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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
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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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