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Accents in Folk Music

Musket 22 May 11 - 09:55 AM
GUEST,Desi C 22 May 11 - 08:22 AM
Joe Offer 22 May 11 - 01:33 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 May 11 - 01:01 AM
GUEST,Dave MacKenzie 09 Jun 08 - 07:32 PM
Stringsinger 09 Jun 08 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,Volgadon 09 Jun 08 - 12:51 PM
BB 09 Jun 08 - 11:23 AM
mattkeen 09 Jun 08 - 10:42 AM
Kiss Me Slow Slap Me Quick 08 Jun 08 - 03:46 PM
trevek 08 Jun 08 - 03:38 PM
Bonzo3legs 08 Jun 08 - 03:36 PM
Bonzo3legs 08 Jun 08 - 03:35 PM
Don Firth 08 Jun 08 - 02:14 PM
trevek 08 Jun 08 - 02:04 PM
Gene Burton 08 Jun 08 - 02:01 PM
Don Firth 08 Jun 08 - 01:53 PM
meself 08 Jun 08 - 01:05 PM
trevek 08 Jun 08 - 12:46 PM
meself 08 Jun 08 - 12:44 PM
trevek 08 Jun 08 - 12:20 PM
Bonzo3legs 07 Jun 08 - 05:00 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jun 08 - 04:52 PM
Richard Mellish 07 Jun 08 - 04:39 PM
meself 07 Jun 08 - 03:51 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jun 08 - 02:57 PM
meself 07 Jun 08 - 12:56 PM
GUEST,Mademoiselle Nobs 07 Jun 08 - 12:26 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jun 08 - 12:20 PM
GUEST,facetime 07 Jun 08 - 11:43 AM
The Sandman 07 Jun 08 - 06:07 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jun 08 - 05:03 AM
The Sandman 07 Jun 08 - 04:09 AM
trevek 07 Jun 08 - 04:03 AM
GUEST,Ewan Spawned a Monster 07 Jun 08 - 02:55 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jun 08 - 02:53 AM
Rowan 06 Jun 08 - 11:29 PM
RobbieWilson 06 Jun 08 - 09:32 PM
Tootler 06 Jun 08 - 04:57 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Jun 08 - 04:51 PM
trevek 06 Jun 08 - 03:36 PM
trevek 06 Jun 08 - 03:04 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Jun 08 - 02:51 PM
Grab 06 Jun 08 - 12:21 PM
GUEST,meself 06 Jun 08 - 10:54 AM
trevek 06 Jun 08 - 08:21 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 06 Jun 08 - 07:03 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jun 08 - 04:54 AM
melodeonboy 06 Jun 08 - 04:43 AM
Tootler 05 Jun 08 - 07:58 PM
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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Musket
Date: 22 May 11 - 09:55 AM

I have a recording somewhere of Adge Cutler singing Rock & Roll in his Somerset accent..

Ooh Arrh, thisen nothin' but a hedgehog!
Get off moi brown suede gaitors!

I have spent many years in business and more recently having to have a degree of credibility in Whitehall. As a result, not by trying but naturally, my South Yorkshire / Derbyshire accent and dialect has disappeared. yet when I sing local songs, it comes back with knobs on.

Again, not by trying, just happens, that's all.

Mind you, if singing an American song, it does get all mid Atlantic if I am being honest.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 22 May 11 - 08:22 AM

I disagree quite a bit with you. I once heard an old recording of Ledbelly talking and couldn't understand a single word. Peggy Seeger still has a noticeable American accent, but probably due to Ewan McColl being very against American Folk she tended to sound much like him a lot of the time. Heaven forbid olk Hank had sang Raglan Road! not too many Irish singers sing it well. but I have heard a rare recording of him doing a folk song that had a distinctly trad English sound to it and you'd never have guessed it was Hank Singing. I'm not suggesting Hugh Laurie is much of a singer but hearing him murder the blues in a recent docu it was in a distinct if un convincing U.S accent that pretty much all white British Blues singers adopt. And most likely because the way Blues and Country Lyrics are written most voices will sound more american. As will most non Irish voices sound Irish if they sing Trad Irish songs. After all if you want to speak French or German and want to do it well then you have to sound a little French or German. By the way I think Pete Seeger does indeed sound like he's singing in his own voice, but because he has an American accent and does mainly American Folk. But you don't say just who are all these great voices who you say don't sing in accents?


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 May 11 - 01:33 AM

Well, just to correct something said in 2008, it's Lederhosen (leather pants). When I'm speaking another language, I try to speak with a reasonably accurate accent. I don't like trying to speak what people imagine to be German-accented or Italian-accented whatever-accented English. Too easy to go into stereotypes.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 May 11 - 01:01 AM

"Day dah light and mi waan go home". Nope, can't sing that in an Australian accent. Do the accent if the song calls for it.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Dave MacKenzie
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 07:32 PM

"(Apologies to those who've had to wear leiderhausen or cowboy hats for the sake of a lucrative gig ... ) "

Leiderhausen - does that mean "to play havoc, unfortunately"? Seems appropriate.

Seriously though, if you learn a vocal technique for a particular genre, very often the accent comes with it, no doubt because of the mouth position you have to adopt, for the same reason that although I have difficulty pronouncing THs in English, I don't have the same problem in Welsh, which I learnt much later in life.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Stringsinger
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 01:16 PM

There are certain singers who are actors. Jack Elliott is one. They have the gift of mimicry.
Frank Warner was another. Ewan McColl. The New Lost City Ramblers. Their ears pick up the speech patterns and accents of others successfully for most.

There are plenty who don't. Pete Seeger for one. He sings the way he speaks.

It comes down to which interpretation of a song you accept. There are those who go
to concerts of classical music and follow the score to intercept the mistakes. These folks exist in the folkie world too. They are more focussed on the accents then the content or performance of the song.

Folk music performance is often the presentation which falls into the category of
stagecraft. If the audience believes the performer is "real" than it makes no difference
to most what accent they acquire or affect.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 12:51 PM

There is a youtube video of Katyusha which makes me cringe everytime. An English choir, I think.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: BB
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 11:23 AM

Almost without exception, I would agree with Matt that it's about being yourself. However, I don't have a problem with singing a specifically dialect song from your area with the local accent which is more like an exaggeration of the way in which you usually speak anyway.

I think using another language is usually a different matter, as that's about communication which possibly wouldn't otherwise take place, or is perhaps a matter of courtesy to the person you're communcating with. This would surely rarely apply with accents, as English-speaking people generally understand 'received' English because of mass communication, and unless one's accent is very broad have little difficulty in understanding other accents - dialect may be a different matter!

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: mattkeen
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 10:42 AM

Isn't the general idea, in life as well for that matter, that its a good idea to try and be more like yourself, and thats true of singing too as far as I am concerned


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Kiss Me Slow Slap Me Quick
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 03:46 PM

I was allways of the opinion - you should sing as you speak. I have no idea what my accent is. This is made more complicated by the fact that I am from an age that were punished, YES punished at school for talking as we did at home. We had to talk propper or at least make the effort. I am still aware that my speach alters depending who I'm with or where I am. So my accent, vocabulary and pronunciation is all over the place. TV also plays a major part in change as well. In Scotland we consider that - w'ar a' Jock Tampsons' bairns, but we do not all converse in the patois of our father.

And Rambling Jack Elliot got his version of 'I belong to Glasgow' from the original recording of the song, including all the patois/patter, by Will Fyfe. Who wrote the song but didn't belong to Glasgow.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: trevek
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 03:38 PM

But does she sing in it?


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 03:36 PM

But then she was educated at Northlands in BA!


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 03:35 PM

My wife can switch from English to fluent Argentine Spanish at the click of a finger, and - perish the thought, to European Spanish......th th th th!


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 02:14 PM

BUT she stressed that "it shouldn't just be a cheap copy, you have to know what it is your singing and doing".

Exactly!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: trevek
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 02:04 PM

A good point, Don. What is the difference between a dialect and a language (apart from the language having a bigger army)?

Funnily enough, I have Polish students of English who speak English with German or French accents because that is their primary second language.

I just put this question to my wife, who is Polish and learns traditional songs from Poland, Belorussia and Ukraine (as well as other places)and studies/practices the regional singing techniques as well.

She was puzzled by the question and then replied that if she knows th technique and the style of singing then she tries to sing it as they do (with accent/pronunciation) BUT she stressed that "it shouldn't just be a cheap copy, you have to know what it is your singing and doing".


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Gene Burton
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 02:01 PM

100!


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 01:53 PM

Okay, I took three years of French in high school. Unfortunately, I never really had a chance to use it, so it's pretty much left me. But let's say that I was able to keep up with it and that I speak French fairly fluently.

So. I have a friend who is French. He calls me on the telephone and we chat for awhile. I speak French while we are talking. As we finish our conversation, my wife walks into the room and asks, "Who was that on the phone?" I respond--in English--that it was Gervaise calling from Paris.

"Normally" I speak in English. So when I was talking with Gervaise, was I being bogus, phony, and artificial? I don't think so.

People can be bilingual. Multilingual. I don't see that it is any different with accents and dialects. People can be "multidialectical." The only question would be "do they speak the languange--or dialect--or accent--well or not?"

I can sing in French. And in Italian. And in a couple of other languages, most of which I can't speak fluently or at all. So why shouldn't I sing in Scots, or Irish, or Yorkshire, or--?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 01:05 PM

I make it a rule to carry my snub-nosed .44 when I go out to the bars to correct the speech habits of the large and muscular.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: trevek
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 12:46 PM

I forgot to mention, they were also generally rather large, muscular individuals (even some of the female staff). Nice people, though!


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 12:44 PM

"So, would it be sensible to tell them they were being bogus?" I would recommend against apprising them of this possibilitiy ...


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: trevek
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 12:20 PM

It occurred to me over the weekend that it is often hard to speak of a "natural" accent as for some people an accent is something you work on and change over time.

Examples: A friend of mine in Shropshire. His father was a minor. Now, when he speaks he has a local accent but not broad, doesn't use too much dialect... however, when he gets on the phone to an old mining buddy his wife complains because he gets really broad. So, which is his 'natural' accent and which is his 'bogus' one?

Likewise, when I worked in a bar we had some Black security staff. When they were talking to customers and to staff they used a local, everyday accent. But when they spoke together or with a group of other Black guys they switched to Jamaican patois (sp?), complete with accent. Few, if any, of them had been born or raised in Jamaica. It was just a "Black" thing, reconnecting with their roots.

So, would it be sensible to tell them they were being bogus? Was it any different to code-switching into a different language?

This brings me round to another view to the original question about Blues singers. How many Black (or White, indeed) singers of Reggae 'put on' an accent to sing Reggae and is this any different to putting on an accent to sing Folk? If so, why/why not?


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 05:00 PM

When, may I ask, will Dick Gaughan provide us with English subtitles at his gigs?


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 04:52 PM

Not sure that's too great a problem Richard.
Some people grow up with 'dual' accents due to home and outside influences.
Best of both worlds as far a I can see.
I often wish one of my parents was Scots - think of all those nice 300 verse ballads!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 04:39 PM

By way of further response to Robbie's
>"slipping into" one accent or another is always bogus:

what about the two recordings of Cecilia Costello singing The Grey Cock, one in the accent of where she lived and one in the accent with which her father had sung it?

Richard


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 03:51 PM

I suppose that's the point at which 'making a song your own' gets a little problematic ... It is interesting though, in light of this discussion, that Lloyd would take that route rather than, for example, dressing up like a lumberjack and putting on a Canadian accent to sing a Canadian song (shades of Monty Python).

(Apologies to those who've had to wear leiderhausen or cowboy hats for the sake of a lucrative gig ... )


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 02:57 PM

Meself,
The 'borrowing' from Fowke and Creighton was very much a two-way trip. A.L.Lloyd had a few songs from Canada and N.S. in his repertoire, which he coyly never mentioned.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 12:56 PM

I have heretofore avoided expressing my views in any of these 'accents' discussions (I think), for the reasons I gave in my initial post to this thread. However ... as a singer, I take inspiration from the Canadian field recordings made by Helen Creighton, Edith Fowke, et al, in which, although there are vast numbers of songs of Old Country and (less often) American origin and/or setting, you never hear a singer use anything other than his/her native accent. The result is the effect that the singers really 'own' their songs, in the sense that they have 'made them their own'. Listen to any of the appropriate samples from the Helen Creighton collection to get what I'm talking about.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Mademoiselle Nobs
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 12:26 PM

I prefer to leave accents to music hall turns and the characters in Aardman Animations films


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 12:20 PM

Cap'n
"the song Tottie"
I think it's probably music hall.
There's no 'should' or 'shouldn't', it's up to the singer to decide how (or whether) to sing it. On the other hand, it's up to the listener to decide whether it works for them.
I've only ever heard a Londoner sing it - and it worked. A Mancunian or Liverpudlian would probably make an almighty hames of it. The text is totally structured for somebody with a London accent.
For me, the accent that works is the singers own.
Ewan's lad:
"Is bogus always necessarily bad?"
Absolutely. It is the ability of folk song to transcend time and distance that makes it unique; that's why the songs have lasted for centuries and transplanted themselves wherever the language is spoken.
While the settings of the songs may be alien, and the situations, beyond our personal experience, the basic emotions expressed are universal and timeless.
You don't have to be a 19th century poacher to imagine what it would feel like to be forced to leave your native home and live on the other side of the world - ask any Irishman who has had to emigrate because of shortage of work back home.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,facetime
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 11:43 AM

I always shudder when I hear Americans do "Greenface" and attempt to sound Irish. Or for that matter, anybody doing "Hickface", when singing country songs. That said, "identity" and "authenticity" are pretty slippery subjects here in this complicated, multi-cultured world.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 06:07 AM

the song Tottie.
is this a music hall song or a traditional song,and if so should it be sung differently ,because its one or the other.
I feel it is most convincing when sung in a london accent,regardless of whether it is traditional or music hall.
however a good singer could probably still bring the song to life,with a different accent,if it was his natural accent,a very broad Scottish accent probably wouldnt work,but a West Indian accent might.
Why?because Scottish accents we still associate with Scotland,but there are now[Since 1950 immigration from the WEST INDIES] West Indian london accents.In fact virtually any london accent[Tottenham,Lewisham,Shepherds bush, Edgware,none of whom are true cockneys]Would be acceptable,even estuary Southend.
should geordie songs be sung in a wearside accent,well if the singer can put the song over convincingly and is enjoying the song the answer must be yes.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 05:03 AM

Oh no.........!!!
Have just put up an opinion on the 'Folk vs Folk' site, where it will, I have no doubt, be battled out to the bitter end.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 04:09 AM

Jim,could you explain why you think is music hall is different.
Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: trevek
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 04:03 AM

"Phrases like "slip into the accent" really piss me off."

Robbie, sorry it offends you but I can't really think of a better terminology.

My us of "slip into" is because it is not something I intentionally do. I might sometimes be in conversation with someone and later somebody else points out that I was speaking with a different accent, which I hadn't been aware of.

Having been brought up in Shropshire I was exposed to yamyams of Wolverhampton. I never had such an accent but when I speak to someone from there I find I can't stop doing it for a while afterwards... and I certainly don't do it on purpose.

It's also a point to note that we often imitate (consciously or not) sounds around us and find ourselves picking up accents through interaction. many of my English language students here in Poland learn English from Polish speakers and have a Polish accent, others might learn from Americans and have an American one... then they go to Ireland and come back with an Irish one. But I don't know if they keep that accent when they speak Polish.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Ewan Spawned a Monster
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 02:55 AM

Hmmm... Is bogus always necessarily bad? The entire British folk revival is on some levels bogus. After all, very few of the guests or floorsingers are the horny handed sons and daughters of toil these songs were often collected from. A urban civil servant slipping into a 'folk voice' when singing about, say, 19th century rural matters, is only moving a lttle further down a path he or she was already travelling on when they made the decision to sing the song. In that sense, we're all actors, all entertainers, all roleplaying.

Of course, none of the above is in any way compulsory.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 02:53 AM

I find the subject of 'adopted' accents a somewhat problematical one, both in singing and storytelling.
Our excursion into the storytelling revival left us with the distinct impression of 'poor actors' trying very hard - and failing miserably.
It seems to me that the best way to make a song/story work 'convincingly' is to sing/tell it in your own natural voice with your own natural accent.
I recall the hours of pleasure I have got from listening to the magnificent Alec Stewart, live and on recordings, telling his 'Jack Tales', using his own, flat, laconic delivery.
For me that 'naturalness' is an indication that the song/story is working for the singer/storyteller, which is the greatest part of the battle in making it work for the audience. It is something I find almost universal in recordings of 'source singers', even when their physical abilities may have reduced, It is a quality quite often missing in revival performers.
It is possible, with a great deal of practice, to master 'foreign' accents, but I find it very hard to think of en example where that would be necessary in the singing of folk songs - music hall maybe, but that's different.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Rowan
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 11:29 PM

Sometimes these are particular sounds but "slipping into" one accent or another is always bogus

Robbie, part of the reason for my earlier post was to explain how such things may happen without being conscious of it, a point reiterated by others in recent postings. When the accent is deliberately accentuated, you might be, sometimes, correct in your assertion that it is always bogus but even then, character actors and those doing multiple voices in audio books have a legitimate reason to accentuate the accent, if you'll pardon the tautology.

Lest this be regarded as not relevant to folk music there are many occasions when a singer is so seriously 'in character' that the accentuation is imposed by either the construction of the text and its rhythms, or the singer's understanding of the context and meanings in the song. Or both. In such circumstances you could regard the singer as "in control", if you are a dyed-in-the-wool rationalist or "under the influence" of the song if you're one who allows emotions to carry weight; in either case always bogus is a descriptor that is a trifle limited in scope and limiting in intent.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 09:32 PM

Phrases like "slip into the accent" really piss me off. You may have some sounds that you assosciate with a context but it is no more than that. We each have our own individual accents and a memory bank of others, more often than not erroneous stereotypes.

When most people sing or speak they try and establish points of cotact with what they are trying to communicate. Sometimes these are particular sounds but "slipping into" one accent or another is always bogus


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Tootler
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 04:57 PM

Trevek,

I know what you mean when you say "I might slip into accent without thinking about it". I find myself doing the same thing sometimes. Partly because of where my parents came from - Mother from Aberdeen, Father from North Yorkshire - and partly because we moved around a lot during my childhood, so I encountered a range of accents. Sometimes I have to watch myself in case the listener thought I was taking the mickey. Not so much these days because I have been settled on Teesside for the past 30 years so how I speak has settle down much more.

My daughter told me an amusing story recently. She is teaching in South London and had occasion to tell a boy off. She finished off with something like "... and you can stop taking the mickey out of my accent as well!". To which the boy replied "But miss, this is how I normally speak. I come from Middlesbrough and we have just moved here". No answer to that one!


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 04:51 PM

As a performer there are simply occasions, as trevek says, when adopting a 'foreign' accent is appropriate. As a teacher of English for many years I had to read to and with pupils. One favourite book of both pupils and teachers was Robert Westall's 'The Machine Gunners'
set in WWII Geordieland. It contains lots of great Geordie dialogue and a smattering of Glaswegian. Having watched an accompanying video many times the accents were easily imitable, and so to make the reading more enjoyable and more realistic I adopted the appropriate accents. After the initial shock/giggling had died down and the pupils got used to it I encouraged some of them to attempt the accents as well and some of them became quite good at it.

Also many of my friends are Geordies and I spent a lot of time up there in the Holy Land. I picked up a lot of the local music hall songs, Blaydon Races, Cushie Butterfield, Lambton Worm, Keep yor feet Still, simply so I could join in. My best mate was a great concertina player but couldn't sing a note, so if the two of us were out in the pubs I would do all the singing. I even ended up learning some Northumbrian ballads just to please him. Needless to say I used the local accent and I don't ever remember any of the locals complaining.

Having said that, although I know a lot of the muckle sangs I would never sing any of the Scots ones in public. The only Child ballads I sing I sing in SE, unless you count that remnant of The Elfin Knight 'Acre o' Land' which is sung all over the East Riding and has its own dialect versions.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: trevek
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 03:36 PM

as a footnote, sometimes I learn songs from other singers or from recordings and pick up their quirks, pronunciations etc. I recently tried to remember a couple of Billy Fury songs I'd learned over 25 years before (and hadn't sung for at least tn) and found I still used his vocal techniques.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: trevek
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 03:04 PM

Certainly Jim. As an actor or storyteller I use an accent to create a character (I'm not too bad at several accents)and sometimes the script calls for it.

Sometimes when I'm singing a particular song the character of the narrator, or perhaps the nature of the song, sometimes gets me thinking of, for example, Scotland or Tyneside and I might slip into accent without thinking about it (my mother's a Geordie and Dad was Scottish). I used to have a habit of picking up accents if I was around someone with a strong one, so sometimes some stimuli (even something like talking about a place) can make the accent slip without me meaning to (very funny for those around if I'm on the phone, or something).

I don't do full-on imitations of accents when singing unless it is some kind of comic or music-hall song.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 02:51 PM

Trevek
"I find I sometimes have to inflect or put-on an accent."
Don't want to challenge your statement in any way, but can you tell me why?


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Grab
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 12:21 PM

Thanks Phil. I couldn't think offhand of words using the right version of "u" which everyone would pronounce roughly the same, hence the rather approximate attempt at a phonetic version.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 10:54 AM

"A quick trawl of the internet confirms that it is in fact Irish."

I think you'll find that Jim Carroll knows the subject about as well as any sources you're likely to find in a 'quick trawl' of the internet ...


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: trevek
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 08:21 AM

As an actor and occassional storyteller I find I sometimes have to inflect or put-on an accent. Singing a song is often done in the same vein. With some songs it would sound grating to be pronouncing a 'dialect' word in another accent and could spoil the reception. That doesn't mean you have to put on a whole accent where an inflection would do.

For example, a song like Anachee Gordon rhymes 'me' with 'dee'(do) and would sound absolutely bizarre if sung in, for example in a Black Country accent. With something like Burns, the rhyme may rly on a Scots pronunciation of a word which would be different from another reading (as has been discussed).

Personally, as a Scots/Geordie half-breed (born and brought up in the Midlands) who has travelled a bit, I often find my accent slipping into another when I speak to a person from, or even discuss topics relating to, a particular region. So if it happens that I sing songs with an inflection if it relates to a character of the narrator.

Funnily enough, I don't tend to sing songs like Black Velvet Band or songs from the former colonies (US, Australia... hee hee)with much, if any inflection. I don't know if this is because the (imaginary) narrator might well have been without an American or Australian accent themselves.

Regarding Blues, I wonder if it because many of the lyrics don't involve regional pronuciation that allows a singer the possibility of keeping their own accent.

If anyone ever wonders about singers toning down their accents, a quick blast of Juliet Turner will solve that one. Broad, unapologetic and all the better for it!


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 07:03 AM

As Sherlock Holmes used to say, "These are deep waters, Watson." It seems there is no way to sing a song that doesn't 'belong' to you without offending somebody. Attempt a facsimile of the 'authentic' version, and you will be accused of insulting the tradition. Try to do it in your own way, and you will be accused of corrupting the tradition.

But these are wonderful songs, which deserve to be much better known than they are. And on many occasions where singing them would be appropriate, there is nobody present who is 'qualified' to deliver them. So what should we do? Shut up – or make the best job of it we can for ourselves?

This issue is not unique to the world of folk song. Many American actors – Orson Welles, for example - have produced excellent interpretations of the greatest Shakespearean roles without adopting fake English accents. Nevertheless, their delivery of the lines has an English inflection, arising from the rhythms of the text itself. There is a similar process of accommodation between singer and song whenever the two come from different cultures.

Sometimes the result is not entirely satisfactory.   But if a performer succeeds in conveying the essence of the text to the audience – by whatever means - then questions of authenticity can be set aside for pedants to quibble over at their leisure. The relationship between the song and the audience is far more important than the dialogue between the singer and the critic.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 04:54 AM

Melodeonboy:
"What's a poor Englishman like me to make of it all?"
The same as a poor Englishman living in Ireland, I suppose.
Good luck,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: melodeonboy
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 04:43 AM

"Should bloody well think not - 'She Moved Through the Fair' is Irish."

Apologies, Jim. Many people have told me it's Irish and many have told me it's Scottish! The first version of it that I ever heard was by Alan Stivell, who is, as we know, neither Scottish nor Irish, and he claimed that it was Scottish! A quick trawl of the internet confirms that it is in fact Irish. What's a poor Englishman like me to make of it all?

(By the way, I've had no complaints from Irish people either!)


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Tootler
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 07:58 PM

I have a Scots mother and and English father, and though my earliest years were spent in Scotland, my father's career (RAF) involved us in regular moves. As a result my accent is a bit of a mish mash, though it is generally Northern English tending to Yorkshire - if that makes sense.

I sing a number of Scots songs and I sing what I feel is right. Sometimes that involves anglicizing words, sometimes I try to keep the Scots form. If that sounds affected, so be it. I tend to concentrate on trying to ensure I pronounce the words clearly so that their meaning comes over. That to me is what is really important.

When I deliberately attempt a Scots accent my daughter tells me it's abominable. On the other hand a friend once correctly identified me as coming originally from Aberdeen, so make what you will of that!

Geoff


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