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Irish accent right or wrong?

Ted from Australia 09 Jul 99 - 09:25 AM
Allan C. 09 Jul 99 - 09:46 AM
Bert 09 Jul 99 - 09:51 AM
KingBrilliant 09 Jul 99 - 09:53 AM
Allan C. 09 Jul 99 - 10:00 AM
Liam's Brother 09 Jul 99 - 10:22 AM
Big Mick 09 Jul 99 - 10:24 AM
09 Jul 99 - 12:29 PM
Indy Lass 09 Jul 99 - 01:00 PM
DonMeixner 09 Jul 99 - 05:06 PM
Ted from Australia 09 Jul 99 - 06:18 PM
Margo 09 Jul 99 - 06:36 PM
Big Mick 09 Jul 99 - 06:41 PM
Ted from Australia 09 Jul 99 - 07:01 PM
Chet W. 09 Jul 99 - 08:25 PM
SeanM 09 Jul 99 - 11:16 PM
Jack Hickman - Kingston, ON 09 Jul 99 - 11:50 PM
danielspiritsong 10 Jul 99 - 12:22 AM
Big Mick 10 Jul 99 - 08:34 AM
Joe Offer 10 Jul 99 - 01:09 PM
alison 10 Jul 99 - 11:21 PM
Joe Offer 11 Jul 99 - 03:13 AM
SeanM 11 Jul 99 - 03:20 AM
11 Jul 99 - 09:09 AM
Chet W. 11 Jul 99 - 12:55 PM
Chet W. 11 Jul 99 - 01:03 PM
Big Mick 11 Jul 99 - 11:40 PM
Tom on Comfort 12 Jul 99 - 01:54 AM
John in Brisbane 12 Jul 99 - 03:47 AM
Richard Bridge 13 Jul 99 - 05:00 PM
KingBrilliant 24 Aug 99 - 04:37 AM
GeorgeH 24 Aug 99 - 08:38 AM
KingBrilliant 24 Aug 99 - 09:11 AM
Bert 24 Aug 99 - 12:45 PM
domenico 24 Aug 99 - 01:10 PM
j0_77 24 Aug 99 - 01:23 PM
GeorgeH 24 Aug 99 - 01:36 PM
Bert 24 Aug 99 - 01:57 PM
domenico 24 Aug 99 - 02:27 PM
KingBrilliant 25 Aug 99 - 02:49 AM
Steve Parkes 25 Aug 99 - 03:50 AM
KingBrilliant 25 Aug 99 - 04:11 AM
Sourdough 25 Aug 99 - 06:25 AM
GeorgeH 25 Aug 99 - 06:41 AM
Steve Parkes 25 Aug 99 - 07:36 AM
j0_77 25 Aug 99 - 09:10 AM
Roger the zimmer 25 Aug 99 - 10:33 AM
Cara 25 Aug 99 - 11:34 AM
Steve Parkes 25 Aug 99 - 12:33 PM
Steve Parkes 25 Aug 99 - 12:34 PM
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Subject: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Ted from Australia
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 09:25 AM

When I am singing Irish songs I find myself slipping deeper and deeper into my version of an Irish accent, or as I have heard my Irish friends sing it

Does anyone else do this ? And do you think it right or wrong to assume an accent to go with the song?
To sing, say. "The Patriot Game" in my aussie accent would just sound ludicrous,
Let us know what you think.

Regards Ted


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Allan C.
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 09:46 AM

I fully agree that there are certain songs which cry out for an accent of one kind or another. My sense of it is that as long as my poor imitation of a particular accent adds to, rather than detracts from the feeling of the song, then I go ahead and give it my best shot. Sure, there would always be purists who would tell me to just leave the song to those more linguistically qualified; but I think the majority of audiences would lean more toward getting the flavor of the song rather than being picky about the inflections, etc.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Bert
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 09:51 AM

I usually try to avoid using a 'foreign' accent. Sometimes you have to though, to get the words to rhyme.

I don't think it's problem, if it feels right to you, it should be OK.

How do you react when you hear other folks singing Aussie songs? Do they sound funny to you or don't you notice?

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 09:53 AM

I agree with Allan. There are some things where the lack of at least a shot at an accent would jar due to ruining a rhyming bit. Can't think of an example right now to justify myself, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Allan C.
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 10:00 AM

Last night, for instance, I took a stab at "The Mountains of Mourne". Its lyrics don't require an accent to make it rhyme, but without one, the song seems lacking.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 10:22 AM

Hi Ted!

The whole idea of accents is quite interesting.

When they make movies of the Old West, everybody speaks with a "Why, thank you, Miss Mollie, that'd be right nice of you" accent. How did people in the Old West really speak? I read somewhere that majority who took part in the 1849 Gold Rush were from the Eastern U.S. and that, of those, a great many were immigrants.

By the time I was 17, I had lived in England, Ireland, Canada, America, England again and America again. Most people figure you're born someplace and die there or you're born in A and move to B. They like it simple. I've never lived anywhere where people didn't think I was from somewhere else!

Kevin Burke, the fiddler, was born in London of Irish parents. He spent a lot of his youth in Ireland and, of course, in his parents' company. I haven't seen him in years but he used to pronounce individual words in a sentence either with an English accent or an Irish accent. That was one of the more bizarre ways of speaking I've ever heard but it was entirely natural.

If I can be so bold as to offer advice, concentrate on singing a song as though you really mean it, as though you were there when the events were taking place. That's how Joe Heaney sang; that's how I try to sing. If you can't do that with certain songs, just sing them for yourself until you can.

Some songs are dialect pieces. I would not say that "The Patriot Game" is one of them. Hey, just sing it like your name's O'Hanlon and hear what comes out.

All the best, Dan


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Big Mick
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 10:24 AM

To me this is no different than when one is singing a song of the sea and one affects the slang and the idioms of the sailor. In Irish music, could you imagine singing "The Finding of Moses" without taking on the appropriate Dublin accent? It seems to me that if one is compelled to sing a song that requires an accent, then one should commit themselves to learning to reproduce it faithfully. Imagine also trying to sing in the language of a country, such as Gaelige or French, but taking no time to learn appropriate pronounciations. I feel that if a dialect is needed for the interpretation, then one should be used. In my opinion it has to do with remaining faithful to the music. On the other hand, there are large numbers of songs that require no accent to sing well.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From:
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 12:29 PM

It depends on two things.

First, the song has to require, it and as others above have noted, some do. Water is Alright in Tay would never work without at least a little lapse into an accent. Same for Rocky Road to Dublin. Also, a lot of blues tunes require that the singer get the dialect and intonation right, Big Road Blues for instance. And You can't sing a cajun song, especially in its original french dialect without that accent.

Second, you have to be able to do the accent right. If the singer doesn't have the ear for the accent, or lays it on too thick it can sound phony, which is worse for the song than no accent at all.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Indy Lass
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 01:00 PM

When I asked a couple of singers who play around the Chicago area if they used the accent, their reply was, "Well, after we heard an Irishman attempt to sing with an American accent, we decided that not using our own native, established accent maybe was a mistake." I've listened to the Gealic dialects and accents from recordings so much that I find it easier to use the Irish accent. I've asked people after a casual performance about my fake accent and they said they don't really notice any "fakeness." So it works for me.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 05:06 PM

I have avoided using accents on any songs unless they are a very broad burlesque of a certain style. Henry The 8TH frinstance. I view it the same way as I do singing songs in a foreign language that I don't speak to an audience that hasn't a clue what I am singing about. (This happens too frequently in music clubs.) Phil Shapiro, who runs Bound For Glory on WVBR in Ithaca NY won't let anyone on his show who affects and accent, not their own. I feel the same way.

I still recall in amazement the night my band finished a Tom Paxton tune that I sing. John Stack of County Mayo and County Clare can up to me after I finished Can't Help But Wonder.... and said " Good job Donald, got the accent just right!"

Don


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Ted from Australia
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 06:18 PM

Bert,

Your comment is what started mw off on this thread
Hearing an American sing Waltzing matilda with a stab at an aussie accent. I,m Not sure if he was trying to be funny,ironic or what but it was ludicrous.

When Irish sing it I don't notice.
Dan,
Thanx for the advice. I work so hard at "getting inside the song" that sometimes I can almost not finish it from getting choked up with emotion. "Patriot Game" being only one of manny that does it for me (subject for another thread?)

As for singing with an American accent, Well we (in OZ at least ,and probably the rest of the English speaking world) are likely exposed to more American accent via the media than Australian. I find that nearly everyone (Irish included) can offer up an adequate American dialect to go with the song. It is what we are used to hearing.

Mick,(and Anon) (You hansome silver tounged devil you)(With *my* toung planted firmly in my cheek)

Yes I think I have got the accent off pretty well. Haven't had the time to have a shot at gaelic 'tho. Not too many Gaelic speakers in Cairns.

Anniglen Good idea, I will ask some audience next time.

Regards, Ted.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Margo
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 06:36 PM

This is an interesting thread for me because I studied classical singing. I was required to take a diction class where we learned the international phonetic alphabet (IPA) and had to apply that to lyrics to songs in French, Italian, German and Spanish. It was a very exact science.

For our purposes, such exactness isn't really imperitive. I think using an accent is ok, and as it has already been pointed out, it can be done well or badly.

I would suggest finding a recording of your song done by someone Irish so you can listen and emulate them. Go for it, and like Anniglen suggests, ask the audience!

Margarita


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Big Mick
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 06:41 PM

Hey Ted,

Help me out here a bit. I am not sure what I said that was so silver tongued. Or was that intended for our anonymous friend? Help me with a little context.

Don, it is my opinion that all songs should start with Dan's advice, and that is to get into the spirit of the song and concentrate very hard on the proper interpretation. And I agree that an accent, done poorly, is a detraction. But done well, and in the spirit that the song was written it adds to the song and doesn't detract. Just my opinion, but I have been around so many immigrants in my family and my life, that it isn't like putting it on. And the feedback I get from the immigrant fans of our band is extremely positive. These are comments that often come through third parties, unsolicited by us.

I still say it comes down to your committment to the music and being faithful to it. If you are not, best to leave it alone. Otherwise it comes off like a caricature. And Lord knows we don't need any more stereotypes.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Ted from Australia
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 07:01 PM

Mick,
I was refering to your supposed prowess eith the opp sex inferred (many)in other threads NOI :-)

Regards Ted


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Chet W.
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 08:25 PM

I was just saying to my partner last night, all good music is theater. Whatever the song, you're selling a character (which may be yourself) and a story, just like acting in a play. So, if the song calls for it and you can pull it off, by all means do it. If it sounds silly, though, don't.

Chet


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: SeanM
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 11:16 PM

Accents also have a tendency to distort the voice, unless you're really used to singing in it... guy in my group, has a very nice voice... every now and then slips into a pseudo-Irish brogue. Sometimes it works, but if he's tired at all, it just sharps the notes voice and gives his voice a really pronounced nasal pitch...

M


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Jack Hickman - Kingston, ON
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 11:50 PM

There may be occasions when a person can emulate an Irish accent, or any other accent for that matter. These are rare, however, and in most cases where I have heard a performer try to put on an accent, it sounds so phony that it takes completely away from the song. I can't think of any song in the Irish repertoire which would be improved upon by the singer putting an accent.

Jack Hickman


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: danielspiritsong
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 12:22 AM

If the accent feels right. Do it. Otherwise, don't. Audiences really don't care. If you're uncomfortable though, they'll know.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Big Mick
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 08:34 AM

Ted,

LMAO and no offense was taken. I just couldn't figure it out. And don't believe everything you hear. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 01:09 PM

I think accents work fine, as long as you don't overdo it. Also, it might be a good idea not to use an accent in the area the accent is from. If I were singing an Irish song in Ireland, I wouldn't attempt an Irish accent. It would be a different story if I were singing it in Michigan.
When I lived in Berlin in the early 70's, I was 120 miles away from the rest of West Germany. I didn't attempt an accent when I spoke German in Berlin, since I knew I couldn't get away with it. I used a Berliner accent when I was in the rest of Germany, and it worked quite well. They couldn't figure out where I was from, but they thought I must be some sort of northern European. After all, who ever heard of an American speaking anything but American English?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: alison
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 11:21 PM

OH dear.. now I'm going to disagree with you all.....

I HATE hearing Aussies trying to do Irish accents. some of them do it well and that is OK... but I have heard so many trying to sing like Christy Moore because they happen to be singing a Christy Moore song. And if you ever hear "Reel in the flickering light"(or should I say "loight" done by someone who is not even close to the accent it is downright painful!

If you are going to do an accent.... please try to get it at least partly right. There's nothing worse than a song that starts sort of Irish by the next verse is sort of Scottish, 3rd verse German with a hint of Welsh etc.....

I have the problem in reverse.. I sing with aussies and do a lot of aussie songs and my accent is hugely different to theirs on certain words..... but I'm outnumbered 4 to 1 so I will go with their pronounciation so as the band as a whole doesn't sound odd. but if I'm singing on my own... it'll be in my accent.

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 03:13 AM

...and a wonderful accent it is, Fair Alison...
But anyhow, I wanted to say how my kids went through a period in the 80's when they thought that they had to use a British accent whenever they sang their wannabe rock idol songs. Now they're doing punk rock, and I can't understand what they're singing at all. Maybe it's just as well.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: SeanM
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 03:20 AM

Sadly enough Joe, a lot of those punker kids are trying to affect one of a variety of accents depending on where their favorite bands are from... listen carefully, and you can hear the tortured adolescent versions of Liverpool/Manchester/other variety of Londoner/British, New York, and Southern Californian...

I think my last bizzare hair dye has worn off now...

M


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From:
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 09:09 AM

I'm hypocritical and somewhat ambiguous on this question, as I'll explain later on. I think on the whole that people shouldn't change their accents from song to song. And I'm especially doubtful of Joe's proffered strategy of changing the accent in which one sings according to who is in the audience! You're likely to throw yourself off when you try to change your usual way of doing the song- and anyway, the native might be in the audience anywhere.

Poor imitations of an accent are very irritating to listeners who know the accent well. (Granted, the fine points of an accent are more obvious when speaking than when singing.) And how specific should the accent be? There isn't ONE Irish accent, ONE English accent, ONE American accent, etc. I think some people writing in this thread are confusing accent with using dialect words or different pronunciation of specific words. Though I admit that Scottish dialect can be so distinctive that it seems to cry out for a Scottish accent. I prefer to sing, for example, "Fareweel tae Tarwathie" to "Farewell to Tarwathie", and I do use some sort of Scottish accent - but I'm self-conscious about this and don't usually sing my Scottish repetoire in public! For one thing, I don't always know which dialect pronunciation is appropriate to an individual song. Recently in Skye, I was sitting with two men who were discussing a third man known as "Mouse". Although they were both talking together about the same man, the speaker from Kirkaldy, Fife consistently pronounced the name to rhyme with "house" and the speaker from Aberdeen pronounced it to rhyme with "Loose" - with no implication that "Mouse" resembled an elk!

I've had a few experiences of being distracted by what I felt were poor American accents by Irish actors or poor Ulster accents by Scottish and English accents. Nancy Griffith doesn't use an ersatz accent when she sings English language Irish songs, and she sings them well. Lots of Irish singers sing English songs (songs which they got directly from English sources rather than ones that have been well absorbed into Irish tradition) without altering their accents. Even if an accent is well done, the listener may feel the singer is being phoney. I remember feeling let down when I first learned that Ewan MacColl was a Brummie (I suppose he faithfully imitated his parents' accent?).

My ambiguity: I can accept what others in this thread have said about there being no overall prescription, that it depends on the nature and regional distinctiveness of the particular song and of the knowledge and skill of the individual singer. What bothers me most is people making unintelligent, unthinking choices to adopt an accent other than their own. After the Furey Brothers popularised "Willy McBride" (No Man's Land, The Green Fields of France), I heard pub entertainers in Derry singing the song with a Dublin accent copied from the Fureys. this struck me as absurd. The song was written by a Scotsman who has settled in Australia. The 'action' takes place in France and the singer could be of any nationality that had individuals fighting there in the first world war. A Derry accent would be at least as appropriate as a Dublin accent!
Well, I'm NOT ambiguous about the above example, but I am about this one. I'm a bit shy about mentioning it as Virginia Blankenhorn and her husband are sometime Mudcat contributors. But then,it could be good if Virginia responds to this letter. Virginia is American and she recorded an album in Irish-language in which she sounds to me like a native of Conamara. Okay, I'm envious, I wish I could sound just like I was from, for example, Rann na Feirste, when I speak Irish. But I felt that Virginia's singing was absolutely imitative, not expressive of herself. I mentioned my reaction to a native Irish speaker, Hugh Hudaí Og of Gaoth Dobhair, Co Donegal. He suggested to me that as a learner, rather than native speaker, Virginia had to take extra pains to represent the tradition faithfully. That makes sense to me. As a native English speaker, I feel much more free to alter English-language songs (even from different cultural backgrounds), and to sing them as I wish to (including occasional changing in phrasing, intonation, vocabulary), than I do to 'play' with Irish-language songs. If a singer pronounces a given Irish-language word differently than I would in speech, I would probably choose to follow the example of the singer in case changing it seemed inconsistent within the song - I wouldn't often have the confidence to make my own judgement on the matter.

About two years ago, I heard two interviews with Virginia Blankenhorn on Raidio na Gaeltachta. On the old recorded interview, she sounded like a native speaker from somewhere in Conamara. Since then, she had lived in Northern Ireland, in Scotland and moved back to the US. In the interview over the phone, Virginia's accent and vocabulary were more eclectic. She was equally fluent in both interviews, but arguably more 'correct' in the first and more authentic in the latter. Which example would I rather emulate?

My hypocrisy: My accent does vary with the songs I sing. I started listening to recorded folk song (mostly in English) from various ethnic and national origins when I was only 10 years old. My natural tendency was to imitate the accent of the singer, and a lot of my early inclination has stayed with me - especially when I am singing songs I learned in childhood and adolescence. Also, I have travelled quite a bit and I've lived in different places (mostly New York state, US and Derry city, N Ireland) and my everyday accent is a hybrid.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Chet W.
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 12:55 PM

Yes but could any of us ever do a Robert Burns song without singing hae instead of have or nane instead of none. Maybe some of us shouldn't do Robert Burns, sung or unsung, but I still see no universal rule, other than knowing when you sound good at it or not.

Chet


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Chet W.
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 01:03 PM

And, for that matter, what about Southern (US) accents? When doint songs originating in that part of the country, and known by the performance of southern artists, doesn't almost everybody put a little of what they heard into their own performances?

Chet


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Big Mick
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 11:40 PM

And why with such a lengthy response would one want to stay anon?

Mick


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Tom on Comfort
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 01:54 AM

It seems to me that the question of adding an accent or not is part & parcel of our being involved with a (mostly) oral/aural tradition. It's sort of an inclination to sing a song the way I've learned it, & I've learned it by hearing someone else sing it.

I'm not so likely to put an accent on words I've learned from paper. And if I've heard many singers perform a song --for example, I've heard "No Man's Land" performed by singers from June Tabor to Ed Trickett to Charlie King to Priscilla Herdman--I'm less likely to use any one singer's style or accent because it's all mixed up & composted together.

While we're at it, we might talk about "accents" for the accompaniment--Is tuning your guitar to DADGAD trying to play with an Irish accent? ;-> (Of course if you've had enough of those Irish transfusions--another pint anyone--some of that may seep into your throat & finger muscles, don'cha think so?)

--Tom


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 03:47 AM

No matter what I'm singing I try to sound like John in Brisbane, not Christy Moore or Dick Gaughan or (especially) John Williamson. I reckon that they've got the market cornered with their own accents, and I'd prefer to do the same with mine. I agree with much of what Alison said about the folly of trying to double guess what a song should sound like. Maybe diction is a dirty word in some folk circles, but I want my audiences to hear every word I sing, not in an arty elocution voice. Just be yourself and IMHO audiences respect that every time.

Regards
John


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 05:00 PM

I have an old-ish songbook from the 1930s. It has some songs with cod-plantation accents - fake black. Sort of Swanee River ("ribber") but worse. My "native" accent is a nasal English public (i.e. private) school with a hint of Australian from the 3 years I lived there. Now surely it would be just anathema for me to "black up" my voice to sing those songs. Wouldn't it?

And could I not expect someone from Ireland (as distinct from Northern Ireland or Ulster according to you preference) to object if were to do "The Old alarm Clock" in a fake Irish accent?


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 04:37 AM

I was re-reading this thread this morning after a thought struck me last night. When I first got into the folk-singing thing about a year ago I had great difficulty with the 'to accent or not' problem. Now the issue seems to resolve itself naturally on a song-by-song basis. I was mulling to myself over why this should be, and I came to the conclusion that familiarity with singing has made it more akin to speech. When I speak I freely use whatever variations of pronunciation, emphasis, phrasing etc work with the context & company - this forms a huge part of the expressiveness of what I am saying at the time. I often use appalling grammar and varying pronunciations when chatting. Certainly my 'expressive' speaking is not at all the same as the more formal version I might use in an unfamiliar situation or in a formal presentation. It has a lot to do with feeling confident enough with the basic tools of the language to be able to paint it up with a bit of colour. I also am increasingly aware of how the tunes & rhythms of songs are closely tied to speech patterns (the rise & fall in tone etc) - so song becomes even closer to conversation. I'm not sure how that makes my singing from the outside (could be appalling, but never mind - I'm only a late-night-drinking singer so far)- but it feels great from the inside, which makes me happy. SO - my new rule on accents etc is : If I would say it then I can sing it.

What d'you reckon? Does that sound fair, or barking?

Kris

PS. In support of my theory : the Irish both speak and sing excessively expressively - in general more so than any other group of English-speakers. Can't be coincidence...


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: GeorgeH
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 08:38 AM

KingB: I'm with you all the way except for the PS which I think is plain wrong.

"The tradition" - and everything else within the interest of this group - is simply raw material. Take it, work it into a shape and form which makes sense to you and you feel comfortable. Perform it to express WHY you want to perform it - and you should carry the audience with you.

Just my 0.02 . . (But to my mind this cross-references the "picking too fast" session thread!!)

G.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 09:11 AM

I meant excessively in a good way. I just find the Irish people I work with are much more lyrical and free with their words and speech patterns than anyone else. P'raps I meant exceedingly (on the other hand I like a bit of excessiveness).


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Bert
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 12:45 PM

Another issue is the seriousness of the song. I tend to use accents with funny songs but not otherwise.
So I sing 'Robert Emmet' & 'Roddy McCorly' naturally But I can't seem to sing 'Begorrah' or 'Old Orange Flute' without a fake accent.

Same applies to London songs. I will sing 'Streets of London' naturally but will lapse into my native cockney (& perhaps even exaggerate it a litte) for 'British Workman's Grave'

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: domenico
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 01:10 PM

...meanwhile, back in the States...

Being one of those unfortunate children of the 80's, and growing up in Los Angeles, fueled on British Pop, I, too, have been publicly humiliated by my own "affected" faux-british accent. But after wandering into the folk music arena, I quickly learned you can't avoid it when you tackle some fiercely Scottish piece, such as "MacPhearson's Lament" or "The Bonny Shepherd Lad", or some jovial Irish tune like "Johnny Dhu", and I never received a comment that it sounded bad or faked.

I'll also toss into the fray that in the 7 years that I've been working the Rennaisance Faires around here, nothing has been more painful to listen to than the oh-so-incredibly-Ahmerrahcun renditions of "Haul away Joe" and "The Gypsy Rover". Call me a purist, but it is literally like nails on a chalkboard to listen to them plod through it. After someone finished mutilating "The Minstrel Boy", I damn near killed myself.

If you can do it well, go for it, it keeps the spirit of the song. If you can't, well, keep your day job... :)


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: j0_77
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 01:23 PM

Well I 'll be .... When I sing (in the bathtub) Waltzing Matilda I do it in my native brogue. So whats the fuss bout. Just try ro make the sounds of the words nice:)


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: GeorgeH
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 01:36 PM

KingB: I shouldn't have been so brief in disagreeing with you; I was just thinking that I've heard some Irish singers who sing with rather little expression, and some non-irish singers who are very expressive. But in normal speech yes, I guess you're right.

Bert: Good point re: humorous songs (but even there it can be over-done IMO).

Domenico: I'm still grinning at the idea of you being mocked for your false-English accent - especially since my most frequent criticism of young English "folk" singers is their using a false americanised accent (the most recent example doing so to sing Streets of London . . . )

G.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Bert
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 01:57 PM

GeorgeH, Oh yes, accents sure can be overdone. Somehow you have to draw the line and I usually cook accents 'a little rare' when I use them. Excepting of course my native 'Cockney' accent which I can have lots of fun with. It's a question of making it seem natural I think.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: domenico
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 02:27 PM

GeorgeH, You have no idea how incredibly bad an Angeleno can mangle The Psychadelic Furs' "Love My Way"... :)

Side note/observation:

I noticed that in Pop music, most Artists tend to "do it straight", so much so, that the barely intelligible Quebecois Celine Dion sings with clarity in a "Standard American English" accent. The same goes for Mr. Manchester himself, Vince Clarke of Erasure. His conversational accent is almost thicker than some of the Glaswegians I've spoken with, yet when singing, his lyrics are crisp and clear.

My theory, music tends to trancsend accents, it's just shaped air after all, but the vocabulary shapes the performance. If a Scot says "aroond", and us gringo's say "around", then "aroond" it will be when MacPherson "...played a tune, and dances aroond, below the gallows tree..."

.02 here....

Check please! :)


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 02:49 AM

GeorgeH that is the best phrase I've heard all year 'I shouldn't have been so brief.....'. Would you mind awefully if I borrowed it?

I hadn't realised about the broad speakers who sing in standard. Wow. Neither had I realised that there were a bunch of Americans with faux-brit accents - I thought it was all the other way round. That will keep me amused all day now.

I took my daughter to task the other day for singing in an exaggerated Americal drawl. She was singing me a song she had just written (she's 8 & this was the best yet) and I said 'Well that's fine, but can't you do it in your own English accent?'. She gave me one of her looks and said 'Well yes mummy I could, but it's better this way'. SO there's me who's all in favour of using whatever feels right, and I'm acting like the bleeding voice police. Motherhood often brings out the hypocrite in me!

BTW. Anyone caught themselves doing faux-Yorkshire a la Rusby/Carthy (I don't mean they are faux of course)? Count me in as guilty of this one..... (not that it is a bad thing of course).

Kris(who is having a paranoid day and keeps qualifying things in brackets (know what I mean?)).


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 03:50 AM

If I can just make a little interpolation here (they can't touch you for it!) ...
Speaking and singing use different pathways in the brain, which is why stammerers or stroke victims can often sing without ot difficulty when they can't speak easily. It also has something to do with the dfifference between our speaking and singing accents. Many people have difficulty singing in their colloquial accent rather than a "telephone voice" style.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 04:11 AM

Steve, that's interesting - is there somewhere I can find out more? Are there any web pages around on this subject? I'd like to read up on it.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Sourdough
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 06:25 AM

It is really amazing how different parts of the brain do control separate kinds of vocalizations. There was an actor at school with me, Austin Pendleton, who had a severe stammer but when onstage would speak clearly and without hesitation. I also remember meeting a stroke victim who could not talk but she could sing nursery rhymes from her childhood.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: GeorgeH
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 06:41 AM

domenico: side note on your side note . . one significant factor in my no longer rating Oyster band as highly as I did was John Jones' ceasing to sing in his own "natural" voice (and as side note on that: a problem I have is that every time I hear him sing in his "new" voice it reminds me of the "workover" Margaret Thatcher had on her voice, and if there's one person I prefer not to be reminded of . . (trouble is, Tony Blair reminds me of the same ignoble woman))

KingB: I'm flattered . . (that phrase) . . your're welcome (to borrow) . . no idea (what you mean (about qualifying things in brackets)). And I loved your tale about your daughter's singing - we had exactly the same "discussions" with ours, from about that age until she was about 12 . . And she still regresses occasionally (she's now 18). But persevere . . It's only "better this way" because that's her "received expectation" from "pop" . . If she's going to express herself through song she needs to find a voice which is natural to her. IMO.

Steve P (and subsequent posters). Fascinating! And something which had not impinged on me despite encountering a fair bit of evidence for it. Although I don't think it contradicts the view that you have to find a singing voice which feels natural and comfortable to you. So many thanks for that.

G.


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 07:36 AM

Kris, I don't know where you can find out more. I was told by my little brother, who's a nurse with psychiatric training (and plays the saxophone). The Open University (www.open.ac.uk) does a course called "Biology, brain and behaviour", but you'd probably have to join up to get at the contents! You may find something on their website though. If anyone does find out more, please share it with us. How can I say "the proper study of mankind is man" in a non-sexist way?

Steve


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: j0_77
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 09:10 AM

IM....B...A....C..K OUUU hheheeehooo. Really folks I think this a non starter and here is why. Singing is music - kinda repeating meself here huh, means that the SOUND of the words is more important that the accent - put it this away *Sing in a musical 'axent'* (Can't quit teaching grrr)


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Roger the zimmer
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 10:33 AM

There's clearly a fine line to be drawn here. If a song is in dialect, then singing it in a "received pronounciation" style sounds strange to me but a caricature accent (we all remember that lovable Cockney, Dick Van Dyke!) is as bad. Just as I lapse into my native Brummie when telling an Aynock and Ali story or slight brogue when telling my grandfather's Pat & Mike stories,and S or N Wales accents when teling tales from my sojourns in the Principality, I "sing" blues or '50s R 'n'R in Mid-Atlantic, sounding, I suspect, more Birmingham, England than Birmingham, Alabama, but would sound worse putting on an exaggerated "deep south" accent, or trying to sound like a 30s BBC wireless announcer. As long as we avoid sounding as if we are taking the piss out of the original accent, no one should be offended.
The way I sing, I offend all music lovers any way!
Roger [more Croakin' Bullfrog ("I got the greens!") than Howlin'Wolf]


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Cara
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 11:34 AM

Interesting discussion. As someone who has no accent at all (by American standards) since I'm from the middle part of the country where they send newscasters to learn to speak neutrally, I think it's funny to see people in the U.K. discussing other people in the U.K. intentionally picking up other U.K. accents. I'd never know the difference, myself. I am getting pretty good at telling what county Irish people are from by listening to them talk. I find the whole thing fascinating, the assumptions people make (presumably) about others based on features (such as accent) that are indistinguishable to much of the rest of the world.

As far as singing, I think that I'm more of a mimic when I'm first learning a song, and therefore sing it like the person I learned it from until I've sung it many, many times on my own (in the shower of course). Working in an "Irish" pub with entertainment every night, I would get so used to singing along with one singer's version of a song that when a new act came along, it was like a different song, even if the two groups had both played there a thousand times. By now I've heard so many of the people who do Irish around here that I'm all mixed up (although to be fair "mixed up" can fairly accurately describe my natural state as well).


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 12:33 PM

Oops! Slight boo-boo with my URL there ... try http://www.open.ac.uk, and if that doesn't work, type it in!


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Subject: RE: Irish accent right or wrong?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 12:34 PM

Oh dear, oh dear, oh lor ... try www.open.ac.uk, and then type it in!


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