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Singing Affectation?

Mr Happy 16 Mar 08 - 07:28 AM
The Villan 16 Mar 08 - 07:56 AM
Kiss Me Slow Slap Me Quick 16 Mar 08 - 08:00 AM
Mr Happy 16 Mar 08 - 08:03 AM
The Villan 16 Mar 08 - 08:34 AM
GUEST,Santa 16 Mar 08 - 08:40 AM
Bob the Postman 16 Mar 08 - 08:42 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Mar 08 - 08:54 AM
The Villan 16 Mar 08 - 09:30 AM
The Villan 16 Mar 08 - 09:34 AM
Mr Happy 16 Mar 08 - 09:52 AM
Mr Happy 16 Mar 08 - 10:13 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Mar 08 - 10:18 AM
Folkiedave 16 Mar 08 - 10:27 AM
The Villan 16 Mar 08 - 10:31 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Mar 08 - 10:55 AM
M.Ted 16 Mar 08 - 01:19 PM
Barry Finn 16 Mar 08 - 01:43 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Mar 08 - 01:53 PM
meself 16 Mar 08 - 02:04 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Mar 08 - 02:15 PM
Peace 16 Mar 08 - 02:17 PM
meself 16 Mar 08 - 02:21 PM
The Villan 16 Mar 08 - 02:43 PM
Bert 16 Mar 08 - 02:58 PM
M.Ted 16 Mar 08 - 03:06 PM
Big Al Whittle 16 Mar 08 - 03:27 PM
The Villan 16 Mar 08 - 03:30 PM
Don Firth 16 Mar 08 - 04:43 PM
M.Ted 17 Mar 08 - 12:09 AM
Cool Beans 17 Mar 08 - 05:05 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 17 Mar 08 - 05:50 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 Mar 08 - 07:04 PM
Folkiedave 17 Mar 08 - 08:03 PM
Folkiedave 17 Mar 08 - 08:08 PM
Steve Shaw 17 Mar 08 - 08:41 PM
Herga Kitty 17 Mar 08 - 08:49 PM
Folkiedave 17 Mar 08 - 08:57 PM
Folkiedave 17 Mar 08 - 09:00 PM
Steve Shaw 17 Mar 08 - 09:24 PM
Ref 17 Mar 08 - 09:32 PM
JWB 17 Mar 08 - 09:38 PM
The Sandman 18 Mar 08 - 02:53 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 18 Mar 08 - 03:58 PM
The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive) 18 Mar 08 - 04:20 PM
Don Firth 18 Mar 08 - 04:28 PM
Steve Shaw 18 Mar 08 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 18 Mar 08 - 06:07 PM
Don Firth 18 Mar 08 - 07:16 PM
Don Firth 18 Mar 08 - 07:42 PM
Big Al Whittle 18 Mar 08 - 07:44 PM
Steve Shaw 18 Mar 08 - 07:49 PM
Richard Bridge 18 Mar 08 - 07:54 PM
the lemonade lady 18 Mar 08 - 07:55 PM
Big Al Whittle 18 Mar 08 - 08:04 PM
dick greenhaus 18 Mar 08 - 08:43 PM
Steve Shaw 18 Mar 08 - 08:51 PM
Don Firth 18 Mar 08 - 10:33 PM
Richard Bridge 19 Mar 08 - 03:30 AM
Richard Bridge 19 Mar 08 - 03:32 AM
Dave Roberts 19 Mar 08 - 04:11 AM
Dave Roberts 19 Mar 08 - 04:12 AM
MARINER 19 Mar 08 - 06:12 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 Mar 08 - 06:53 AM
Steve Shaw 19 Mar 08 - 07:29 AM
The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive) 19 Mar 08 - 03:21 PM
M.Ted 19 Mar 08 - 03:24 PM
The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive) 19 Mar 08 - 03:29 PM
Herga Kitty 19 Mar 08 - 03:46 PM
Don Firth 19 Mar 08 - 08:01 PM
GUEST,Rio slightly in tune 19 Mar 08 - 10:02 PM
Don Firth 19 Mar 08 - 10:54 PM
Deckman 20 Mar 08 - 01:09 AM
Big Al Whittle 20 Mar 08 - 03:03 AM
stormalong 20 Mar 08 - 06:06 AM
matt milton 20 Mar 08 - 07:41 AM
matt milton 20 Mar 08 - 08:04 AM
Big Al Whittle 20 Mar 08 - 08:19 AM
matt milton 20 Mar 08 - 08:55 AM
Richard Bridge 20 Mar 08 - 09:13 AM
matt milton 20 Mar 08 - 10:20 AM
the lemonade lady 20 Mar 08 - 02:39 PM
the lemonade lady 20 Mar 08 - 02:50 PM
Don Firth 20 Mar 08 - 02:58 PM
Bee 20 Mar 08 - 03:19 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 20 Mar 08 - 03:25 PM
JedMarum 20 Mar 08 - 03:51 PM
John MacKenzie 20 Mar 08 - 03:54 PM
Don Firth 20 Mar 08 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 20 Mar 08 - 04:04 PM
JedMarum 20 Mar 08 - 04:09 PM
Big Mick 20 Mar 08 - 04:18 PM
JedMarum 20 Mar 08 - 04:21 PM
M.Ted 20 Mar 08 - 06:27 PM
Richard Bridge 20 Mar 08 - 06:46 PM
Don Firth 20 Mar 08 - 06:52 PM
John MacKenzie 20 Mar 08 - 06:57 PM
Don Firth 20 Mar 08 - 07:24 PM
Don Firth 20 Mar 08 - 07:25 PM
the button 20 Mar 08 - 08:08 PM
Deckman 20 Mar 08 - 08:19 PM
Gene Burton 20 Mar 08 - 08:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 20 Mar 08 - 09:10 PM
Grab 20 Mar 08 - 10:04 PM
Don Firth 20 Mar 08 - 11:13 PM
GUEST,mankishotey 20 Mar 08 - 11:19 PM
Richard Bridge 20 Mar 08 - 11:35 PM
Big Al Whittle 21 Mar 08 - 04:27 AM
Richard Bridge 21 Mar 08 - 04:43 AM
GUEST,MacColl fan 21 Mar 08 - 06:55 AM
Big Mick 21 Mar 08 - 09:01 AM
GUEST,Blind Willie O'Shea 21 Mar 08 - 09:14 AM
mattkeen 21 Mar 08 - 09:55 AM
matt milton 21 Mar 08 - 11:54 AM
Bert 21 Mar 08 - 12:08 PM
Big Mick 21 Mar 08 - 12:17 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 21 Mar 08 - 12:34 PM
meself 21 Mar 08 - 12:56 PM
wayfarer 21 Mar 08 - 01:01 PM
Don Firth 21 Mar 08 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,Nigel Spencer 21 Mar 08 - 01:18 PM
Brian Peters 21 Mar 08 - 01:25 PM
BB 21 Mar 08 - 02:55 PM
Don Firth 21 Mar 08 - 03:08 PM
JedMarum 21 Mar 08 - 03:30 PM
SINSULL 21 Mar 08 - 04:53 PM
GUEST,Steve Gardham 21 Mar 08 - 06:47 PM
the lemonade lady 21 Mar 08 - 07:40 PM
the lemonade lady 21 Mar 08 - 07:41 PM
Don Firth 21 Mar 08 - 08:36 PM
Don Firth 21 Mar 08 - 08:40 PM
Big Al Whittle 21 Mar 08 - 08:46 PM
ShayVeno 21 Mar 08 - 10:19 PM
Janie 21 Mar 08 - 11:41 PM
Brian Peters 22 Mar 08 - 07:21 AM
the lemonade lady 22 Mar 08 - 12:19 PM
Marje 22 Mar 08 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 22 Mar 08 - 01:02 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Mar 08 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,Blind Willie O'Shea 22 Mar 08 - 02:05 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Mar 08 - 02:27 PM
Don Firth 22 Mar 08 - 03:05 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 22 Mar 08 - 03:16 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 07:28 AM

One of my pet hates/ irritations on hearing singers’ contributions is when sometimes they’ll affect a ‘foreign’ accent or inappropriate phrasing of the lyrics.

I’m talking here about people who are not of the particular culture from where their chosen song originates.

Examples of this kind of behaviour include those trying to sound like Christy Moore or Ronnie Drew & putting on an ‘oirish’ accent.

Piles of Bob Dylan impersonators, monologists doing Lancs/Yorks stuff in ridiculous voices, non-Geordies trying to do ‘Cushy Butterfield’ type songs etc

Or the 'classic' Dick van Dyke 'Cockney'

Also with some Scottish songs, I’ve heard some excruciatingly ludicrous renditions.

Like this:http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_p4p4_QHt5I


This kind of performance really makes me cringe. am I alone in this opinion?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: The Villan
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 07:56 AM

Do you mean like this Mr Happy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFLu6bu7LEk


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Kiss Me Slow Slap Me Quick
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 08:00 AM

Not sure where Charlie Zahm hales from but he is no worse than most kilted baladeers that perform, record and make videos, here in Auld Scotia. However, as I have found in the past, a lot of folks arround Mudcat seem to think that the 5 pet hates you have listed are requirements for performers and have little tolerance for any who dare to express conterary ideas.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 08:03 AM

That clip's fragmented - keeps stopping.

Do you have another example?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: The Villan
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 08:34 AM

Must be your download speed. I don't have any problems.

Try this one then

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wixz_r7v51E&feature=related


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 08:40 AM

Yes, sometimes it grates. Sometimes it is unavoidable: many songs cannot be sung without making some attempt at local dialect and hence unavoidably the accent. However, the alternative appears to stop any performers from singing any songs from outside the area of their particular accent/dialect. That seems like an even worse idea to me.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 08:42 AM

Yeah, but even Bob Dylan has to fake it to sound like Bob Dylan, we just happen to be used to him by now. Back in '62 folks said "listen to that idiot trying to sound like Woody Guthrie, and him born and raised in Minnesota".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 08:54 AM

Sometimes it might be the speaking voice that is inauthentic, not the singing voice...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: The Villan
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 09:30 AM

This one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTYnk3vneI0&feature=related


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: The Villan
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 09:34 AM

oops or was it this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYyxhWEHO3w&feature=related


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 09:52 AM

Ok, I've listened to the Barcelona clip.

That's different to what I meant, the opera singer isn't trying to sound English even though she's singing in English


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 10:13 AM

Like the kilt guy is affecting his version of a Scottish accent


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 10:18 AM

Some people need a mask to perform. they have been made to feel uncomfortable in whichever voice or persona they inhabit.
I tend to remember the words of the painter Charles Strickland in The Moon and Sixpence. 'when a man falls inthe water he has to swim it doesn't matter whether he does it well or badly. he has to swim. I have to paint - I can do no other.'

that is why I get so pissed off with all these people insisting about everything having to be 'in the tradition'. the urge to sing is natural and within us all and its not a destructive instinct, like wanting to kill or hurt. It is worthy of respect, and it is the very root of folk music itself - even if its in an accent you don't approve of.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 10:27 AM

Of course one well-known folk club had a policy that went "you sing in a language that you could speak and understand".

Seems about right to me.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: The Villan
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 10:31 AM

much the same to me :-)

You mean like people trying to take off the cockneys
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxCrSgPWmsk&feature=related


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 10:55 AM

all I know is, I feel so strongly about this music that I would rather be in even the most atrocious folk clubs where someone needs the words written down of Take me Home Country Roads - or even worse where some idiot has appointed himself a sort of magistrate of the folk tradition and reads the Ballad of Tam Lin from his loose leaf folder in a way that would enetertain or enlighten no one; than most other places.

You never know - these are the places where folk music happens. Where people with all their limitations are trying to make it happen, and that, as I say, is worthy of respect.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 01:19 PM

which is it, The Villan, Montserrat Caballé or Freddy Mercury? Or is it just the distinctly bizarre combination of the two? Anyway, thanks for posting the link, as my daughter and I have spent the last hour and a half or so watching all the other Queen clips--which are great fun!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 01:43 PM

If you want to hold others to those expections then do the same. That may cut your repertoire by 75% maybe in some cases for some people 90%. For me I'd be shit out of luck as I have a very thich Bostonian accent & I don't have any local songs that I can do in that accent. I can do some NYC folk songs but my Brooklin & Bronks accents suck so under these guidlines I can't even do those. There goes my repertoire of cowboy songs too. I do a lot of shanties, but I've yet to hear many/any who talk & sing like the few old deep water sailors that I've met & heard who've spent their lives at sea. I sing a bit at the sessions I go to & some of the singers are Irish some not but if the singers are good it makes no difference where they're from they keep getting asked to sing, all the time.
Me, I'm content to do as I do, I haven't heard any complaints about my accent. Maybe it's a personnal thing for you & you should keep it that way. You'll be sticking close to home though & you'll be cutting down on the music intake too.
Good Luck
Barry


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 01:53 PM

"There goes my repertoire of cowboy songs too." Why? I'm sure there were cowboys who came from Boston. And definitely lots of sailors who haled from there.

Actors are expected to adopt a way of talking that fits the character they are portraying. Singing (and storytelling) can often be a form of acting, in which case why shouldn't the same apply in this situation too?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: meself
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 02:04 PM

"no worse than most kilted baladeers that perform, record and make videos, here in Auld Scotia"

Not saying it doesn't happen, but I can't recall actually hearing any laid-on-thick Scottish accents in Nova Scotia, and I've spent a fair bit of time there ...

On the other hand, most of the "Irish" pub bands put on accents, or they used to, anyway, not sure if that's done as much now ...

(I didn't look at the vid. clip; my download is too slow; so apologies if I've missed the point).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 02:15 PM

I do aim not to sing in fake accents. I think it's very patronising. If I walked into a pub in many parts of Glasgow and started putting on a fake scottish accent (my middle name being "MacDonald", and all) I'd be lucky to walk out alive.

THe problem is that I speak RP with the corruption of a few years in Australia when I was rather young, so I finish up sounding like nothing on earth, and I don't know any Martian folk songs.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Peace
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 02:17 PM

I like singers who do good songs well.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: meself
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 02:21 PM

On the other hand, when I was young, and had only just begun the cultivation of this forbidding demeanour, I'd occasionally be approached by a Scot who would insist that I give some certain word in a song the Scots pronunciation, as opposed to my native pronunciation ... So I suppose it all depends ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: The Villan
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 02:43 PM

MTed
It was the combination of the two. However i quite like it, cause its a good en forhave a good old blast at :-)
Thats the great thing about the links. If you like the performer, you can spend ages looking at the rest.
For me Queen is King. They will be the folk tradition of future years me thinks. They do better songs for communal singing than the Welsh Rugby supporters :-)
Les


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Bert
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 02:58 PM

I don't think that you are alone Mr. Happy, but your views are too extreme for me.

There is the world of difference between a singer impersonating someone and a singer trying to make sense of a song that is not in their own culture.

I hate the Dylan singalikes too, but I sing songs from all over the place and some of the words cannot be sung in Standard English.

In some songs a fake accent is required, otherwise songs like "Cosher Bailey's Engine" would sound really silly.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 03:06 PM

You are right, Les. Queen is King. The songs and the music speak to the little ones, in a way that our much touted "Child ballads" do not. That's what it's all about. Rock on!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 03:27 PM

I believe in singing - good songs badly or bad songs - it really doesn't matter. In a way that song is just the start of the story.

Who knows where the singers journey will take him or her. You would never have guessed Freddie Mercury was South African from his singing voice. Only when he spoke you could pick up the odd inflection of accent.

these kids who turn up at our clubs with their shit songs, rubbish guitar techniques, general cluelessness - we have so much to pass on to them, and we won't do it by turning our backs on them.

In a way I feel they are the true inheritors of the tradition (in so much as they have the raw ambition of self expression) rather than the kids who have grown up in folkie families and have accepted their parents vision. I see more of myself in them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: The Villan
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 03:30 PM

MTed
My daughters who are 11 and 16 can sing almost every Queen song off by heart and they think they are God.
I think I did a good job there :-)
Les


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 04:43 PM

I have to agree with Barry. If I were to drop all the songs in my repertoire that require some kind of accent in order not to sound bizarre, that would eliminate a whole batch of songs that I've been singing for years. And, if I may be so bold as to say so, people seem to enjoy hearing me sing them. I draw that conclusion from the fact that these are some of my most requested songs.

I was born in Southern California and moved to Seattle when I was nine years old, and I've lived here most of my life. As far as Americans are concerned, most West Coast dwellers such as me seem "accentless." No New England accent, no Southern drawl, no Midwestern "twang." Most people hearing me talk can't determine what part of the country I'm from (but probably not from Maine, Alabama, or South Dakota). On top of that, I've had training in "broadcast English," which further renders my speech what might be called "neutral American." I seem to have a pretty good ear for accents, and can do a creditable imitation of almost any accent after listening to the real thing for a bit. A fun side-effect of this is that I'm pretty good with dialect jokes.

I sing songs from a wide variety of places, and I generally don't try to put on any kind of accent unless the song calls for it. The vocabulary in a lot of Scottish songs and ballads simply demand the use of an accent, otherwise the song just doesn't work. Try singing
Sae rantin'ly, sae wantonly,
Sae dauntin'ly gaed he.
He played a tune an' he danced it 'roon,
Below the gallows tree.
without giving it a bit of a Scottish burr, and that would sound weird. The same with
Me name is Dick Darby, I'm a cobbler.
without goin' a bit Irish!

I watched the YouTube links, then did a quick check of Charlie Zahm's web site, which indicates that he's making a pretty substantial career out of this sort of thing (one helluva schedule of appearances and a ton of CDs! But I'd never heard of him before this thread). On hearing him sing, I concluded that his problem with accents is that he just doesn't do them very well. He has a very nice voice (obviously had some classical training—a bit too obviously, perhaps), but he doesn't seem to have a real "feel" for the songs, at least the ones I've heard him do. Part of the problem as far as his accent is concerned is that he doesn't do it consistently. He needs to "think Scottish." Without that, just wearing a kilt and standing there with the loch in the background just doesn't cut it. It seems a bit pretentious.

But just because he doesn't do it well doesn't mean I'm going to stop doing what I do. As long as people keep asking me for the songs—and until someone comes up to me and says, "Firth, that really stinks!"—I'm going to keep on keeping on.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: M.Ted
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 12:09 AM

Freddy wasn't South African--he was born in Zanzibar, but his parents were both Parsis, who had come from India--

Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia article:

Freddie Mercury was born in Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania. His parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara,[a] were Parsis from the province of Gujarat in India.[10][b] The family surname is derived from the town of Bulsar (also known as Valsad) in southern Gujarat. As Parsis, the family practiced the Zoroastrian religion. The family had moved to Zanzibar in order for his father to continue his job as a cashier at the British Colonial Office. He had one younger sister, Kashmira.
Mercury was sent back to India at the age of 8 to attend St. Peter's School, a boarding school for boys at Panchgani near Bombay (now Mumbai).

And here's a very unfortunate bit of news, from the Wikipedia article on Zanzibar:

Zanzibar criminalised gay and lesbian sex in 2004. In September 2006, a radical Islamic group on the archipelago, Uamsho, forced organizers to abandon plans to mark the 60th birthday of the late Freddie Mercury (born Farouk Bulsara into the Parsi community of Stone Town, who reached fame as the lead singer of the rock group Queen), saying he violated Islam with his openly gay lifestyle.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 05:05 PM

I like all of you and Freddy Mercury and the quote from "The Moon and Sixpence," and some songs sound better with an accent and some sound afffected with an accent and let us have the wisdom to tell the difference and to all get along.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 05:50 PM

I speak with an odd enough accent as it is, and to fake an accent while singing a song would be just plain ridiculous, besides I like my natural singing voice.

Charlotte (the view from Ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 07:04 PM

You should try walking a mile on another man's piano stool, Charlotte.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 08:03 PM

For me Queen is King. They will be the folk tradition of future years me thinks.

Indeed - try Chris Pitt and "Bohemian Rhapsody".

I believe in singing - good songs badly or bad songs - it really doesn't matter

Good enough for folk eh?

You would never have guessed Freddie Mercury was South African from his singing voice

Probably because he wasn't!!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 08:08 PM

Montserrat Caballe story:

When asked what the people of Barcelona say when they see her in the street she was quoted as saying:

Those that know me say "There goes Montserrat Caballe" and those that don't say "There goes one big fat woman".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 08:41 PM

There's a sort of middle-England, fairly nasal, not-quite-south but vaguely norf of Landon accent, veering slightly Norfolkwards, that some English folkies adopt to make them sound sort of villagey-rusticky-I'm-a-yokel-shagging-a-maid-in-the-corn-afore-a-sheep-shearing-or-a-begging-I-will-go. It's very affected and has put millions off taking folk-song seriously, almost as much as finger-in-ear syndrome has. No names, no flames. Mind you, people who sing in their natural accent can grate as well. I always thought Shirley Collins carried it off wonderfully in her own natural voice, whereas I can't listen for more than a minute with buttocks unclenched to Ms Rusby's Yorkshire twang. I don't know what it is. Maybe I'll stick to instrumental.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 08:49 PM

Folkiedave - Chris Pitt and Bohemian Rhapsody? - tell us more.....?

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 08:57 PM

Kitty,

Delighted to do so. One of CP's party pieces - though he needs a drink or two first, is to conduct the assembled company in "Bohemian Rhapsody".

What makes it hilarious is the conducting.....

But he does need a drink or two. Seen it twice........brilliant.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 09:00 PM

It's 'cos she cums from Barnsley. Thi' all talk/sing like that theear.

You can accuse Kate of somethings but changing her accent isn't one of them.

Dave (who saw her the first time she appeared in public).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 09:24 PM

I'm a Lancashire lad missen, which could explain the aversion. I can't stand bloody Parkie either.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Ref
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 09:32 PM

I often sing with a bit of accent because I was coached to "sing British" as a young fellow for diction purposes. I hope nobody would consider it insulting.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: JWB
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 09:38 PM

In my early years of learning songs, I would learn them by ear, off of records and tapes, without access to the written lyrics (this being pre-Internet days). I found it really tough NOT to sing with the British or Irish accents of the performers I was listening so intently to. Probably some sort of aural-memory brain connection thing. It took an effort of concentration to sing a song I learned from a Louis Killen record in an American (my native) accent. So in those days I wasn't trying to sound like a Geordie, I couldn't help it.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 02:53 PM

just sing and enjoy it.
Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 03:58 PM

"You should try walking a mile on another man's piano stool, Charlotte."

I don't fake accents, it's that simple.

Charlotte (the view from Ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive)
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 04:20 PM

"Shirley Collins carried it off wonderfully in her own natural voice"

that's the perfect example of the use of the natural voice without faking the accent...and to Kate Rusby, I say, keeping doing what you do with the voice you have and bugger what others think! :-)

Charlotte (the view from ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 04:28 PM

Charlotte, how do you feel about singing a French song in—say—French? By that line of reasoning, wouldn't that be "faking" an entire language?

(Take that, Theodore Bikel and Cynthia Gooding!!)

If you can pronounce the language or dialect correctly (and one can do that in one's own "natural voice"), there is nothing "fake" about it. The only quibble I have is when people don't do it well.

And if you can't do it well, you probably shouldn't.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 04:38 PM

I agree that Kate shouldn't give a bugger what anyone thinks. But I still can't unclench my buttocks when I hear it!   I'm just a sad case.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 06:07 PM

"Charlotte, how do you feel about singing a French song in—say—French? By that line of reasoning, wouldn't that be "faking" an entire language?"

well as I don't speak French that would hardly be a problemfor me

and like K Rusby and S Collins, I'll stick with my voice.

Charlotte (the view from ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 07:16 PM

Well, I stick with my voice, and I do dialects and accents when appropriate. I've been doing it since the early 1950s in coffeehouses, concerts, and on television, and I've never had anyone react to it negatively. In fact, a few people have commented on how naturally I seen to be able to do it. But most people don't even notice, because it goes with the song itself, and it would sound peculiar if I didn't do it.

What gravels me is when some city kid who has a perfectly nice sounding singing voice naturally, and who wants to be a "folk singer," does his damnedest to sound like he's eighty years old, toothless, and just rode into town with a load of parsnips. That's faking. That sort of thing is what's phony. I heard that a lot in the 1960s, and by a few "big names," too!

I watch a fair amount of British dramas and comedies on my local PBS channels—"Masterpiece Theatre," "Mystery," and various "Brit-coms." I have seen American characters being played on some of these shows and, at the time, was thoroughly convinced that the character was indeed an American. Then, I find out later that the actor who played the role was British. And in their normal speech, they sounded British, not American. They had "faked" a "generic" American accent so well that they brought the role off convincingly. If they can manage that, then I'd say "mission accomplished."

The same goes for accents and dialects in singing. One can sing in one's own natural voice and, at the same time, adopt a dialect or accent, the same as the actor does. Actually, in intention, there is not that much difference between singing and acting, and unless one confines oneself to a very narrow category of songs or roles, the ability to do accents and dialects well is an essential part of a performer's tool kit.

Again, if a person can do it well, then fine. But if they can't, then they'd better leave it alone.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 07:42 PM

By the way, when it comes to singing in a foreign language, there are opera singers who can sing in four or five different languages, but they can't actually speak the language. Learning the correct pronunciations in languages like French, Italian, and German, is part of an opera singer's training. They don't have to be able to carry on a conversation in the language, just pronounce it correctly.

American soprano Renée Fleming's big break came when, unlike several other sopranos who had been offered the role of Rusalka but refused it, was willing to tackle learning to sing in Czech. As I understand it, she doesn't speak Czech, but she can sing in the language.

Way back, when I was taking some voice lessons, my teacher had me singing a few songs in French and Italian. I took French in high school, but never had much of a chance to use it conversationally, so it pretty well slid into the fog. And I can't speak Italian at all, but if I look at written Italian, I can read it aloud as if I actually knew what it meant. By the way, if I do learn a song in another language, I most assuredly make it a point to learn what the words mean.

After that, wrapping my mouth around a Scots burr or an Irish brogue is duck-soup.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 07:44 PM

This is crazy stuff

Koerner, Ray and Glover
Gerry Lockran
Martin Carthy
Ewan Macoll and Peggy Seeger

None of em sing like they talked. All made massive contributions to our music.

Why not just stand up and say in a proud happy voice - I DON'T LIKE THIS BUGGER AND WHAT HE DOES. Its not compulsory to like everything - even worthy interesting music made by nice people.

rather than thinking up fancy rationalisations of your dislike.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 07:49 PM

Alternatively, I DO LIKE THIS BUGGER AND WHAT HE DOES, BUT I DON'T LIKE THE BLOODY WAY HE'S DOING IT. Well done for mentioning Carthy and MacColl, two of the biggest culprits. Geniuses, but culprits.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 07:54 PM

Er - what is the criticism of Martin Carthy in this context? I find his singing and speaking voices very similar.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Singing Affectation?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 07:55 PM

"Kate Rusby, I say, keeping doing what you do with the voice you have and bugger what others think!"

She must take crits well, cos she gets a lot of it.

Sal (having been for a long walk in the sunshine)


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 08:04 PM

Well Martin Carthy doesn't MEAN to be singing in the same accent as he speaks Richard. he has discussed the personas he adopts in several interviews. One was his 'jolly sailor voice', I can't remember what he said his other one was - I'm thinking of issues of Guitar magazine - sometime in the 1980's.

There was no criticism - just informed comment.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 08:43 PM

To coin a phrase yet again--whatever works. If your affectation disturbes the audience, stop using it. If not, full speed ahead.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 08:51 PM

One man's fish is another man's poisson.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 10:33 PM

Aptly put, Steve!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 03:30 AM

It might well be possible, Al, that Martin's use of voice has changed since the 80s. His guitar work certainly has.

It is possible, Don, that you are an exceptionally gifted person with accents, but I have never yet heard any American film actor (and their business is acting, not singing) capable of affecting any English accent convincingly, not even the much lauded Meryl Streep.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 03:32 AM

I should also add that I have never heard any other non-English person likewise capable - not even (for example) the much lauded Peter Ustinov.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Dave Roberts
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 04:11 AM

I thought Renée Zellweger did an astonishingly authentic Emglish accent in Bridget Jones' Diary.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Dave Roberts
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 04:12 AM

Or English, even.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: MARINER
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 06:12 AM

The amount of singers in Ireland who sing with a false "DUBALIN" accect is amazing.Even Christy Mooore did in his early day's ,in my opinion .But it's when they find their "own" voices that the singing becomes more relaxed and natural.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 06:53 AM

The late Tony Capstick explained it to me once. he said that's how you start - you pasionately admire some kind of music and you try and copy it. (I was telling him about a Brummie mate of mine who copied his Yorkshire accent.) Tony's first role models were the Irish singers.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 07:29 AM

I think Nic Jones is another who found his real voice after his earliest forays.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive)
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 03:21 PM

'"Kate Rusby, I say, keeping doing what you do with the voice you have and bugger what others think!"

She must take crits well, cos she gets a lot of it.'

It's my understanding the she, in the main, ignores them, which is just as it should be

Charlotte (the view from Ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 03:24 PM

British actors aren't much good with the American accent either, except for Bob Hope.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive)
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 03:29 PM

'British actors aren't much good with the American accent either'

watch Kenneth Branagh in Dead Again...he nailed the L.A. non-accent down perfectly...I was told this by someone who was born and raised in said city.

Charlotte (the view from Ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 03:46 PM

M.Ted - so no hope for Cary Grant, then?

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 08:01 PM

I'm pretty good at it, but I don't think I'm "an exceptionally gifted person with accents." I've heard others do it quite well, both singers and non-singers. My Canadian brother-in-law was a master at dialect jokes and I picked up some my best ones—both jokes and dialects—by listening to him tell them. He was a real Master.

I couldn't give you a list of British actors who can bring off an American accent convincingly, but there are a lot of them. I recall a "Brit-com" that my wife and I followed entitled "As Time Goes By" starring Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer. In the sequence in which Lionel (Palmer) was dealing with Mike Barbosa, an American television producer, and later when he and Jean (Judi Dench) went to Hollywood to discuss Lionel's projected television series, a whole batch of Americans were played by British actors. They brought it off most convincingly. Dame Judi is an Oscar winner and Geoffrey Palmer has distinguished himself many times over in both comedy and as a fine dramatic actor, but the British actors who were portraying the American contingent were not well-known at all. They were just darned good at what they did. What was a real kick in the butt was to hear British actors playing American actors who were trying to affect a British accent! That was a riot!!

As to British actors bringing off an American accent, how about Hugh Laurie, until recently, probably most famous, at least in the States, for playing Bertie Wooster or miscellaneous half-wits in "Blackadder?" He's been starring in an Amercan drama series, entitled "House," in which he plays the cantankerous Dr. Gregory House. A lot of American viewers don't even realize that they're watching a British actor—one, incidentally, who (when using his "natural voice") speaks with a fairly obvious British accent.

Give a listen:    CLICKY.

In 2006 and 2007, Hugh Laurie received Golden Globe awards for his portrayal of the acerbic Dr. House. Now tell me:    is he just a "fake?" Or is he doing what he is being paid to do and doing it very well indeed?

As I have said a number of times on this thread, there are songs that, because of their backgrounds and because of the very words of the songs themselves, demand the use of dialect or accent. If one didn't sing them in the appropriated dialect or accent, they would sound very strange.

But as I have also said a number of times, if you can't do it well, then you'd probably better not do it at all. That will, of course, put a limit on the kind of songs you can do.

The item that started this thread was the singing of Charlie Zahm. And as I have noted, I think he's quite a good singer, but I don't think he does accents and dialects very well.

Don Firth

P. S. Okay, I'll be brutally frank. Professional singers and actors, in an effort to do the best possible job with their songs or roles, adopt accents all the time. It's part of the art of performing. About the only people I have ever heard object to their doing this are folkies who are either trying to assert some kind of phony folkoid "purity" (therefore associating themselves with the "folk police"), or just generally have a bug up their butt.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,Rio slightly in tune
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 10:02 PM

"Seven Drunken Nights" and "Paddy's Bricks" would not sound right without the accent


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 10:54 PM

Exactly so!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Deckman
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 01:09 AM

I have enjoyed Don's singing for 54 years now ... and I have yet to hear him make a single misspronounciation, in dialect or not. This is a man who studies his material in infinite detail When he sings "The Frozen Logger" in Swedish dialect, you ARE lost in Ballard. As he says, if you're going to do it, you damn well better be able to do it well. CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 03:03 AM

Yeh and that Swedish accent is difficult. You should hear my karaoke version of SOS - its taken me twenty years to perfect. Not made any easier by the blonde wig.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: stormalong
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 06:06 AM

Shirley Collins is my all-time favourite folksinger and inspiration. However, she didn't always sing in the style we know and love as authentically unaffected. Her earliest recordings were more Home Countyish. I think she discusses this somewhere, maybe in the booklet to her box set collection.

Like her, I think there is some scope for reverting to roots, even if this is a little more regional and countrified than the way we might speak in office meetings. I've also noticed quite a few people whose regional/country accents become stronger after a visit home and/or several pints, and this tendency can also come out when singing or reciting poetry, quite subconsciously.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: matt milton
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 07:41 AM

"Try singing
Sae rantin'ly, sae wantonly,
Sae dauntin'ly gaed he.
He played a tune an' he danced it 'roon,
Below the gallows tree.
without giving it a bit of a Scottish burr, and that would sound weird.
The same with
Me name is Dick Darby, I'm a cobbler.
without goin' a bit Irish!"

I totally disagree with this quote. Personally I'd sing those lines in the same accent I sing all my songs – a London one, and a quite "sarf Landan" one at that. I would alter the words to suit my voice – it's hardly a great stretch to sing "roon" as "round" for instance. And I can't imagine ever singing "My" as "Me" for an Irish song – if I was Irish I'd heckle someone for singing like that. It would sound comedy and cheesy as hell and more than a little patronising.

I don't buy into that dramaturgical stance – an actor playing a role – at all. If I wanted to do that, I'd join a battle re-enactment society. (Did anyone see that Mitchell & Webb sketch where a Home Counties battle re-enactment society decide to do a Zulu war re-creation? It should be required viewing for this thread.)

I love the way Shirley Collins sings American songs on "Folk Roots, New Routes": exactly how she always sings, without even the tiniest of acknowlegements that she's singing an alien vocabulary.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: matt milton
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 08:04 AM

another thought - was listening to Nick Drake's album "Family Tree" recently. Early home recordings in which he sings a lot of blues songs. He does so in his middle class accent, in his soft-spoken voice. Which is extraordinarily mature of him – he was around 18 at the time. Most white singers, even now in 2008, default to a pompous, ursine bellow and an unconvincing attempt at a Chicago accent (which they can't sustain). Whereas that doesn't seem to have even occurred to young Nick, despite the fact that he was a teenager enthralled by this new exotic music from across the Atlantic. It's a great album, by the way – far superior to the over-produced and rather glutinous first two studio albums IMO.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 08:19 AM

Lets face it Matt, at the moment, you have a comprehensive set of reasons for looking down on people who have given their lives to this music.

You are not alone in this on Mudcat.

However I tend to think this springs from some pretty deep flaws in the personalities of our snotty brethren - rather than a superior appreciation of folk music.

Don't join the assholes. Their destructive cowardly nastiness is written deep in the soul of the English with their bloody awful class system - and its endemic need to discount the worthiness of our fellow humans. the careers they have destroyed and blighted are already legion. God forgive them - I won't.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: matt milton
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 08:55 AM

But where do you draw the line then? Would you not feel a little uncomfortable if you heard, for instance, a white English person affecting a Trinidadian accent to sing a calypso song? I've heard precisely that on an otherwise really enjoyable British folk album. I wasn't the first or the only person in the room to cringe. Now obviously there's a lot more recent historical and cultural baggage attached to that particular example, but for me it's the same root unease.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 09:13 AM

The job of an actor is to achieve suspension of disbelief. He plays a character and the task is to portray that character.

The job of a singer is different.

With you all the way Matt (except about Nick Drake: I haven't heard the early home recordings, but the released stuff I have bought was schmaltzy crap). Even for the same reasons. I've felt that cringe too. I don't sing the blues because I'm not black. That revelation came to me when I was about 25. Now I don't sing Irish songs, almost without exception, because I am not Irish (and I don't fancy praising blowing up British troops). I don't sing American songs, mostly (for similar reasons).

I'll allow myself some Scottish songs since my middle name is MacDonald.

I do some contemporary as well. But I'm not anyone else. I'm me, and I come from Kent.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: matt milton
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 10:20 AM

Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I wouldn't go that far. Seems like you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are good white blues singers. There are plenty of good performances of Irish and Scottish songs by English musicians. Songs are kind of porous anyway – the British Isles just aren't that big – which is partly why I was surprised to read about putting on different accents in the first place.  
You're royally caricaturing Irish song there. Which Irish songs did you used to sing?


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 02:39 PM

'Kate Rusby, I say, keeping doing what you do with the voice you have and bugger what others think!

She must take crits well, cos she gets a lot of it.'

'It's my understanding the (that [?]) she, in the main, ignores them, which is just as it should be'

I thought that was what I said!?

Sal (having just been for a very fast walk to lose weight)


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 02:50 PM

'British actors aren't much good with the American accent either'

'watch Kenneth Branagh in Dead Again...he nailed the L.A. non-accent down perfectly' and mostly the population across the pond can't say the words "mirror" or "squirrel" I've noticed.(Or north american tree rat as I perfer)



Sal (not spending all night infront of the pc)


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 02:58 PM

I have heard that in many of the folk clubs in the British Isles, one is not allowed to sing—or at least one is severely frowned upon if one sings—songs that are not from his or her own background. In other words, if you're not Scottish, you're not allowed to sing a Scots song, or if you are an American singer, you'd better not attempt to sing anything other than American songs. Or so I was told some years ago by a reliable source. I don't know if it's still this way, but from what I read here, it would seem so.

So—just how far does this ban extend? I was born in California and have lived most of my life in the Pacific Northwest. Does that mean that I can't sing songs from New England or the Southern Appalachians? I have to restrict my repertoire to California mining songs or Northwest logging songs?

It appears to me that this is the sentiment that is being expressed by a number of people here.

I absolutely refuse to be restricted in this manner. If a song appeals to me, no matter where it comes from, I will learn it and sing it. And as someone who has spent a good portion of his life singing for paying audiences, I feel that it is my responsibility to those audiences to do the best job I can. And that includes putting any given song into its proper context, which sometimes requires the use of a dialect or accent. If the "I" of a particular song is Scottish, or Irish, or an American cowboy, using that vocabulary and style of speech while singing the song lends to the verisimilitude of the song. This is what an actor does when playing a part, and it's part of the art of performing. An aid the listeners' "willing suspension of disbelief." Yes, I see it as a form of acting. I don't see that there is a significant difference, especially when performing before an audience, between singing and acting.

Incidentally, I do sing a few Caribbean songs. With the appropriate dialect. I don't see how it's possible to sing these songs without adopting the dialect. And I've never had anyone roll their eyes when I sing them.

I don't, however, lather it on too thick. This is a characteristic of doing it badly. But I definitely do it.

But once again:    If you can't do it well, then don't do it!

So, with the wide variety of songs I do, I guess I wouldn't go over too well in British folk clubs, if things are still the way I was told they were. That's okay. I would just go to listen then. There are plenty of other places for me to sing.

Don Firth

P. S. Serendipitously enough, this morning on a locally produced program on KUOW-FM (my local NPR affiliate), Steve Scher spent a hour interviewing Derek Bickerton, a Professor Emeritus of Linguistics. Prof. Bickerton made a number of interesting comments. For example, "An accent or dialect acts as a badge of identity." [An actor or singer, by using the appropriate accent or dialect, identifies himself of herself with the character being portrayed—DF.]

In discussing the point at which a dialect has grown essentially unintelligible to speakers of its parent language and becomes a separate language, Steve Scher asked, "What is the difference between a dialect and a language?" Prof. Bickerton chuckled and responded, "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy."


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Bee
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 03:19 PM

I think what most average singers do, when faced with a song that pretty much demands a dialect or an accent, is to try to the extent of their ability to give a little of the flavour of the original dialect/accent. I think that's acceptable and respects the origins of the song.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 03:25 PM

(Or north american tree rat as I perfer)

that would be the grey/gray squirrel of course *LOL

Charlotte (the tree house view from Ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: JedMarum
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 03:51 PM

I couldn't disagree more with the premise that one ought NOT to sing dialect. The Charlie Zahm video is fine. He is singing a song that was was written in dialect, sung in dialect for generations and he is even singing a fairly modest and modern version on that dialect.

I have heard the "never sing with an accent" argument before, and I totally disagree. As a singer of a song, especially a song written in dialect you have a responsibility to honor that dialect as much as possible.

In the early 19th Century it was popular for Irish writers and performers to purposely use dialect in their poetry and lyrics. Hip hop and Rap artists do the same today - and many many folks style writers (like me) do so too.

an old example:
"twas down by the Glenside I saw an an old woman
She was picking young nettles and she scarce saw me comin'"

Where you be with using the appropriate pronunciation?? Without a rhyme.

a modern song purposely written in dialect:
"well Ah ken ya dinna like it lass to wintah here in toon
for the scaldies they all cry us aye, and they try to put us doon"

Perhaps my dialect spelling is a bit suspect, but where would the singer be without doing his/her best to correctly pronounce the dialect in this Adam McNaughton song? The dialect contains the beauty of the lyric.

There is a difference between pretending to be something that you're not in performance, and singing in dialect or even using accent when singing. Accent is the music of language, it is the color of the lyric - and often it is important to the song.

ALSO - I grew up learning songs from uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, etc who sang in accent, because they were immigrants. Of course, when I learned those songs as a child, I sang them the same way. I've actually had to unlearn that for some of those songs (for the ones where accent is not important).

When I sing in Spanish or French I do my very best to pronounce the words correctly.
__________

I simply do not buy the argument that says never sing in accent or in dialect. I agree, you should think about why you're doing it, but often it totally appropriate to do so, even it isn't your native tongue.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 03:54 PM

And there you have the definition of theory being inferior to practice. Well said Jed.
G


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 03:56 PM

Amen!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 04:04 PM

It is my preference not to sing in any dialect and that it has nothing to do with wouldn't shouldn't couldn't.

Charlotte (the view from Ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: JedMarum
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 04:09 PM

It is the never sing with accent part of the argument I don't like. The truth is I am normally conscious of whether or not I use accent or dialect - and I make that choice thoughtfully. I too find the Pubsinger putting on the "Clancy Brothers" act in his/her intros and song a bit off-putting - but I know it is perfectly correct to do for many of the songs.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Mick
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 04:18 PM

The only problem I have with folks that attempt to affect a dialect is when they don't take the time to be sure that they are singing, or telling a joke in the appropriate dialect, and getting it fairly close. Like singing the songs, one cannot be lazy or they actually do the opposite of honoring the song. I have heard folks do "Irish" that had little snippets of the North, Dublin, and the West all at once. And all done badly. To me that is lazy on the part of the performer. It seems to me that dialect should be used if it is necessary to the song, and should not be used to try and appear to be something you are not. Done well, as in the example Jed gives for "The Yellow On The Broom", it can be effective. I also reject out of hand the notion that it should never be done.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: JedMarum
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 04:21 PM

Three or four posts from me in one day, you can tell I ought to be doing something more important!

It's tax time for me, and I am afraid I'll be paying this year again - so I am finding "important" Mudcat posts that I need to reply to, instead of preparing my taxes!

;-)

I do love this place, even though I don;t get to visit that often anymore. Sorry I missed the Rick radio show ...


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: M.Ted
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 06:27 PM

Cary Grant always sounded like Cary Grant, which was never anything less than perfect for whatever part he played. Kenneth Branaugh's "American" accent was highly distracting--

I am a good mimic, which has been a problem for me, because it made it easy to do impressions rather than to find my own voice. I used to do a lot of Balkan stuff, but singing songs in languages that I could not speak ended up being more like doing parlor tricks than like really singing.

Though I it isn't strictly accurate to call it a "Chicago Accent", the point that certain singers tend heavily toward doing a "blues impression" is valid. In some cases, the affection is so transparent that it is embarrassing--a lot of people do make it work, though--


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 06:46 PM

Hmm, big post of mine gone. The post eater is out again.

If you speak a dialect, sing in it. If you don't, don't. Otherwise you are at best an impersonator. It's one of the things Ewan MacColl got right (at least for others although he exempted himself and Peggy Seeger for some reason). Fake is fake.

A folksong singer singing someone else's folk song is just a cuckoo in the nest.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 06:52 PM

So, Richard, I guess what I was told about British folk clubs is true.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 06:57 PM

Ewan was born in Salford, but claimed to be a Scot, and sang many songs using a Scots accent. Like Jed said earlier, he was of Scots descent, and may even have learned some of the songs in Scots dialect.
G


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 07:24 PM

"A folksong singer singing someone else's folk song is just a cuckoo in the nest."

It took a few moments for that to sink in.

I guess that means that you shouldn't sing any folk song unless you learned it from your grandmother.

No, that won't work either. That's your grandmother's folk song!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 07:25 PM

100?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: the button
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 08:08 PM

Thing is, we all sing with an accent -- whether it's our own, or someone else's. I thought I didn't have much of one, until I made my first radio show and listened to myself back. I was actually quite shocked.

I come from a bit of East Yorkshire where the accent is quite hard to place. I've even been accused of coming from Hartlepool for God's sake. Heh.

On a completely unrelated point, one of the things I notice about the recordings of "proper" folk singers (Harry Cox, Walter Pardon & Fred Jordan in particular) is that their singing voices are a lot different to their speaking voices, in that all three of the ones I mentioned have accents which are far less marked when they sing than when they speak.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Deckman
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 08:19 PM

This thread has caused me to do some thinking ... I HATE THAT! My father's native language was Finnish. While he didn't sing much, or often, there has always been one song that I grew up with. It wasn't until I was 13 that he allowed himself to teach me any Finnish. When he was 8 he attended his first school where english was the norm. He and his brother and his sister were very cruelly taunted because they couldn't speak english. He never got over that.

For years I've tried to sing that one song "right", and I mostly fail. It's because there is a certain "lilt", or softness, in Father's dialect that is impossible for me to catch. I know several Finnish speakers in my home area, and we discuss this often.

I know when I sing them that song, they smile and nod pleasently, but I know I'm not getting it right, and I probably never will. I still will sing it often, but just to myself. As this thread mentions ... I don't want to be insulting to native speakers. CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Gene Burton
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 08:26 PM

I've come to this thread very late; but that's 'cos I've been back in full time work in the last few weeks (I'm not used to it!!) and not been checking in here much due to real life intruding...

Anyway, having read through the thread (& very interesting reading it made too), I had a listen to the Charlie Zahm track and I don't really see where the purported "affectation" lies. He seems to be singing pretty much in standard, BBC English, which I'd've thought is pretty much a common lingua franca for anybody born in an English speaking country regardless of nationality, ethnicity etc. Maybe the vibrato isn't to everybody's taste, but that's something that occurs naturally in many singing voices (mine included) and is a matter of phisiogomy, not affectation. I liked it a lot.

Of the singers I hear in a live context regularly, I know many who sing in a different accent to their own, many who seem to adopt a kind of hybrid between their own accent and mid-atlantic, and a fair few who sing pretty much 100% in their own accent. I like some of each, and my judgment tends to be formulated on the basis of what I think of their technical abilities as singers rather than which of the three categories they fall into. Personally, I sing in my own accent 'cos that's what seems to be most effective with my particular set of vocal chords; although admittedly my speaking voice is a lot deeper and more nasal (I'm happy with my singing voice but I do cringe whenever my speaking voice is played back to me...but that's by the by).

What works best tends to be whatever approach the singer feels comfortable with, in my experience...and if they're technically decent, you can be sure that for every listener who turns their nose up, there'll be at least one more who's appreciative.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 09:10 PM

In answer to your question Matt!

I don't draw a line and neither should you. Its dumb and uncreative. Only fools do it.

The first song Ewan MacColl published of mine was a calypso in Jamaican patois. I wrote a calypso because Bob Marley was writing reggae, and he was telling the kids I taught 'smoke de herb' - which was okay for a millionaire rockstar in Jamaica , but it left my kids vulnerable to the social workers in the West Mids police force.

I still have the letter from Peggy Seeger asking if I was black or brown. I am white.

I remember Ian Campbell coming round my place after he'd done my folk club - sometime in the 1970's. He told me that his kids were forming a reggae group.. I told him to dissuade them. I'd heard The Police and I thought, like all white kids, they were shit at reggae - compared to the kids I was teaching.

I was wrong then. You are wrong now.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Grab
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 10:04 PM

Don, it's not something you're very likely to come across, unless it's an ultra-trad folk club (in which case the fact it's more recent than the Boer War will itself weight against you ;-). It's more whether you do it well or badly.

If you went into a pub in downtown Houston, did your intros in your regular accent, and then started into singing in an obviously fake Deliverance-imitation accent, it's probably safe to say your performance wouldn't be well received, am I right...?

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 11:13 PM

Right indeed, Graham. Like all aspects of singing, especially if one is expecting to do it professionally—charge people money for it—one has an obligation to pay close attention to detail and do your damnedest to get it right in all aspects.

From what I have said here, some may conclude that I sing with a "phony" accent all the time. Not so. For almost all the songs I sing, I use the same colloquial English that most people sing them in, and usually I start, at least, singing it pretty much the way my source sings it—with or without dialect of accent. If I learn a song from a Ewan MacColl record, I tend to sing it pretty much the way he does, accent and all. Same with Jean Redpath. Or the Corries. Or the Clancy Brothers. Or a song from Cisco Houston's "900 Miles and other Railroad Songs" record. Or whoever I happen to learn it from.

We learn to talk in the first place by listening and trying to imitate what we hear. And that's the best way to learn songs. And the more one sings a song, the more one tends to put one's own stamp on it.

Employed by the Hudson's Bay Company, my great-grandfather, Robert Firth rounded Cape Horn and landed in Fort Vancouver in 1851. From there he went to Fort Victoria, where Governor Sir James Douglas sent him to survey San Juan Island and see if it was suitable for sheep ranching. He settled on San Juan Island, replacing Charles Griffin at the Bel-Vue Ranch, which, when the San Juan Islands were awarded to the United States at the end of "The Pig War," he became owner. He returned to Scotland, married Jessie Grant, and brought her back to San Juan Island where they had nine children. My grandfather and my father both were born and raised on San Juan Island.

My father (also Robert Firth) said that he thought his grandfather had come from Glasgow, but other family members maintain that he came from Orkney. In any case, along with a number of other Hudson's Bay Company employees, he boarded the ship in Stromness on Orkney. In any case, I can legitimately lay claim to Scottish ancestry.

My mother's family came from Dalarna, Sweden, emigrated to (oddly enough) Scandia, Kansas, where my mother (the youngest of ten children) was born. A few years later, they moved to Payette, Idaho. Although I haven't met all of my aunts and uncles, I have heard some of the aunts speaking Swedish. My mother could speak a few words, but she wasn't fluent with it.

In 1976, I drove my mother to Portland, Oregon, where we stayed for several days with an old friend of hers whom she had known from nursing school before she married my father. The friend was married to a man named James Bell. Jim Bell was from Scotland. While there, I sang a number of the Scottish songs and ballads that I know. I did them in my usual manner, singing them as I first heard them, complete with accent. Whether or not my accent was good never came up in the conversation, but he said that although they made him feel homesick, hearing those songs was a real treat for him. If he'd had his way, I would have been singing for him all the time we were there.

One of the songs I sang was "Bonnie Dundee." He told me a lot about the historical background of the song and put me on the track of several other songs I might go hunting for.

My aunts thought the way I sang "The Frozen Logger," with a thick "Svenska" accent, was hilarious. And, I might add, James Stevens (a guest on "Ballads and Books," my 1959 television series), the man who wrote "The Frozen Logger," heard me do it on the show and said, "I hadn't thought of doing it with an accent, but that's great! Keep doing it that way!"

I do not see that using dialect or accent while singing "mocks" or shows disrespect to the people from whom the song comes. In fact, I believe trying to do justice to the song in all its aspects, including accents, pays homage to the source.

The people from whom I spring are Scottish and Swedish. Do I have a right to sing songs using Scottish or Swedish dialect—or any appropriate accent, depending on the song's background—provided that I can do it convincingly and that I do it out of respect for the integrity of the songs?

I'm not!??

By whose authority?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,mankishotey
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 11:19 PM

Whatabout citizens of the worlds?


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 11:35 PM

Well, WLD, even the best white blues singers (an example I have in mind is Kris Dollimore, who is a great musician) don't sound quite right when you compare them to (say) Taj Mahal, Keb Mo or Guy Davis. I was really into blues for several years when I was young and foolish, until the Damascine moment came and I realised the only things that would ever sound right in my mouth were "White Middle Class Blues" or "Can Blue Men sing the Whites?". Remember Atomic Rooster's fine pisstake "Yorkshire Blues"?

I am frankly gobsmacked at the idea of white reggae, ska, or rock steady bands. Led Zep were amongst the very best musicians of their day and "D'yer make 'er" is just a total cringe. Also when I was young I did some earning for a couple of years as a reggae jock. By and large you could hear and feel whether stuff had been recorded in Jamaica or England.

Try to do west country English material "in dialect" if it is not your own and you just finish sounding like a bad copy of Adge Cutler and the Wurzels. And RP speakers trying to do "the Lampton Worm" just sound silly. How many times have you heard those from the southern counties wreck "Wor Geordie's lost his penka" or "the Hartlepool Monkey" because they can't do the accent?

Who are you? That is the nub of it. Or, I suppose, to pick up on other crits of the English around here "Oo joo fink you are?"


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 04:27 AM

Richard, we've all heard the weird concoctions you speak of. Thirty years back(God help me!)I was so enamoured of Derek Brimstone's style of presentation that Derek himself asked me where in London I'd come from, at one point. Its funny, I can laugh at it now. But I was doing a full time job at the the time, taking care of disabled wife, and folkmusic (okay what I thought was folkmusic) just obsessed all my waking hours. It sustained me, and I was deadly serious as an artist. And I wrote my most memorable songs in that period.

Its like this thing about the tradition - you SHOULDN'T discount somebody's life's work because of an idea or set of ideas you have, Its too important - what a man has to say as an artist. We owe our fellow men that much.

These people who come on Mudcat and and diss Ewan MacColl cos apparently his accent isn't kosher, echt Deutsch or it doesn't pass the Scottish Wool Shop Test or the 1954 Definition of Haggis Making - as far as I'm concerned, they're bloody bonkers. Ewan had SO much to say as an artist - and you're going to be a poorer man if you won't listen to any of it for reasons of predjudice. Or for something like ideas, some poxy product of cerebration. Every arsehole's got ideas. Ideas are nothing, comapred to what a capable artist produces.

Its like my Dad saying abstract art is bollocks. Dad had his ideas, but am I going to be so in awe of Father that I say Picasso and Kandinsky life's work was rubbish. To honour Dad's ideas. Course I'm bloody not.

Granted however, there is some real shit around. Just don't assume its shit, cos your criteria aren't met.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 04:43 AM

Some of MacColl's own songs will probably stand the test of time.   "The moving on song" is very popular. But is it sung by travellers as a traveller song? His work discovering and preserving the Scottish tradition was worthwhile. But compare, say, his "Gairdner Child" with those of artists who actually are Scottish. Or some of the recordings of Scottish traditional songs he did with Peggy Seeger. Nuff said?

Derek may have been being polite: are you familiar with the question the French ask of (typically) almost competent English speakers of French? "Vous n'etes pas de cette region" (accents omitted by reason of laziness). It means "You're a damned foreigner aren't you, but at least you are trying to speak a proper language so I out of reciprocated politeness will pretend you can do it well"


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,MacColl fan
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 06:55 AM

MacColl was probably right if he encouraged singers to stick to songs that are peculiar to their own country and indeed their own region as far as traditional songs are concerned. The eejits who try to do otherwise rarely succeed in conveying the song as it was intended and the more seriously they try the more foolish they sound.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Mick
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 09:01 AM

So I assume both of you wizards don't approve of John Mayall, or Eric Clapton, or any of the other British Bluesmen? How about the jazz that is done in France? Those loons have no business doing this uniquely American music, right? Or is that different?

Mick


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,Blind Willie O'Shea
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 09:14 AM

The British Bluesmen are generally noted for their guitar wizardry, not their singing. A white man can no more sing the blues than a yank can sound like an Irishman/woman.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: mattkeen
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 09:55 AM

Of course they can sing the blues - they should just sing it their own accent.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: matt milton
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 11:54 AM

"A white man can no more sing the blues than a yank can sound like an Irishman/woman."

This to me encapsulates a really big misunderstanding about this whole debate – conflating genre with nationality. Blues is a style of music. No reason why it can't be sung in any accent or language you like. Have you heard the band The Fuji, for instance? A blues band with a Japanese singer singing his own songs in Japanese. They're much better and, paradoxically, more authentic sounding than the majority of contemporary blues acts around - whether American, British, black or white...

It took British rappers a long time to start rapping in their own accents. The London Posse, a bunch of cockney rappers, used to basically have the piss taken out of them for rapping in cockney accents back in the mid-80s. Today the tables have turned and British rappers who used US accents are (rightly) scorned. They sound stupid.

In pop and rock, it's pretty much only Syd Barrett and some prog singers before punk. Then a big gap until the current wave (Libertines, Arctic Monkeys et al).

Someone referred to the band UB40. Again, another misunderstanding – nobody's suggesting people shouldn't sing songs from traditions other than their "own". Music doesn't belong to anybody - there are good white rappers, there are good Australian flamenco guitarists etc etc. But I don't think UB40 are a good example at all. One patchy debut album (which has its moments) and then decades of very middle of the road reggae-lite. I'd proffer the Specials as a much better example of a mixed-race band from a similar era playing similar music. Once difference is that their lead singer, Terry Hall, sang in his own voice and accent (even, entertainingly, when their songs used Jamaican patois).


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Bert
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 12:08 PM

Whisht! Lads, haad yor gobs,


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Mick
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 12:17 PM

Now.... you are going to have to make up your mind. when you were the Maccoll fan you said...MacColl was probably right if he encouraged singers to stick to songs that are peculiar to their own country and indeed their own region .

Mick


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 12:34 PM

Can I just endorse what Matt Milton said?

There's no doubt that adopting the accent most commonly heard in whatever genre you're attempting will be easiest, and if done reasonably convincingly will also be the most commercially viable, but I personally don't like it, and it can work against you in the long term. I thin you should be true to yourself, and I love it when people make whatever they're doing work in their own accent. Have you heard Maggie Boyle singing Billie Holiday with Sketch for example? Utterly stunning.

I cut my teeth in the punk era, when singing in your own voice was the done thing - and being on the same bill as some hard core bands like the Specials - essential! My voice happened to be RP via minor public school - not ideal for Joy Stick and the Cockpits (!), but I soldiered on because it made sense. And I've gone on using that voice even though I now sing trad - and there are a lot of clubs who won't book me because of it (they think I'm some kind of fake).

But that's life. And I know I'm right because of this:

About 10 years ago I was booked with two chums to do what we thought was some instrumental busking at a UK university on St Pats Day. But when we got there we found we'd been misled by the agent. We were on the main stage in the student union with a 2k rig and full light show. What's more we were booked as an Irish Show band! In a moment of weakness I decided to sing in an Irish accent (I can do accents, I used to be a director). The gig went really well, but when we came off I was surrounded by young Irish lasses demanding to know which village in Wicklow I was from! I had to pretend to be terribly shy off stage and let the other two do all the talking.

Never again!

Tom


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: meself
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 12:56 PM

At the end of the show you were surrounded by 'young Irish lasses' and you said 'Never again!' - you're a better man than I am!


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: wayfarer
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 01:01 PM

I think songs are spiritual things and great old songs have a spiritual "essence" that enables them to survive and travel down through the years. The really powerful ones can last hundreds years and some go so far back into the misty realms of antiquity that no one can really sure where or whence they originated. Singers too have an essence and when singer meets song the two essences blend and something unique emerges and sometimes it works or maybe not. The best singers seem to be vehicles who try to channel the song and try not to overthink it as far as delivery goes. If a song speaks to you then just sing it and see what happens. Maybe it's essence will harmonize well with yours. The idea that one must be from a specific region to sing a particular song is just provincial, plodding, pedantic, school-marm thinking. The bloody Beatles all spoke with British accents and sang with American accents and it seemed to work out fine. All the greatest artists have always been iconclasts who loved to shake it up. Elvis Presley created rock and roll when he mixed white hillbilly music with black rythmn & blues. Johnny Winter, a great blues singer, is whiter than the driven snow. I just read a book about Robert Johnson that claims Johnson and all the other bluesmen played all sorts of stuff, tin pan alley, broadway showtunes, cowboy songs, scottish & welch ballads, irish sea chanties, etc, and it was the white record executives that forced them to focus on the "blues" tunes in their repetoire. Some of the best country singers in America are not from the south but from places far north like Canada. So in short I say if the shoe fits wear it.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 01:15 PM

Well said, wayfarer!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,Nigel Spencer
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 01:18 PM

Personally, I think singers need to do what's right for them. If it's also right for me I might buy their record or attend their concert. If it's not I'll give it a miss. By and large, I personally prefer people to sound more-or-less like themselves, but if they're good at what they do when trying to sound like somone else, my doubts can be transcended. What I do know is that if I was a singer and some jumped up scrote tried to tell me what I could and couldn't do, my natural instinct would be to do the opposite of what they wanted. I also have no problem at all with - for example - skinny white English boys singing the blues. Wouldn't particularly want to listen to it even if you paid me, though!


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 01:25 PM

MacColl is a case in point. His Scots accent never sounded particularly convincing to me, and although it could be very effective when understated, it veered towards ludicrous when overdone. Compare his rivetting 'Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom' with his horribly over-the-top 'Lord Randal'. And what about his 'Country Yokel' accent, affected for certain English songs?

But a lot depends on exactly how regional the song is. To whoever said in an earlier post: "Seven Drunken Nights".... would not sound right without the accent", I would reply, "Which accent?" The song was collected numerous times in England and North America, even though the best known version is the Dubliners' hit record. On the other hand, songs using - say - a lot of Scots language are going to sound daft if sung in an English accent, but clumsy and unpoetic if 'translated'. There's no one rule.

To Don Firth, who suggested: "I have heard that in many of the folk clubs in the British Isles, one is not allowed to sing.... songs that are not from his or her own background" I can offer the reassurance that this attitude has never been detectable even once in my thirty years experience of folk clubs, and is a misconception based on the reputation of the old 'Singers Club'. For interest, here's
what Peggy Seeger had to say on the subject.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: BB
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 02:55 PM

Bit of a thread drift here, but I think this should be acknowledged:

" "The moving on song" is very popular. But is it sung by travellers as a traveller song?"

Actually, Richard, the answer is yes. Sheila Stewart, daughter of Alex & Belle Stewart, sings it - with conviction!

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 03:08 PM

Thanks for posting that link, Brian. Most interesting. In fact, what I had heard was that MacColl was the one who instituted this policy, but what Peggy says clarifies what was going on at the time.

I can definitely see the reasoning behind the policy (as Peggy explains it), and I'd say that it does have a certain merit—as long as it doesn't become so rigid that it eventually calls for the formation of an "Inquisition" to burn heretics and transgressors at the stake (or smite them hip and thigh and cast them hence), which, all too often, policies of this sort can escalate into. Or become a sort of "ethic" which some singers can use to beat other singers over the head. I have found that among folk music aficionados, one does find a certain percentage who like to harbor a sort of "purer than thou" attitude. I guess you find folks like that in just about every field of endeavor (feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, I suspect). I think Jesus called them "Pharisees."

This, I think, is not a half-bad idea:    "Incidentally, along with this policy came the request from our newly-formed Audience Committee that we not sing the same traditional song more than once every three months… they were getting tired of hearing the same songs week after week. This forced us residents to learn new songs at an unholy rate. But it brought out lots of new songs and ballads and really got us thinking about how we sang what we were learning."

But I must confess that when I read words like "Audience Committee" and "Critics Group," I tend to wince more than just a little.

As for my own singing, I do a wide variety of songs: a fair amount of English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh songs (never been to the British Isles, sad to say), but probably the bulk of my repertoire is made up of American and Anglo-American songs. I do logging songs (never been a logger), sea songs and chanteys (the only times I've been on a sailing ship was as a passenger), and—well, you get the picture.

When learning a song, I don't particularly think of using dialect or accent, I just sing it pretty much as I heard it. As time goes by, I'm sure I make changes in the way I sing it, just like everyone does. But I rarely "study" an accent. It just seems to come naturally. If I run into an unfamiliar word in a Scottish song, say, I already know how it's pronounce because I've just heard it, but I make sure I find out what it means so I know what I'm singing about. I've never had anyone, even hard-charging purists, jump me about "using a phony accent." I have, however, heard people putting on an accent, generally one that is appropriate to the song, but not doing it very well.

But I am not a "folk singer." I am a singer whose repertoire consists mostly (but not exclusively) of folk songs.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: JedMarum
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 03:30 PM

For me it's not about "being true to oneself", or "being who I am" sort of thing - it is not about me, the singer; it is about the song. If the music of the song's language (the lyric) includes accent or dialect, then I do my best to address that in the way I sing the dialect or accent.

Again, I think that dialect and sometimes the accent are the color of the lyric, or as I said above the music of the language. We can change the color but we may loose (or diminish) the beauty.

There is no reason for me to sing WILD ROVER in full-on accent, but GOODBYE MICK requires some (to make the rhymes and humor work).


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: SINSULL
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 04:53 PM

I find this thread fascinating. I have never met cHARLIE BUT HE HIS WELL KNOWN ON THE sCOTTISH gAMES CIRCUIT THROUGHOUT THE EAST COAST. HE WAS UINVITED TO PERFORM WITH THE bLACK wATCH. tHEY DIDN'T SEEM TO BE PUT OFF BY HIS ACCENT.
Damn Capslock.
I am with Jed on this one.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 06:47 PM

Just read the whole thread. Very interesting.
Lots of fusion stuff going on at the moment!
Lots of people from different regions sing together in groups!
Should they all be singing different texts? Should the fusions not be fusing? Very confusing!

When I was a youngster I was part of the 'Folk Police'
Now I'm older and wiser (I hope)I think you sing what the hell you want. If the audience don't like it they'll soon let you know. If you stand up in front of an audience you're acting no matter what accent/dialect you're singing in. MacColl was foremost an actor and he stuck to his trade when he became a singer.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 07:40 PM

Don:


'I have heard that in many of the folk clubs in the British Isles, one is not allowed to sing—or at least one is severely frowned upon if one sings—songs that are not from his or her own background...'

I've not come across that, I wonder where it was you heard that? Maybe I just don't get around enough.

I must admit I don't like singing a song from Scotland because I don't have the accent and wouldn't be able to do it justice. I also don't like singing songs from the male point of view, cos I'm a woman! Just something i'm not comfortable with, that's all.

Sal (having been for a jog tonight)


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 07:41 PM

Dear me, are people STILL singing the Wild Rover?

Sal


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 08:36 PM

Sal, that's pretty well covered in my post of 21 Mar 08 - 03:08 p.m. I was told this by a couple of friends who had been to England and had dropped in on some folk clubs. I had also read that Ewan MacColl had either initiated, or at least, favored this policy. But this was some years back, and what Peggy Seeger says on the link in Brian Peters' post at 21 Mar 08 - 01:25 p.m. clears the matter up a lot.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 08:40 PM

By the way, Sal, I listened to some of your songs on MySpace. Very nice indeed!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 08:46 PM

I always found ewan and peggy to be civilised and intelligent. You couldn't say that for all their followers.

I think some people need rules and they need to be the guy with the rule book. they just want to belong, to be a made man in the grandad shirt/fisherman's smock wearing mafia.

when they get to run folk festivvals and become folk djs they become consiglieri. very important to the family. they can do hits on the careers of singers who use accents the family don't approve of.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: ShayVeno
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 10:19 PM

It's highly stylistic. I'm more peeved when a person comes off stage and continues to try the affectation, as if it's a Ren Faire.

When you learn a language, the accent is part of the language. Songs are no different. One is communicating not only the lyrics, but the culture that generated the sentiment. Truly, I can understand how it can grate. On the other-hand, I agree that some songs just sound goofy without it. "Rocky Road to Dublin", with an American accent = Train Wreck just waiting to happen.

I wonder: Was the OP irritated by The Commitment's "Mustang Sally"??
It seems there's a tired double standard: If a Yank affects his vocals, they're being a poseur. If an Irish or English perform does it to sound American; it's quaint.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Janie
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 11:41 PM

Jeez!

From a 56 year old rank amateur with a southern hillbilly accent and 6 formative years with good choir directors in junior high and high school that pretty much squashed the authentic 'old-timey' quality of that voice forever without taking the hillbilly south out of it -sing what you love, sing it with heart, use a little judgement about what you can pull off and what you can't, and to hell with the rest of it.

Or, in more succinct terms....what Peace and WLD said.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 07:21 AM

"If you stand up in front of an audience you're acting no matter what accent/dialect you're singing in. MacColl was foremost an actor and he stuck to his trade when he became a singer."

All of that is quite true. In MacColl's defence I would also say that he was operating at a time when there was no real blueprint for a 'revival' singer, so a certain amount of experimentation was forgivable. But the fact that a truly inspiring singer like him could verge on risibility in his more 'actorly' performances might be a point in favour of the 'be yourself' argument.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 12:19 PM

Gosh Don, Thanks Very Much, that's very kind.

8)

' By the way, Sal, I listened to some of your songs on MySpace. Very nice indeed! '

Sal


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Marje
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 12:49 PM

I've never ever encountered the attitude, in English folk clubs, that you should only sing in your own accent or songs from your own background. Even if some people hold this view (and most don't), I can't see it being publicised or discussed as club policy.

I do think it's wise (note: I'm not saying it should be forbidden) not to put on an accent or dialect in front of native speakers of that accent. There's a huge diversity of accents in the UK, and most people can't put on an accent well enough to convince others who are local to that area. I remember seeing an American singer, who should have known better, tell a Scottish dialect joke as part of her routine - it might have convinced an American audience, but in the UK it sounded fake, silly and pointless (and this was in England, not even Scotland). On the other hand, she could have included dialect jokes and songs in any American accent she cared to affect, and most of us over here would have accepted that as near enough genuine. It helps to be sensitive to your audience's background and expectations.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 01:02 PM

"Even if some people hold this view (and most don't)"

you have proof the most don't?

Charlotte (the view from Ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 01:49 PM

Well call me old fashioned, but I think it should be decided by how long a willy you've got.

If you've only got say six inches (fully erect) you have to sing in your own voice.

However if you can boast nine inches or more - you can sing in what ever voice you like.

With women singers you could take a more liberal sort of line and decide on the colour and indeed amount of hair in the pubic regions.

brown - just one voice
black - two accents
red - you could be Rory Bremner


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,Blind Willie O'Shea
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 02:05 PM

Are you taking the piss weelittledrummer?
This is a very serious discussion and besides, your criteria doesn't cater for those with less than six inches. Perhaps they should mime to a recording of someone from their region.


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 02:27 PM

Blind Willy - I hadn't foreseen that one......


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: Don Firth
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 03:05 PM

Very good point, Marje.

I can do accents fairly well, but I'm pretty sure I don't do them perfectly, and a "native speaker" could undoubtedly poke holes in my efforts. Other than the aforementioned few days singing Scottish songs for an expatriate Scotsman (he kept asking for more), I probably don't run into that many people who can call me on it when I sing in dialect.

If I were singing in a British folk club, I would quite probably stick to singing American songs, or at least Anglo-American songs, say, collected in the Southern Appalachians. Were I singing in a folk club in Scotland, I would most certainly think twice—probably three or four times—before attempting to sing a song with a Scots accent.

I would, however, take the opportunity to listen carefully to the way people speak and sing in order to perfect my own attempts.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing Affectation?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 03:16 PM

There is supposed to be a 'parallax' phenomenon when it comes to accents. If you take your own pronunciation in a direct line towards someone's accent, they don't tend to notice the deceit, while someone from another region will. So the theory goes that if I attempt a 'Bratfud' accent in Heckmondwike the local lad will notice I'm a cummerin but not that I'm faking, while the Cornishman who overhears will pee himself laughing. This may be rubbish, but I have noted occasions where it's held good - specially working with actors. So perhaps singing in a fake accent is risky when you don't know where the audients hail from.

Tom

(yes - impossible to do Rocky Road in anything other than Irish, which is why I don't sing it)!


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