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curling lip & smirking

MGM·Lion 03 Sep 09 - 10:06 PM
Amos 03 Sep 09 - 10:39 PM
Janie 03 Sep 09 - 10:44 PM
Lighter 03 Sep 09 - 10:48 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Sep 09 - 05:53 AM
Marje 04 Sep 09 - 06:14 AM
Banjiman 04 Sep 09 - 06:20 AM
The Sandman 04 Sep 09 - 06:47 AM
GUEST 04 Sep 09 - 06:52 AM
Jeri 04 Sep 09 - 07:18 AM
Brian Peters 04 Sep 09 - 07:28 AM
GUEST,leeneia 04 Sep 09 - 10:25 AM
MGM·Lion 05 Sep 09 - 10:00 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 05 Sep 09 - 10:35 AM
VirginiaTam 05 Sep 09 - 11:52 AM
Lighter 05 Sep 09 - 11:55 AM
SharonA 05 Sep 09 - 11:58 AM
Azizi 05 Sep 09 - 12:34 PM
wysiwyg 05 Sep 09 - 12:59 PM
Smokey. 05 Sep 09 - 01:23 PM
VirginiaTam 05 Sep 09 - 01:51 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Sep 09 - 02:39 PM
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Subject: curling lip & smirking
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 10:06 PM

In an interview I once did for Folk Review with Martin Carthy & Norma Waterson [long long ago, before there was Eliza!], Norma said of a young girl singer then making a name on the English Scene, "The trouble is, when she gets to an ironic or disobliging bit in a song, she curls her lip. I think one should just sing the words and leave it to the song to curl its lip".

Similarly, I have never enjoyed the City Waites, mentioned on a recent thread (& I have told Lucie this & have said so in many reviews & am not speaking behind anyone's back), because they sing 'naughty' songs in such a naughty, o-so-roguish, smirking tone: I think it far more effective just to sing the words and 'let the song do the smirking', as Norma might have said.

What do others think?

Michael


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: Amos
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 10:39 PM

It is interesting--you could similarly argue one should let the sea-songs do their own bellowing. That might be taking the principle too far, I suppose, but I was quite surprised the first time I heard the Pyrates Rpyale sing Rolling Down to Old Maui, a hearty sailor's song, in their beautiful but very feminine voices; what was surprising was how effective and evocative it was despite the unusual timbres. My opinion is that dramatizing a song is an art easily over-done and can be a distraction from the art of the song itself, as you imply. But I have never faulted throwing a good deal of energy into a song, in the delivery.


A


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: Janie
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 10:44 PM

I'm no critic or expert, and have no idea who the City Waites are, but it seems to me that it is up to the artist or group to present in the manner they desire, and for the spectator to either like it or not. If the performer or group is open to, or otherwise values the feedback from the quarter from which a critique is received, they may decide to change something in the way they present or perform. If not, they won't.

Just my 2 cents worth, and not sure it is worth 2 cents.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 10:48 PM

I agree about the lip curling.

The "naughty" style of the City Waites is fine with me, perfectionist though I am, because the songs they sing are mostly of the sophisticated, "artsy" Tom Durfey kind that I can easily imagine being hammed up on stage and on street corners in 1700.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 05:53 AM

"...it is up to the artist or group to present in the manner they desire, and for the spectator to either like it or not. "

Precisely. Or not. I don't think anyone was suggesting that performers shouldn't be free to screw up songs by over-acting if they wish to.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: Marje
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 06:14 AM

Of course performers should be free to interpret a song as they wish, but that doesn't prevent their audience from having preferences.

I think I know what Norma was getting at: it's possible to spoil a traditional song by overdoing the interpretation of it, and sentimentalising it. Norma herself is enormously expressive in the way she sings, but that's not the same thing. It's difficult to put your finger on what the difference is, but I know it when I see it. I think maybe the songs themselves carry so much of the feeling that to add too much in the way of acting just gets in the way. The singer needs to be totally engaged with the song, but this doesn't need to be demonstrated in an over-enthusiastic way. It depends partly on the singer's own style and personality, too - look at Norma and Martin for a very contrasting pair of singers.

It's a bit different when we move into the music-hall repertoire, or some comic songs, but many of the straight traditional songs and ballads just don't benefit from too much embellishment by the singer.

Marje


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: Banjiman
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 06:20 AM

Personally I like to see a bit of animation and passion.

Is the singer merely a narrator or should they get into the charcters?


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 06:47 AM

the curlin lip is ok,if the singer still manages to get the curlin lip into the singing.
I find the singer in question a very variable singer, almost mercurial,at her best capable of being sensational.
still who am I to criticise,according to one mudcat member,I am a terrible singer and a naff concertina player,
for the record,I think anyone who puts up remarks like that on a blog needs to go off and take up a hobby like train spotting,I know the persons identity too.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 06:52 AM

Personal choices.

The visuals are as much a part of the act. They are presentation. They telegraph the joke. Some people need that. Not folkies of course, we is intelligent.

If I see them I will view them with this mindset. Until then, personal choice.
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name [in the 'from' box] when you post, or your messages risk being deleted.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: Jeri
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 07:18 AM

Performers should perform however they want and people will either like them or be turned off.

If it's not down to sheer silliness (which I can respect), think over-emoting comes from a performer's belief that most people are too stupid to notice the sneer inherent in a song, and so it's a bit of an insult. Granted a lot of people WILL miss subtleties and even obviousities, but I really respect performers who sing for those who actually pay attention and 'get it'.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 07:28 AM

Bellamy versus Carthy (M)

MacColl versus Lloyd

Sam Larner versus Harry Cox

The old dogma was that traditional singers sang deadpan, so that was the correct way to do it. Listening to a few traditional singers (or recordings of them) soon put that idea to bed. There is no 'correct' way, aside from respect for the song. We all have our opinions, and I'm sure too much emoting would get on my nerves in certain situations, but then again I loved Peter Bellamy's singing and no-one curled a lip like that man.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 10:25 AM

This is a 'chicken-and-egg' debate which can never be answered.

If you sing, you will discover that changing your expression will change the tone of your voice. So do we:

a. sing lyrics and make an expression to match, or do we

b. express emotion with the face and let the voice follow suit?

The answer is that they go together and also that there will be variation among individuals.

For those who are bothered by facial expressions, my advice is to stop staring at the performer, look at something else, and listen to the music. Sound is what's it's all about, anyhow.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 10:00 AM

Many thanks for these reactions and responses. I particularly take Lighter's point about City Waites relationship with the D'Urfey tradition; but must regret I still find their resolute roguishness rather rebarbative!


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 10:35 AM

Curling, Lip and Smirking are the most disreputable bunch of ambulance-chasing lawyers on the planet! They're even worse than Dewey, Cheatum and Howe! If you must have legal representation, hire Licken, Sticken and Dicken. It'd hard to go wrong with them.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 11:52 AM

I think it important that the ancient songs should be performed as near as possible to how they would have been originally. Exaggerated vocal and facial expressions, cutting capers were part of the show back in the day and if a group is trying to render faithfully to tradition, more power to them.

For the record, I love City Waites.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 11:55 AM

Yeah, it's all a matter of taste, but informed taste has a bit more going for it.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: SharonA
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 11:58 AM

If one sings "properly" (i.e. with erect posture, breath control, diction... all that stuff that voice teachers teach), then one's facial expression can become exaggerated in a way that has nothing to do with the subject of the song, and it can be distracting to the viewer. In the folk club I attend, there's a singer who has a lovely voice but is almost comical to watch because of her "classical" style. Sometimes she looks downright constipated.

It's ironic that, in an opera, one is required to act out the story of the song and yet, in order to project the voice, one's face must take on poses and expressions that may not be in keeping with the storyline. The singer must compensate for this in other ways (such as makeup, gestures, and expressive vocal inflections). IMO the greatest opera singers are the ones who can both sing well and act well while singing.

Same goes for folk singers IMO. Folk songs tell a story in one way or another, so a good folk singer must employ the techniques used by good storytellers -- not just facial expression but also vocal inflection and body movement. In addition, instrumentation provides a means of expression that carries the story along. A good folk singer should provide more than just accompaniment; he/she should make the instrument sing the song, in effect, through variations in volume, pitch, playing technique and so forth.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: Azizi
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 12:34 PM

I think it important that the ancient songs should be performed as near as possible to how they would have been originally.
-VirginiaTam

And there, in a nut shell, is the difference between African/African Diaspora singing and European and European Diaspora singing.

I know I'm generalizing, but for the most part, African/African Diaspora vocalists place a high value on interpreting a song, thereby making that song their own. In hip hip languaging, this is called "putting your flava into the mix".

But, that said, I understand that there's one school of thought in modern jazz (among Black musicians as well as non-Black musicians)a as to whether jazz artists should strictly play music that has already been composed or whether they should interprete it their way and (as we used to say "jazz it up"), though maybe "jazz it up" means play it faster.

The concept of the "remix" in hip-hop" and other music is all about having another version of the "original" song...
   
[I understand that my comment has very little to do with the thread's topic about vocalists making "exaggerated vocal and facial expressions". But I wanted to share these thoughts anyway.]


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: wysiwyg
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 12:59 PM

Any excuse to knock a performer will do if one is looking for it.

~S~


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: Smokey.
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 01:23 PM

It never did Elvis any harm. I think people should perform how they like - let those who are without sin, etc.

Besides, they've banned smirking in pubs.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 01:51 PM

And opera singers! When my daughter Andie studied vocal performance at Uni, there was time dedicated to facial expression while performing.

It was at least as frustrating to her as trying to make the glottal ich sound when she was singing German. That near drove me crazy. The stamping foot high pitched wailing conniption fit we all suffered when she messed up that little syllable.


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Subject: RE: curling lip & smirking
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 02:39 PM

There's a difference of emphasis between storytelling and acting. The two skills overlap, but a storyteller is a narrator, as well as presenting the characters.

Traditional songs seem to be more about telling a story. With more modern songs it may well be that it's more a matter of acting a part. And quite often listeners can get confused when they take it that the singer is representing themselves, rather than a character.


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