rin round wi' prudent cares,         
Lest bogles catch him unawares;
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim McLean
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 04:23 AM

Allan, you mentioned the use of both Scots and English by Burns in Tam O' Shanter. There is a line of thought that Burns switched to pure English to slow the poem down .
" .... but pleasures are like poppies spread .........evanishing amid the storm" and then straight into Scots ". ..... Nae man can tether time nor tide, the hour approaches Tam maun ride", a neat trick.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 05:36 AM

Allan-interested to see your mention of a place cried Bowgyhill in Lanarkshire-- now it could be bogie as in "Bogies Bonny Bell" on the other hand I had some discussion with the lady who takes to do with the S.N.D. on the word BOW as used in song and poetry, my contention being that a BOW was a dairy cow as in the last verse of the sang "Bonny Buchairn" we get:--"It"s I"ll get some owesen, some sheep and some BOWS,tae plenish the toon o Buchairns nowes", bows being differentiated from owesen and to rhyme with ploughs.
Burns in his poem "Halloween" mentions BOW Kail,which is kail specialy grown to feed the cows-not owsen-to keep up the supply of milk.
We had an occupation called BOWING [pronunced booing]which is the contract management and milking of a herd of dairy cows. On her death certificate the mother of George Douglas Brown was referred to as a Bower. I have seen a 17th. C. reference to BOWING.
Not all places with the prefix Bow had anything to do with bows and arrows, we have the obvious Bowbutts but I am sure many referred to places connected with dairy cows.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 05:53 AM

Bert, there is now apparently a recognised (by phoneticists) accent called Multicultural London English (MLE), spoken not just by ethnic minorites, although it started with black London youngsters and spread in popularity until most young people in the Home Counties now use it. It fascinates me. I prefer to call it Innit, as many statements seem to end with that word. (eg "I'm not goin', innit?") I wonder if there are any new songs composed in Innit? I bet there are, and there'll be more no doubt over the years. One song that makes me totally cringe when sung by southerners is Auld Lang Syne. Imagine a Middle Class English party on New Year's Eve, everyone standing in a circle, arms crossed, warbling away at this fine old noble Scots anthem in public school Posh. Definitely an 'Oh No Moment'. (And why do they insist on sticking 'for the sake of' into the chorus? I feel like hitting them over the head with an uncooked haggis.)


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 06:17 AM

"Tam O'Shanter"
Surely the most memporable cliff-hanging line is Scots verse;
"He shouted "Weel dune Cutty Sark"
And in a moment all was dark".

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 06:31 AM

ROFL!
Thanks Eliza! I can just picture that!
Re.Innit, I've tended to think of it as a Hertfordshire Cockney variant(sorry Bert) but it obviously goes further afield. But an Indian lady I know, good education, well-spoken, often says 'isn't it' as a kind of punctuation: "we're going to the Rose Restaurant this evening, isn't it?" Similar to the Brit habit of "well, y'know, I never said that, y'know" or the U.S."and I was like, duh! and she was, like, get Over it.." Etc etc.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 08:17 AM

Interesting stuff Gutcher. Of course you are right it could also be bow or boo as in 'bull'. Chambers Scots Dictionary gives a great name for a cow. "boo-lady"

I looked in Nicolaisen's "Scottish Place Names" and it isn't listed.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 03:47 PM

"Chambers Scots Dictionary gives a great name for a cow. "boo-lady"
Interesating coincidence
Bó is Irish for cow, as in "Cailin Deas Cruite na mBo (pron. Bo)" - Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 05:26 PM

While we are plouterin amang the nowt, before the advent of the modern dairy parlour cows were tied by the neck in a biss--now you scholars does bis[s] in latin not have something to do with cloven feet. I have always understood that it had but can find no reference to it in my modern dictionary.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 06:45 PM

Bis is Latin for 'twice', if that's any good.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Bert
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 08:09 PM

MLE, it had to come of course.

I remember some years back following three young black girls at Earl's Court Station, and much to my delight they were speaking broad Cockney.

I still claim that Cockney is THE CORRECT ENGLISH. People don't speak with Scottish or Welsh or whatever accents. They are trying to speak English and are getting it wrong :-)


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 01:49 AM

Thanks Phil--there were usually two cows to each biss, so do we have a latin word still in current use as a description of a cow stall,interesting, although I still like to think it is connected with the fact cows have cloven feet.

Bert,overheard in a roadside cafe South of Glasgow, three lads boasting in broad Glaswegian of how they had just fooled the police and avoided a speeding fine by pretending to not understand English and only being able to speak in their native Pakistan tongue.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 06:00 AM

Oh Gutcher, here comes a confesion of my own. I'm not normally a pig when trying to find a parking space, but once (and it was only the once!) I was tired and stressed, and whizzed in front of a huge 4X4 Range Rover waiting patiently for the space just being vacated. My little Fiesta shot in and we parked. The man was (understandably) incandescent. His eyes glowed red with rage as he leaned into my open window. My daft husband just sat there terrified, but I used my noddle and started to speak in rapid Noushi French. Hubbie got the idea and chimed in with more Noushie French. The chap stood there with steam coming from his nostrils, but as we waved our arms about and smiled engagingly, what could he do? Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 06:30 AM

"much to my delight they were speaking broad Cockney"
Why not?
Years ago we were staying on the island of Poros on the Peloponnese in Southern Greece.
One extremely hot day when we had slogged to the top of the hill, we found a tiny shop selling ice cream.
A middle-aged woman dressed entirely in black from head to foot was tidying up behind the counter and ignored us.
When she heard us trying to interpret the ice cream packet labels in the fridge she came over and said in broad North London Haringeyese, "them're vanilla love, and those are coconut, and them are chocolate....."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 01:58 PM

"I've said it before and I'll say it again. The correct form of any language is that which is spoken in the Capital City"
.,,.
Sorry, Bert; nice try!: but an untenable statement. The capital's own specific accent [Cockney in our case] is as 'regional' as any other. "The correct form of any language" is that accepted as such by the educated; & here in UK that is so-called RP ['Received Pronunciation'].

You might not like it, but such is the fact. Sorry. And please note that this is no sort of denigration of any dialectal variants, but simply a semantic comment on the only acceptable connotation of the word "correct" in the particular context of this dialogue.

I have no more to add to this thread, as we have been thru it all before, at least twice, within the past year or three; in such threads as my "Why 'mid-Atlantic'?", which drifted to make all the points now being made here.

Er ~~ Innit!

~M~


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim McLean
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 03:17 PM

Bert is obviously flying a kite ...... upside down!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Bert
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 05:22 PM

~M~, so I guess that what you are saying is, that The BBC defined our language.

"Educated Southern English" is what intellectuals usually consider correct.

Jim, I'm just having fun. If I were to choose the BEST English accent I think it would be from Herefordshire.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 06:06 PM

That is a bit question-begging & cart-before-horsey, Bert. Such speech well preceded the BBC, which in no sense either initiated or 'defined' it [whatever you may mean by that verb here], tho it might at one time have acquired the sobriquet of 'BBC English' as the Beeb announcers tended to use it & so were heard nationwide doing so; because, following Lord Reith's principles, they came, originally anyhow, from the echelons of society in which such speech was the norm. But throughout the nation, long before invention of the wireless, that was how everyone, everywhere in the country, would have expected the vicar, the doctor, the schoolteacher, to speak... They would indeed have felt disoriented, & lost faith in such pillars-of-society's bona-fides and reliability had they spoken as they themselves [ie their parishioners, patients, pupils] did.

As you well know ~~ honest, now...

Innit.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 06:23 PM

"The capital's own specific accent [Cockney in our case)"
Cockney is East London - accents can and do vary from Greenwich to Richmond as widely as they do from Luton to Birmingham.
I once worked with a painter who claimed he could tell where a Londoner came from by the way he spoke.
I assume that it's all different now that everybody seems to communicate in glottal stops.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 03:15 AM

The language snobbery thing isn't confined to speakers of Standard English. The dialect of Scots from West Central Scotland (ie Glasgow) may be the best known to people outside of scotland but it had a very low standing among the Scots purists themselves with many at one time not even recognising it as proper Scots at all. The Scottish National Dictionary, a work on the Scots language which was 70 years in the making, has in the preface

"owing to the influx of Irish and other foreign immigrants in the industrial area near Glasgow the dialect has become hopelessly corrupt"

It may be urban and less conservative than the other dialects, and it may be more anglicised than the rural dialects in their richer forms, but generally it is now regarded as being a form of Scots.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 06:56 AM

Allan--Trotter in 1901 was making the same remarks as the SND and he dates the corruption as having started near 60 years before that time.
He remarks that some of the older people in Glasgow were still holding out against the corruuption of the Scots language at the time of writing.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 07:09 AM

With regard to the thread title, wouldn't it be fascinating to hear a well-known folk song presented and sung in many different accents by people born and bred in each locality? One could make a CD of it, and people could have opinions as to which version was the most effective/moving/successful etc. Perhaps such a CD exists, I don't know.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 10:03 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAZvus5Hh1o


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Not exactly a folk song Eliza but did it one night at the club one night as a bit fun.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 10:11 AM

Interesting Gutcher. I suppose language is always changing and there will always be people reacting against that change.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Eldergirl
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 11:06 AM

Lol! Allan that's brilliant!
Just goes to show Dylan is universal!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 12:55 PM

Thanks it was an interesting exercise. I must admit I anglicised just a couple of words,or at least didn't Borderise them as I could have done, to make the rhyme. So it threw up some problems but in the long run it gives you far more possible rhymes if you have the option to Scotticise or not :-)

The only bit I regret on the vid is using the word 'gloamin' as it is not something I'd use in everyday speech. Should have said "derk side o the road" rather than "glaomin in the road"


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Jim McLean
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 01:59 PM

There was a cartoon a few years ago showing a Centurian holding a candle in one hand and a Highland collie on a lead in the other.
The caption read " Roman in the gloamin' wi' a Lassie by his side".


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 02:35 PM

Hahahahahaha! So funny, Jim!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 03:38 PM

And where did I hear that the best English is spoken in Dublin? (Not necessarily referring to the accent, methinks!)

As for Eliza's idea: same song in different accents - let's do it!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Mysha
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 10:03 PM

Well,

In Frisian, there are two large dialect groups, and the language of the capital is Stêdsk, which isn't Frisian at all. In such a setting, you learn rather early-on that there's no single correct version of a language.

I do sing songs in English, a foreign language to me, if one not that different from Frisian, and I also sing in other languages sometimes. I've always done so, sometimes even when I could understand very little of the words but just wanted to reproduce the nice sound of the song. And when recreating a song that way, I guess reproducing the country, dialect, and accent would be part of it, even if I'm not very good at doing so consciously.

But when I want to get the meaning of a song across, then it's different. Then I have to - understand it and - be understandable to the audience. Depending on the audience, I might have to stay close to Dutch School English, or try for something that sounds more, well, English. In some sessions, as the taste around here is for Irish Folk rather than English, I might even have to sound a bit Irish, to not distract the others with my language.

And over in England? Well, I've had one case where I could not make the difference between "head" and "hat", and so spoiled a good poem. But apparently my singing can usually be understood, and the listeners accept a foreigner trying to sing the language. (And that includes Twa Corbies, as it has to sound right to make it work next to Twa Roeken, in Frisian.)

I guess that it's by the kindness shown by the English that I can get away with accents and mistakes, even if those may sometimes be distracting. It does beg the question, though, whether there's a reason not to show that same kindness to native singers making a good effort, their distractions being much subtler than mine.

                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Gutcher
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 05:48 AM

To return to the OP an example:--
[!] Owre the bauks and alang the riggin the gurly wind is soughin    blawin.
    And lood loods the blatter o the coorse rain ondingin.
    Nae fishin the nicht, the Guidman tae the fire is drawn.
    At the windae tae her bairn his young wife is singin.

[ch]Gyang awa frae the windae bogie man.
    Gyang awa frae the windae bogie man.
    It wis the wind and the rain that brocht yer daddie hame.
    Sae gyang awa frae the windae bogie man.

Now the chorus can be translated to a singable English but I doubt if the same can be done for the verse.

The song is about a young wife who is receiving visits from a young man when her older husband is away at the fishing. When there is adverse weather and the husband is at home his wife stands at the window and sings to her child as a warning to her lover not to visit her that night.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 06:48 AM

I wouldn't dream of anglicising a song like that - it wouldn't seem like 'anglicising', in fact, it would seem like translating it from Scots into English.

Perhaps we can distinguish between songs that are in Scots and those that are in English with some Scots vocabulary & word forms? Take Child's Sheath and Knife, for example (variant A):

He's taen his sister doun to her father's deer park,
Wi his yew-tree bow and arrows fast slung to his back.

'Now when that ye hear me gie a loud cry,
Shoot frae thy bow an arrow and there let me lye.


It looks recognisably 'Scottish', but it drops into standard English like shelling peas - you hardly need to change anything. A song like Twa Corbies, on the other hand -

As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies makin a mane;
The tane unto the ither say,
"Whar sall we gang and dine the-day?"


- that's Scots. As an English singer you either sing it as it's written and take your chances with the accent, or you translate it (alone, two, moan, one, other, where, shall, go, today, and so on through the rest of the song). Or leave it alone, of course.

Having said that, I think I could probably do a passable impression of a Scot singing that song, just as I can do a reasonable impression of a Yorkshireman singing "Old Molly Metcalfe": when you learn a song from a single source, the accent and intonation of the singer sticks with you. But there would always be a temptation to "do" an accent, and (unless you're an impressionist) the accents you consciously put on are rarely recognisable to anyone else.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 06:49 AM

Damn - tag fail. Let's try again.

I wouldn't dream of anglicising a song like that - it wouldn't seem like 'anglicising', in fact, it would seem like translating it from Scots into English.

Perhaps we can distinguish between songs that are in Scots and those that are in English with some Scots vocabulary & word forms? Take Child's Sheath and Knife, for example (variant A):

He's taen his sister doun to her father's deer park,
Wi his yew-tree bow and arrows fast slung to his back.

'Now when that ye hear me gie a loud cry,
Shoot frae thy bow an arrow and there let me lye.


It looks recognisably 'Scottish', but it drops into standard English like shelling peas - you hardly need to change anything. A song like Twa Corbies, on the other hand -

As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies makin a mane;
The tane unto the ither say,
"Whar sall we gang and dine the-day?"


- that's Scots. As an English singer you either sing it as it's written and take your chances with the accent, or you translate it (alone, two, moan, one, other, where, shall, go, today, and so on through the rest of the song). Or leave it alone, of course.

Having said that, I think I could probably do a passable impression of a Scot singing that song, just as I can do a reasonable impression of a Yorkshireman singing "Old Molly Metcalfe": when you learn a song from a single source, the accent and intonation of the singer sticks with you. But there would always be a temptation to "do" an accent, and (unless you're an impressionist) the accents you consciously put on are rarely recognisable to anyone else.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 07:51 AM

As a Geordie, I'd have little hesitation in attempting most songs from Scotland or Ireland- I'd draw the line at bothy ballads and the Freedom come allye' where there are a lot of Scots language words- likewise in Irish songs, the Irish/Scots Gaelic songs being out of bounds completely. I'd be much more wary of songs from southern parts of England, and I am sure southern singers are aware of similar difficulties, which are not just of language but of culture.
A song I've sung in the south is Ed Pickford's anthem to old age- 'Nee bliddy good gettin' aad'- now that is fairly easily translatable, and I have given the words to several singers in the south- (Ed loves his songs to be sung!)but the rhyming is difficult for non- Northeasteners- examples being

Your pub's never hord of a domino board and
Aa think that ye'll find that ye can't get yer wind (short 'i' sound'

these are Shiney Row rhymes and are hard to translate to what is laughingly called Standard English (there's no such thing!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: jacqui.c
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 09:06 AM

Interesting thread, particularly since right now I'm learning Jock of Hazeldene (the Corries version). As a result of reading this thread I did a tiny bit of research on the song - very interesting!

As a Norf Londoner who has had to tone the accent down after the eight and a half years I've lived in Maine, I'm still a little concerned that my rendition of this song won't offend too many ears but have decided that, since I really like the song, I'll give it a go. Luckily the Corries version doesn't have too many dialect words, unlike Dick Gaugan's version, which I wouldn't even try to attempt. I'll use what dialect there is but won't even try to go all Scottish on this one.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Different Accents/Dialects
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Sep 18 - 10:10 AM

Ye'll nivvor Knaa jist hoo much aa luv ye
Ye'll nivvor knaa just hoo much aa care
And if aa tried aa stiil cuddent hide me luv for ye
Surely ye ,knaa coz hevvent aa telt ye so,
A million an' mair times.....'

(from the singing of the late Foster Charlton, Northumbrian piper extraordinaire & occasional singer)


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