The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #119162   Message #2581958
Posted By: Don Firth
05-Mar-09 - 02:29 PM
Thread Name: trad. song in duet form
Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
Interesting question. I don't know if there is any specific category of such songs. Some songs do lend themselves very well to two parts. For example, the sea chantey, "Go down, you blood red roses." Having heard it sung as a duet (powerful harmony, mostly in fifths), I have a hard time imagining it sung solo.

Working out a harmony gets you into the realm of music theory. If you know what the accompanying chords are, you can choose notes in the chords other than the melody notes, so that you are a third above or below. Or any other interval (two simultaneous but different notes) that sounds good. Some people can do it off the top of their heads, but for most of us, it takes a little pre-planning.

Back in 1963, Judy Flenniken and I did several concerts together in which we sang a fair number of what might be called "dialog songs." Songs like "Paper of Pins," "Jenny Jenkins," and "Buffalo Boy" lent themselves very nicely to comedy. And with a male and a female voice, one can turn a few ballads into fairly powerful "mini-operas." Ballads like "Lord Randal," a conversation between a mother and her dying son;   or "Edward," a conversation between—who? A man and a woman, but who are they? Most versions of the ballad don't indicate, they just let the dialog carry the story (who did what to whom, and why? The ballad doesn't say).

Don Firth