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What Makes a Folk Voice?

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Sleepy Rosie 16 Nov 08 - 11:32 AM
VirginiaTam 16 Nov 08 - 11:41 AM
Dave the Gnome 16 Nov 08 - 11:42 AM
SPB-Cooperator 16 Nov 08 - 11:43 AM
Alice 16 Nov 08 - 11:50 AM
Leadfingers 16 Nov 08 - 11:50 AM
Marje 16 Nov 08 - 11:51 AM
Sleepy Rosie 16 Nov 08 - 12:11 PM
Dave the Gnome 16 Nov 08 - 12:16 PM
Alice 16 Nov 08 - 12:18 PM
SPB-Cooperator 16 Nov 08 - 12:19 PM
The Sandman 16 Nov 08 - 12:26 PM
Sleepy Rosie 16 Nov 08 - 12:32 PM
Alice 16 Nov 08 - 12:32 PM
The Sandman 16 Nov 08 - 12:41 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Nov 08 - 12:44 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Nov 08 - 12:48 PM
Alice 16 Nov 08 - 12:57 PM
Alice 16 Nov 08 - 01:01 PM
The Sandman 16 Nov 08 - 01:11 PM
Alice 16 Nov 08 - 01:17 PM
Amos 16 Nov 08 - 01:19 PM
Alice 16 Nov 08 - 01:22 PM
Marje 16 Nov 08 - 01:23 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Nov 08 - 01:27 PM
Piers Plowman 16 Nov 08 - 01:34 PM
SPB-Cooperator 16 Nov 08 - 01:39 PM
Dave the Gnome 16 Nov 08 - 01:40 PM
Piers Plowman 16 Nov 08 - 01:45 PM
Little Robyn 16 Nov 08 - 01:46 PM
SPB-Cooperator 16 Nov 08 - 01:46 PM
The Sandman 16 Nov 08 - 01:46 PM
Alice 16 Nov 08 - 01:52 PM
Don Firth 16 Nov 08 - 01:58 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Nov 08 - 02:12 PM
bankley 16 Nov 08 - 02:29 PM
Terry McDonald 16 Nov 08 - 03:27 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Nov 08 - 05:52 PM
Barry Finn 16 Nov 08 - 07:02 PM
Ref 16 Nov 08 - 08:00 PM
Alice 16 Nov 08 - 08:09 PM
Richard Bridge 17 Nov 08 - 03:04 AM
Richie 17 Nov 08 - 03:40 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Nov 08 - 04:15 AM
VirginiaTam 17 Nov 08 - 04:28 AM
Spleen Cringe 17 Nov 08 - 08:07 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 17 Nov 08 - 08:44 AM
GUEST 17 Nov 08 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 17 Nov 08 - 11:25 AM
Alice 17 Nov 08 - 11:33 AM
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Subject: What Makes a Good Folk Voice?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 11:32 AM

I hope this doesn't sound nuts as a question, but I've heard much strongly felt opinion about the performance of folk music (esp. in Folk Manners) but so little explicit illistration of those felt opinions, that the newbie in me is starting to feel a bit confuddled!

I've heard much genuinely interesting, and yet, contradictory on occassion, sounding opinion.

I'd really like to understand exactly what it is that performers and punters alike, feel (in particular *vocally*) makes for a decent performance?


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 11:41 AM

I am going to hang on the coat tails of this question, cuz I wanna know too.

Sign me trying to lose my church choir voice.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 11:42 AM

I think the best explanation was one I saw quite recently on another thread - Singing in the voice that you speak in! Just my opinion of course.

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 11:43 AM

In my view, for folk the individual should develop their natural voice rather than develop an artificial or contrived sound - though I would make an exception for Music Hall where the performer is playing a character, but that is only for part of the genre.

For me part of the pleasure of listening to folk music lies in the diversity of sound/dialect depending where the singer comes from, and as such defining a 'folk voice' could lead to a homogenised sound.

It can be easier said than done. When I started singing hrmphh years ago, I had a tendency to imitate the singer from which I learned the song, and unless I stop myself I still lapse into this from time to time. However characterisation of a song can be fun - not sure if it is the same for the listener though.....


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 11:50 AM

I agree that singers should not imitate, and use your natural born range. It does help to learn what can damage your voice, what to do or not do with your voice to keep it healthy and singing your life long.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 11:50 AM

There is such a wide variety of 'Successful' singers on the scene , and all have different qualities to their voices , from the Ronnie Drew (Gargling with Industrial Diamonds) to Dave Burland !
I have the same problem as SPB - I learn a song from another singer and so often find I AM imitating ! OK - The song goes on the back burner for a while until I can sing it out as 'Me' , not Them !


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Marje
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 11:51 AM

This is one of those subjects that are hard to discuss because we can't actually hear each other...

But to throw something in for people to think about: recently I heard a radio discussion about singing, in which a (classical) singer said that having a big range was nothing to get hung up about, and she gave the example of Shirley Collins as good folk voice because her songs are pitched close to her natural speaking voice, which highlights the purity and truth of the songs she sings.

I think I agree that one feature of a pleasing folk voice is the choice of a natural pitch - this suits the material and makes the words more audible than if the voice is pushed up as high as possible. Having said that, the "growlers" who insist that they have a low voice but can actually reach only about half an octave could do with some encouragement to stretch their voices upwards a bit.

Marje


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 12:11 PM

As an amatuer singer, I've been told that my voice is "very pure, beautiful and clear", which of course is jolly nice to hear an awl that.

Objectively however, I can hear both the qualities of my voice alongside it's limitations: meaning I can see that I have plenty of 'prettiness/light' but lack enough 'dirt/earth' for my own taste.

I dunno wht I can do about that, except possibly run with what stregths I may have...

But then I've read on this same forum, that pure and lovely voices, just aint interesting for folk song. They are dull. And as a listener, though I probably sit somewhere in the middle, I do well understand that complaint.

For as a listener, I'd probably be more interested in a more rough yet innovative vocal expression, than a classically 'lovely' one.

Errgh! Thorticles? What's it awl abart?


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 12:16 PM

As a singer I have told I sound very much like a hammer chewer...

I agree about the occasion lapse from your own voice in the right cirmstances as well, btw.

How can I sing Kiplings wonderful line 'If sometimes our cunduc' isn't what your fancy paints' without lapsing into Dick van Dyke cockney:-)

DeG


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 12:18 PM

Sleepy Rose, the shape and size of your vocal folds you were born with are like the natural color of your eyes. The sound made by our vocal folds are physically what we have to work with - if they vibrate at a higher frequency, then that is natural. If you have a natural high, light sounding voice (as I was born with, also) don't try to change it into another person's voice - you would probably damage the vocal folds if you do. You can end up losing your voice or creating nodes or cancer if you stress or push the sound into something it isn't shaped to be.
Sing the songs that feel right for you. There are plenty of them.

Alice


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 12:19 PM

That would then be characterisation.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 12:26 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEKVeI_VD3E
well this is afolk voice ,it may not be to everyones liking,but it couldnt be confused with an opera singers voice


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 12:32 PM

Alice, I must say I really like your 'eye colour' simile. It's probably one I should keep in mind.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 12:32 PM

"Opera singer's voice" is really just technique added to a clear sounding voice.

A person who has a natural clear tone to their voice can sing folk music, too. It should not be called "opera" just because the natural tone is clear. Good example, Odetta.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI8NqrqPWkI


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 12:41 PM

Alice ,no,it is not a simple as that.
opera singers use excess vibrato,which [imo]is not stylistically appropriate for folk music.
many folk singers have good technique,but they sometimes use two different voices the head voice and the chest voice.
[imo] good singing technique requires singing from the diaphragm,something that I do,but something that opera singers also do.
however I still sound like a folk singer,and Opera singers dont they sound like opera singers.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 12:44 PM

Taking our traditional singers as a guide, the folk voice is the one you speak in, as is the folk style of narrative - i.e. singing in speech patterns (taking the breath on the punctuation).
Without wishing to be critical of the lady, Shirley Collins does not use a natural voice for singing - she constantly sings in head-voice.
Head voice, which appears to be confined to women singers, creates a number of problems:
a. It takes twice as much air to produce, making it difficult to sing a full line without taking a breath in the middle.
b. Invariably, if a song has a largish range a singer can often have difficulty in maintaining a single tone and will move from head voice into chest voice as the pitch moves up or down.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 12:48 PM

Cross-posted with the Cap'n and repeated what he said.
I agree with 'im
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 12:57 PM

Captain, I don't think you understood my point.

Opera singers sound like opera singers when they are using the bel canto technique they are trained in.

The voice does not have to sound like that when the singer isn't using that technique. I've studied classical voice technique. It's a matter of when to use it and when not to use it.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:01 PM

When you are criticizing a high voice as not being natural, you have to realize that the vocal folds dictate the frequency range, just like a low D whistle compared to a high D whistle.. the space and size of the vocal folds are different in a body that is a bass voice compared to a body that produces a high range voice.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:11 PM

yes ,but it a is a question of understanding style.
an opera singer may have a good technique,and not enmploy excess vibrato when singing a folk song,but if the repertoire is unfamilar and he has a .lack of understanding of other aspects of folk style,he will sound like an opera singer trying to sing folk songs.
all styles be they jazz,or whatever, require an absorption,before they can be sung convincingly or stylistically accurately.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:17 PM

You underestimate some of the people who sing opera if you think they don't know about or appreciate or understand folk music. There are plenty of singers who grew up in families singing folk songs who later go on to study music academically. And when they sit around the kitchen table and just sing folk songs with family, they don't have to use classical technique like they are on a stage.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Amos
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:19 PM

Folds, shmolds. SIng where you feel right. The critical quality of a really good folk voice has little to do with the technical details of the instrument, but the clarity of the connection the singer makes with his song and the bridge he makes between the song and the listener.

The critical measurement of success is the degree to which the experience and feeling of the song itself actually comes into the performance.

This is why, initially, many "roots" oriented folkies despised the Kingston Trio. They sang about a long, black rifle in the same voices we heard advertising toothpaste and Chevrolets for Madison Avenue, and the experience of the song itself never go across the bridge.

The critical thing is what you communicate. Every song is full of viewpoints--the actual participants in the story, the narrator as a feeling member of the time and place, or an abstract performer from far away in space and time filtering the whole thing through a completely different set of realities.

An honest singer, using his natural voice and speaking/singing the piece as a genuine communication, does wonders in bringing across the story--and it doesn't matter whether we are talking about maids being drowned in a millstream, or blood on the highway. It is the degree of communication of the song that matters.

Kendall Morse wows his audiences, because he completely himself and completely delivers the song with a natural clarity of intent--he doesn't try to sound like a bosn'n, but because of the directness of his delivery, it is wonderful easy to see the bosn's voice in what he sings.

IMHO, therein is the entire art of delivering a song to a listener.


A


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:22 PM

Amos, that was my point, too, Say the Song, as Joe Heaney advised.

My point of bringing up vocal folds is in response to Sleepy Rosie, to appreciate that if you are born with a light high voice, don't feel like you have to NOT BE YOURSELF to fit into folk music.

Alice


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Marje
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:23 PM

I don't think anyone has said a high voice isn't natural. If you have a naturally high speaking voice, your singing voice will be high too. But classical singers are often trained to extend their range as high as possible, which isn't a useful or appropriate thing to do for folk singing.
Singing with the head-voice (see Jim's post above) also makes the song sound higher in pitch than if the same notes are sung with chest voice. If you want an "earthier", less girlish sound, you don't have to lower the pitch or sing below your comfortable range, you just have to use chest-voice more.

Marje


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:27 PM

"How can I sing Kipling's wonderful line 'If sometimes our cunduc' isn't what your fancy paints' without lapsing into Dick van Dyke cockney"

George Orwell gave good advice on this when he wrote "One can often improve Kiplin's poems...by simply going through them and transplanting them from cockney into standard speech."   Write that "conduc" as "conduct" and sing it in whatever accent you feel at home in.

"Head voice, which appears to be confined to women singers, I don't think it is. And it shouldn't be disparaged, for it can be very effective. Doesn't suit some voices, doesn't suit some songs, but so what.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:34 PM

From: Sleepy Rosie - PM
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 11:32 AM

"What Makes a Folk Voice?"

If I had to answer this standing on one foot, I would say: un-self-consciousness. This strikes me as being an important characteristic shared by the performers I've heard in recordings of folk music that had been collected or performed by people who seemed to me to sing in an authentic way.

I can't recommend listening to recordings that were collected strongly enough. They are often not entertaining, but it's the real thing. Perhaps not superficially as tasty, but more filling.

On the other hand, what do _you_ like? Some people like Ewan MacColl, some people like Peter, Paul and Mary, some like both. I prefer people who sound like themselves, rather than those who try to sound like somebody or something else. If one is a middle-class, urban intellectual, then it's phoniness to try to sing like some other kind of person. A very, very difficult question, when it comes to performance.

I don't think Kathleen Ferrier had a "folk voice", but I love her versions of folk songs. There isn't just one right way to sing a song.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:39 PM

Two things always well worth learning are breathing and projection, both techniques help the singer to carry the song without distorting their voices.

Another tip is to imagine you are talking to a member of your family. A combination of the two can help the singer to develop a style that doesn't sound false. Also, work with material that suits the range of your voice.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:40 PM

Ah, but what does Orwell know, Kevin. he said there ws no pier at Wigan!

:D (eG)


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:45 PM

"[...] some people like Peter, Paul and Mary"

I think I was unclear here; I was _not_ comparing Ewan MacColl and PPM with each other and finding the latter wanting, or the other way around. I think, in fact, that PPM sang using their natural voices and were very good at what they did (not sure how they sound nowadays). I find it a bit prettified and slick now, but I don't think they were pretending to do anything other than what they did or be anything other than what they were.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:46 PM

Sleepy Rosie, if you want to try lowering your range a little, have a go at a blues or two - try 'Walking to Chicago' and have fun belting it out, but not in a head voice - get the feel of a gutsy, raunchy blues Mama.
Then try something in between - maybe copy Judy Collins or PP&M or even Judy Durham from the Seekers, if you can find recordings of them. Or in the UK, try recordings of the Watersons and Eliza Carthy for a strong natural voice - a diaphram voice.
As SPB and Leadfingers said, most of my songs were 'copied' from recordings of others and, at first, were sung in a voice as close to the original as I could get. (I never did sound like Judy Collins - more like Shirley Collins but I had fun trying all the styles).
Robyn


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:46 PM

I'm sure that Orwell could have had a distopian view of folk-singing as opposed to Huxley having a utopia where the individual's singing style is determined at birth :)


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:46 PM

Alice,I.dont underestimate anyone.
I am saying to have a folk voice[to be able to sing and communicate folk songs]requires that the singer has listened to alot of folk singers and absorbed the appropriate style.
the same applies to opera,to sing it effectively you have to love the music ,listened to a lot of it,and want to sing it.
a traditional /folk singer like myself would probably not make a good job of it[regardless of technique]because Idont like it, have not bothered to absorb the style,and dont want to sing it.
an opera singer who loved folk music could sing it,if he/she had listened to it a lot and was conscious that it required different treatment.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:52 PM

Sleepy Rosie, I'll send you a PM.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:58 PM

Rosie, it grieves me to say it, but there is some fairly standard folk forum misinformation on this thread.

Use good breath support, stay relaxed (especially mouth and throat) and sing in your comfortable range and in your own natural voice. Don't try to sound "folk" or assume any vocal characteristics other than what comes naturally. Just sing.

And heed what Alice says. She knows what she's talking about.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 02:12 PM

I don't/didn't like the voices of Bert Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, Shirley Collins, Burl Ives, Louis Killen or Peggy Seeger.

I did like, of the revival greats, Johhny Silvo (still alive) and Lal Waterson (sadly not). Martin Carthy had a great voice and it is still good but it is starting to age.

The individual voice in harmony bands are often not too great - take the Spinners, the Young Tradition, the Coppers - but the overall effect can be fine or better than fine. Peter Bellamy varied between inspired and unlistenable.

Ian Bruce is almost too good. Other current great voices: -
June Tabor
Norma Waterson (again, perhaps not what it once was)
Eliza Carthy
Peter Collins
Mike Nicholson
Tom Lewis
Both of Capella (but best together)
John Barden (on the soothing rather than fiery side)

I really do not approve of the breathy fey voices so much in fashion (both male and female). For me they are not great folk voices.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: bankley
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 02:29 PM

'Folk-al Chords' ?


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 03:27 PM

Richard - what have you got against one of the the best voices of all, John Tams? You've not mentioned him!


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 05:52 PM

I think he's a great narrator and storyteller, but while still a very good singer, not a "great" singer.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 07:02 PM

Rosie, Jim Carrol had posted to a thread that gave in depth & wonderful insight by him & others into the 'traditional singer's voice' involving his time with the Critics Club & comments by other posters.
Try this thread, long but chock full of great advice, you should read it all the way through.
Stylstic quirks in folk music

Good luck

Barry


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Ref
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 08:00 PM

ALL VOICES are "folk" voices. The beauty of folk music is that it doesn't require any particular quality.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 08:09 PM

Amen, Ref.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 03:04 AM


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Richie
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 03:40 AM

Hi,

The voice needs to fit the style of folk music. You have singers from Germany that don't speak English singing hillbilly music, imitating the accent, it sort of works.

A hillbilly singer singing Irish folk songs won't work. You have many styles of folk music and there are certain characteristics of that style. Zydeco, blues, hillbilly, Irish, English, Newfoundland and Labrador folk songs, Austrialian etc. etc. Each style has certain things that make it authentic sounding.

Also vibrato in general is bad. IMHO less vigrato is good. Singing with your full voice usually doesn't sound as natural although it's a good vocal technique.

Richie


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 04:15 AM

Ref:
"ALL VOICES are "folk" voices. The beauty of folk music is that it doesn't require any particular quality."
Not necessarily true - any more than 'all songs are folk songs'.
The English language song tradition is, by and large a narrative one and for me, the songs work best when the the singer takes on the role of a storyteller whose stories come with a tune.
Traditional singers have told us again and again that the most important thing about their songs is the story - in some cases we have recorded singers whose tunes hardly vary, but whose songs cover the whole spectrum of human experience. In Ireland, the older singers refer to 'telling' a song and not 'singing' it. The tune is the means by which a story is delivered, not an end in itself. I don't think this can be said of any other singing form, certainly not opera (please don't regard this as a critical comment, it isn't, I enjoy opera as music, not narrative, that's why I can listen to singers singing in a language I don't understand).
As for quality - there's a Mount Everest of a thread going on at the moment discussing this, and other related subjects without needing to spread the fighting onto this one.
Jim Carroll
PS Thank you Barry Finn for those kind words.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 04:28 AM

I don't know what happened to my post this morning. Disappeared into the ether.

My Mom (still a church soloist at 82) and assorted aunts and cousins all sopranos were my early influence. So I have/had (jury still out)that very high very light polished baptist hymn singing voice.

First real introduction to folk was well over decade ago, by daughter singing with friends in Medieval SCA and Chapel NC with band called Piper Doon. Follow that with exposure to Graham and Eileen Pratt (thanks to my current partner) and Kate Rusby (thanks to WRN - listener supported radio in Charlotteville VA) I have been working at scuffing the "polish" by mimicking any and every folk and blues voice that appeals to me ever since.

I tend to start every song down low in a nearly uncomfortable range, for fear of ending up stuck to the ceiling by the end of the piece. I am probably doing damage. Ah well, hopefully the damage will contribute to a decent folk quality. In any case I am enjoying myself and in the end that should be what it is about.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 08:07 AM

But then I've read on this same forum, that pure and lovely voices, just aint interesting for folk song

Depends on whether it's an interesting or dull pure and lovely voice...


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 08:44 AM

As far as I'm concerned, it's a combination of three things:

a) does it sound like your speaking voice, to the extent that someone who knew your speaking voice would recognise your singing voice?
b) can you hit the back wall with it?
c) are you singing something you really want to sing?

Tick all those boxes and you're away. I don't even think it matters what your speaking voice sounds like - I mean, it's hard to imagine someone with the speaking voice of Brian Sewell or Sister Wendy Beckett giving a good account of Haul Away Joe, but if it was a song they really wanted to sing I think that would carry them through. The expression that someone who cares about a song can put in is far more important than being able to imitate the 'right' accent.

The discussion of head vs chest is interesting. I don't know if that's what it is, but I know I've got two quite distinct singing styles. If I'm doing Out of the Window or She Moved Through the Fair or When I was in my Prime, what comes out is noticeably thinner, cleaner and higher-sounding than when I'm doing Jones's Ale or the Bonnie Bunch of Roses. (It's not really any higher, I've only got one vocal range.)


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 11:24 AM

Someone once told me, as an aspiring singer in the late 1950's, that the key to a "folk voice" was a "folk soul." To me, that simply meant feeling and being true to the music you select to perform. I've heard singers with great range and those who could barely negotiate one octave. Others have a naturally clear, pure sound, while others sound gravelly or "muddy" voices. Pick what makes sense with what you have and continue to work on expanding your possibilities.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 11:25 AM

Sorry; that last one got away from me before I could catch it.


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Subject: RE: What Makes a Folk Voice?
From: Alice
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 11:33 AM

Do you think a woman singing a lullaby 100 years ago would have the town telling her, you can't do that, you don't have the right kind of voice to sing!
Or a boy picking cotton would have the rest of the family yell at him, you can't sing that song, you don't have the right kind of voice!
It's fucking stupid to be so judgmental about people's voices.
If you want to sing, then SING!


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