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Infuriating: singers teaching choruses

Zimmerman 21 May 09 - 06:19 PM
open mike 21 May 09 - 08:54 PM
Ref 21 May 09 - 09:29 PM
curmudgeon 21 May 09 - 09:32 PM
Ron Davies 21 May 09 - 09:37 PM
Maryrrf 21 May 09 - 09:56 PM
Ernest 22 May 09 - 01:38 AM
Anglo 22 May 09 - 02:13 AM
GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie 22 May 09 - 02:31 AM
VirginiaTam 22 May 09 - 02:39 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 22 May 09 - 04:17 AM
Artful Codger 22 May 09 - 04:24 AM
Hamish 22 May 09 - 05:29 AM
greg stephens 22 May 09 - 05:43 AM
SPB-Cooperator 22 May 09 - 06:14 AM
Vic Smith 22 May 09 - 06:28 AM
Will Fly 22 May 09 - 06:39 AM
Tug the Cox 22 May 09 - 06:43 AM
Midchuck 22 May 09 - 08:08 AM
Bat Goddess 22 May 09 - 08:22 AM
Dave Swan 22 May 09 - 09:25 AM
Jim Carroll 23 May 09 - 03:55 AM
Acorn4 23 May 09 - 04:49 AM
billybob 23 May 09 - 05:13 AM
glueman 23 May 09 - 05:16 AM
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Subject: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Zimmerman
Date: 21 May 09 - 06:19 PM

Having not been to a folk club for ages I revisited one recently and found that singers are still doing that annoying thing of trying to teach the audience a chorus with that stupid sing-song spoken intonation - half apologetic yet somehow infuriatingly conceited.

If a song has a chorus or refrain it ought to be to be easy enough to be picked up by the audience without hectoring - and especially not by making them repeat it line for line in spoken form, which I've heard more than once.

End of rant - I'll get my coat.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: open mike
Date: 21 May 09 - 08:54 PM

are you mad that the performer is asking the audience to sing along?
in many audiences i am in we enjoy participating and are glad to get
the chance.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Ref
Date: 21 May 09 - 09:29 PM

I don't think it's the "sing-along" Zim's objecting to as much as the nursery schoolish method of teaching the chorus.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: curmudgeon
Date: 21 May 09 - 09:32 PM

Arlo Guthrie did a great parody of this approach at a concert here he was about to sing "Row By Row," or whatever the official name is.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Ron Davies
Date: 21 May 09 - 09:37 PM

The thread title is a bit misleading.   I'd certainly agree the leader should be able to recite the words of the chorus through once so everybody hears exactly what they are, then sing the chorus once. At that point any folkie audience should be able to hang on.

Perhaps unless the song is in a foreign language--which I gather was not the case here.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Maryrrf
Date: 21 May 09 - 09:56 PM

"I don't think it's the "sing-along" Zim's objecting to as much as the nursery schoolish method of teaching the chorus."

Agreed! I don't mind if they run through the chorus but when I start feeling like I'm back in kindergarten (the performer says things like "I can't hear you, let's try that again...there's a group over on the left that isn't singing....etc.) I find it annoying.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Ernest
Date: 22 May 09 - 01:38 AM

We got the same association, curmudgeon!

The official name of "Row by Row" is "The Garden Song" btw (but the name of its writer escapes me now).

Zimmerman, did the rest of the audience show the same feeling as you or were they happy with it and sang along without making mistakes?

Regards
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Anglo
Date: 22 May 09 - 02:13 AM

The Garden Song is by Dave Mallett.

I remember Peggy Seeger (with Ewan MacColl) stopping a song at the first chorus because most of the crowd hadn't got a particular note right. She taught the interval required and then they continued.

Sometimes singers don't do a chorus that everyone knows already. I know a quick run through the words may not be enough for me. For the words or for the tune. I don't necessarily like a nursery school approach, but by the time the song gets done properly, a good singing audience can enjoy knowing the chorus before the song proper starts.

Just my 2¢.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie
Date: 22 May 09 - 02:31 AM

I blame it on the infuriatingly high ratio of teachers that you get on the folk scene!


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 22 May 09 - 02:39 AM

Soemtimes it may be a case of interpretation as much a presentation. I have caught myself more than once resenting what I considered to be patronising instruction (not necessarily in a musical setting)only to realise it was my own foul mood or limiting preconceptions colouring the event.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 22 May 09 - 04:17 AM

It's the songs 'with actions' that get me - and the obligatory teach the audience the actions whether they want to or not sessions.

I'll get me gun ...


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Artful Codger
Date: 22 May 09 - 04:24 AM

The group Uncle Bonsai has a CD called "Sponge Boy" in which most of the recording (an extended single) is devoted to teaching the audience their parts of the song. It's hilarious.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Hamish
Date: 22 May 09 - 05:29 AM

It depends. As always. Songs which have complicated choruses and only three verses need a run through if you want the audience to join in. For a shanty which is mostly repeats and has loads of verses, then it's not necessary. And when it's in between.... I'll best stop there in case I'm starting to sound school-teacherish.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 09 - 05:43 AM

The best song for really irritating instructions is "The Keeper Did a Hunting Go". This can really bring out the "teacher within".


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 22 May 09 - 06:14 AM

Isn't part of crafting a good song writing choruses that are easy to pick up and join in with?


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Vic Smith
Date: 22 May 09 - 06:28 AM

Anglo wrote

"I remember Peggy Seeger (with Ewan MacColl) stopping a song at the first chorus because most of the crowd hadn't got a particular note right. She taught the interval required and then they continued."


What an unhappy memory that brings back! I remember Peggy (with Ewan) teaching a chorus to a packed club in Brighton in the early '70s -

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Five times five are twenty-five
Six times five are thirty.....


Now all sing that.......

No, no, no. Some of you are singing thirty..... (Peggy demonstrates two syllables on the same note)

It should be be thirty.....(Peggy demonstrates the second syllable dropping a fifth)

Lets all try that again.......

And once more just to be sure......

Now the rest of the chorus. I'll teach in in short sections.....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You'll have to believe me that this went on for about ten minutes by the end of which about a quarter of the audience had walked out.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 May 09 - 06:39 AM

What a useful thread this has been. I've put my name down to sing Spike Jones's "Der Fuehrer's Face" at the Lewes Saturday Club's World War 2 theme evening on 4th July. This has the repeated lines: "so we heil! (raspberry) heil! (raspberry) right in Der Fuehrer's Face".

Now, I know Valmai has been practising her raspberry/Bronx cheer/farting sounds on the train to Seaford, in anticipation of joining in on this. So, the questions for me are: do I rehearse the audience beforehand to get the correct farting sound... would it be a good idea to have the ladies do the first farting sound in the line, and the gentlemen to do the second one... or is an ensemble farting noise better...

Questions, questions.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 22 May 09 - 06:43 AM

As with all these threads, bad practice is just bad practice. A good performer ( not necessarily the same as a good singer) can usually sense how much guidance the audience need.If they have already joined in some choruses with gusto, then probaly starting with the chorus wil be sufficient. If they are obviously not a knowledgeable crowd, sing something with a short refrain.
   You are there to entertain them, not show off your knowledge AND expect people to join in long choruses. I know several performers who think that they are God's gift to the audience. The problem starts when the performer thinks that the audience is God's gift to him.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Midchuck
Date: 22 May 09 - 08:08 AM

One of the very few songs I do with a chorus on which it is important for the audience to sing along is the Austin Lounge Lizards' "Old Blevins."

I've never had problems teaching people the chorus.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 22 May 09 - 08:22 AM

Zimmerman, I've always found it very annoying, too. If I don't know the song, I listen a few times 'round to pick up the chorus. If I have a question about a word or two, I'll ask afterwards. If it's the only time we'll ever hear the song -- well, then why learn the chorus anyway?

If the chorus is different from the commonly sung one, then by all means point it out.

Otherwise, just sing the damned song and we'll join in when we're ready!


Linn


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Dave Swan
Date: 22 May 09 - 09:25 AM

Linn has said it well, I think.

I'll add that I can't stand chorus interruptus, where the community obviously knows the chorus, has a good head of steam and is brought to a halt by the singer who fails to take this in, because he/she ALWAYS stops there to do something cute associated with teaching the chorus.

Drives me nuts.

D


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 09 - 03:55 AM

After being embroiled in the 'When Not To Sing' thread, I've been reading this one with some interest.
Personally, being taught choruses never bothered me too much as long as it didn't go on for too long.
Peggy Seeger did tend to drag it out on occasion; on the other hand, she did have perfect pitch and their repertoire included some superb tunes with quite complicated choruses. When it worked it did so superbly - hers and Ewan's 'Baron of Lys' chorus was always great fun to sing - and after a few sessions of her chorus teaching, the learning of difficult tunes has always been a doddle (for me) and has stuck with me far longer than the learning of new sets of words has, for which I've always been grateful.
One (only one) of the side effects of the abhorrent practice of joining in on every song is that quite often an audience will iron out the subtlties of a tune, especially if it's slightly different to the generally known one, leading to ragged, undefined tunes. I used to sing 'Scarborough Fair' to the Kidson tune which I much prefer to the Mark Anderson one - I know bloody well I would not get way with doing so in a 'singalong' club.
We usually finished the Singers Club evenings with a well-known chorus song, quite often 'The Leaving of Liverpool' or 'I'm A Rover, Seldom Sober'. Both of these have great choruses, but, when draggeed out, can be mournful dirges.
Personally, I would rather spend the minute or so it takes to get the chorus right than let the evening finish with a funereal feel that dragged out, tiredly sung choruses can generate.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: Acorn4
Date: 23 May 09 - 04:49 AM

It's the songs 'with actions' that get me - and the obligatory teach the audience the actions whether they want to or not sessions.

On the other hand, there are people who can carry this off magnificently -Keith Donnelly springs to mind.


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: billybob
Date: 23 May 09 - 05:13 AM

When Keith Donnelly is performing it is difficalt to do the actions as you need both hands to wipe away the tears of laughter!


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Subject: RE: Infuriating: singers teaching choruses
From: glueman
Date: 23 May 09 - 05:16 AM

If there must be a how-to it should be a one-off and take no longer than the chorus itself. If you have to learn more than a few words it's probably inappropriate for a new audience. Use a plant in the crowd to give them a clue when the chorus comes round but labouring the point will guarantee people heading to the bar.


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