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trad. song in duet form

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GUEST,leeneia 05 Mar 09 - 01:54 PM
Barry Finn 05 Mar 09 - 02:24 PM
Don Firth 05 Mar 09 - 02:29 PM
Artful Codger 05 Mar 09 - 04:14 PM
curmudgeon 05 Mar 09 - 04:18 PM
Phil Cooper 05 Mar 09 - 04:23 PM
GUEST,Russ 05 Mar 09 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,Dave Hunt 05 Mar 09 - 06:24 PM
Leadfingers 05 Mar 09 - 07:00 PM
GUEST,leeneia 05 Mar 09 - 09:56 PM
Don Firth 05 Mar 09 - 10:39 PM
Ross Campbell 05 Mar 09 - 11:02 PM
Anglo 06 Mar 09 - 01:56 AM
Artful Codger 06 Mar 09 - 03:16 AM
GUEST,leeneia 06 Mar 09 - 09:33 AM
GUEST,GUEST, Vicki Kelsey 06 Mar 09 - 11:41 PM
Barry Finn 07 Mar 09 - 12:19 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Mar 09 - 07:21 AM
topical tom 07 Mar 09 - 09:24 AM
Artful Codger 07 Mar 09 - 03:27 PM
GUEST,leeneia 07 Mar 09 - 04:31 PM
Artful Codger 07 Mar 09 - 11:47 PM
nutty 08 Mar 09 - 05:58 AM
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Subject: trad. song in duet form
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 01:54 PM

A recent thread provided a link to this singing by Peter Bellamy:

video of song with two parts

As you can hear, the song has two parts, both apparently sung by Peter Bellamy. I've heard this kind of music before, but not often. I'm curious about it.

Does a traditional-music duet like this have a special name? Where do people find the parts? Learning that lower part is no easy thing - how do people do it?


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Barry Finn
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 02:24 PM

Peter is doing the lead only, I can only guess at the low harmony (maybe Lou Killen). If you check out the "Copper Family" you'll find this style of duet singing. Other groups to listen would be the "Young Tradition" & the "Watersons".

Barry


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 02:29 PM

Interesting question. I don't know if there is any specific category of such songs. Some songs do lend themselves very well to two parts. For example, the sea chantey, "Go down, you blood red roses." Having heard it sung as a duet (powerful harmony, mostly in fifths), I have a hard time imagining it sung solo.

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

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

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Artful Codger
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 04:14 PM

That cut was probably taken from the Bellamy compilation Wake the Vaulted Echoes--that same picture is used on the front cover. The track was originally released on Both Sides Then, and the other singer was indeed Louis Killen.

For other examples of this kind of harmony, check out these classic pairings: Lou and Sally Killen, John Roberts and Tony Barrand, Ian Robb and Margaret Cristl, Maddy Prior and June Tabor. The Coppers and the Watersons also did a fair number of duet harmonies. Peter Bellamy wrote some nice duets for Mike and Norma Waterson in his ballad opera The Transports.


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: curmudgeon
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 04:18 PM

Also, Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor - Tom


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 04:23 PM

Our friends in the band The Gaping Maw said that they worked out harmonies in (four parts in this case), by singing till their arm hair stood up, then they figured they had good parts. Listening to their one album, I they were right. I think it's better, in folk music at least, to go by how the harmonies feel, than by what notes would work in a classical sense.


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 05:18 PM

Lots of duet singing in the states
Carter Family, all the "brother" duets like the Blue Sky Boys and the Stanley brothers, etc.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: GUEST,Dave Hunt
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 06:24 PM

See if you can get hold of any recordingsa by 'The Voice Squad'(now disbandedunfortunately) - great harmony singing
Davie H


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Leadfingers
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 07:00 PM

MY definaition of Harmony singing ! Wander OFF the melody til it sounds nice !


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 09:56 PM

I'm familiar with the kind of harmony where a person starts a third below or a fifth above and cautiously tries out a new part. However, the harmony on the video seems more complicated than that. It seems to have a lot of unusual intervals.

I can't imagine Singer A having the patience to sing the melody again and again until Singer B has worked out and memorized a line like the Louis Killen line in the video.


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 10:39 PM

What Bob Nelson and I did back when we were active as a duo is that whoever was going to sing the melody made a tape of it and gave it to the other to sing along with. Then, when we got together to practice, it was pretty well worked out and all we needed to do was smooth off the rough edges.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 11:02 PM

Singers like Peter Bellamy and Louis Killen were long-time friends and followers of the Copper Family (see "Related Videos" in the YouTube page for an example} who have a family tradition of harmony singing going back many generations. The harmonies sound somewhat strange to people used to classical or standard church harmonies, but are related to arrangements used in West Gallery music. Familiarity with a wide range of such material is just the starting-point.

Some people have the ability to harmonise at will, and I would say Louis Killen would not have had a great problem finding and setting a harmony line after a couple of runs through the song (and I don't mean in any way to diminish the skill involved). If they were modelling on an existing arrangement (this could be a Copper Family song, I'm not sure), so much the easier.

I can do this myself, and have been lucky enough in life to find a few other people capable of working like this. When it does work, there's nothing better.

Ross


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Anglo
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 01:56 AM

I've sung with Louis many times, as a duo and a trio, in a cappella harmony. Exactly as people say, Louis finds harmonies at will and is great at it.

He'll be back in the States this summer, at the Mystic Sea Music and Old Songs festivals in June, should any of you choose to make the trek.

It would be worth it.


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Artful Codger
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 03:16 AM

Leadfingers: About how many yards do you have to wander off till it sounds good to the audience? ;-}

I think the key is just practice. I've always enjoyed singing harmony, and picked up the "art" of harmonic improvisation just by listening to lots of brilliant harmonists (both vocal and instrumental) and singing harmony to recordings--or even to melodies in my head as I showered or drove. (They told me to kill you all, but that's another matter.) Now I improvise vocal harmony lines for anything from folk to jazz off the cuff.


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 09:33 AM

Thanks, Artful Codger. (May I call you Art? ..... Just kidding.)

It's nice to hear from someone who actually does this kind of singing.

Evidently the answer is

1) you have to have a special talent and

2) before there were recordings, you had to be able to hear the melody in your head while singing a proposed part aloud.
=========
Now, what did people do before there were showers to sing in?


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: GUEST,GUEST, Vicki Kelsey
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 11:41 PM

Anglo (John Roberts) himself is gifted at this sort of harmony, as heard in all the John Roberts and Tony Barrand recordings (and live, of course).
    Since he is very knowledgeable musically, I don't know if he does it with the same ease as Louis Killen, or carefully works it out, but you won't go wrong listening to either of these great singers on any occasion.


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Barry Finn
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 12:19 AM

Anglo/John has a very fine ear for singing this kind of harmony or any harmony for that matter & he does pick it up at the drop of a hat. Just listen to his CD's with Tony or buy a couple. He's been singing in this fine style since I was in diapers. And I was old when Hector was just a pup. Sorry John but you are older than me.

Barry


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 07:21 AM

As you can hear, the song has two parts, both apparently sung by Peter Bellamy.

The Shepherd of the Downs is from the Copper Family, who (according to the notes to Both Sides Then) believe the song to be the oldest in their repertoire.

Otherwise, I see harmony singing as an essentially improvisatory business, although when you hit on something good you hang onto it for dear life. Rapunzel & I come up with most of our arrangements in the car; have a listen at our Myspace page: Venereum Arvum. She tends to do the harmonising, though I'm happy with the chorus harmonies I came up with for Alison Gross and The Trees they Do Grow High.


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: topical tom
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 09:24 AM

Some very good and sometimes quite unusual harmonies are to be found in the singing of Peter and Lou Berryman.


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Artful Codger
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 03:27 PM

For innovative harmonies (and lyrics), listen to The Roches. They have a wonderful talent for challenging expectations and conventions in harmony singing, even though in the main they use traditional triad intervals between parts.

Uncle Bonsai is another group (now disbanded) that deserves study for their fresh harmonies. (BTW, they wrote a beautifully lyrical stylistic parody of The Roches, "Big Chihuahua": "The world is a big chihuahua / that's been stuck in the microwave...")

You may say, "Yeah, but they were doing contemporary three-part harmony, with instruments." Even so, much of what they did can be applied to two-part unaccompanied singing. Listening to them will break open your ideas of how harmonies have to work.


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 04:31 PM

Hello, Sinister. Thanks for the link to your page. I enjoyed listening to your singing.

Artful, when you refer the Roches, do you mean sisters who started their career on the streets of the Bronx?


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: Artful Codger
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 11:47 PM

Yup, yup. I particularly recommend the Roches' albums "Can We Go Home Now" and "A Dove", though "Keep On Doing" is probably their most popular.


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Subject: RE: trad. song in duet form
From: nutty
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 05:58 AM

There are no finer harmony singers in the UK today than THE WILSON FAMILY. Their new CD is advertised in another thread and is highly recommended.

The advantage of listening to them is that whatever your voice type there is always a harmony that you can recognise and sing along with.
Which is a great way to start developing your own harmonies.


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