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Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?

GUEST,CS 26 Mar 10 - 07:09 PM
Jack Campin 26 Mar 10 - 07:14 PM
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GUEST, Richard Bridge on the other browser 27 Mar 10 - 04:40 AM
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Subject: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 07:09 PM

Just curious really, how did this breathy folkie default in female vocals come to pass? Can we blame it all on Vashti Bunyion?


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 07:14 PM

I'd be more inclined to blame Nick Drake.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Padre
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 07:23 PM

Blossom Dearie


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Steve Hunt
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 07:30 PM

Vashti Bunyan has always consistently maintained that she isn't a folk singer, so I don't think that you should be blaming her for anything...


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 07:37 PM

Since the singing took itself from shared spaces and 'unassisted' vocals into larger areas with amplification!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 08:06 PM

It's called head voice and I think it was first popularised in the revival by S****** C******.
Always sounds milk-and-watery to me but I suppose it's ok if it is mastered well enough to tackle the problems it brings with it.
1 It takes twice as much breath to produce than it does for the chest voice, so it can be difficult to sing long lines and the singer has often to take a breath in the midddle, therby losing the sense of the narrative. I heard a recording of somebody singing Barbara Allen recently - quite slowly - and having to take a breath after every four words.
2 Difficult to produce in the lower range so a singer can't maintain it as she goes down and has to shift from head to chest voice, producing an etirely different tone - often referred to as 'the gear change'.
I am often disappointed when I hear a singer introduce a song in her beautiful, rich, natural voice, then start to sing as if she's been intercepted on her way to haunt houses.
Men can't produce consistent head voice without going into falsetto.
We discussed the reason for this once in a workshop, and one of our members, a very humourous Canadian man, leaned back in his chair, stared reflectivly at the ceiling and then drawled, "Maybe it's the lack of a cluster" - no idea what he meant or if he was right.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 11:42 PM

We already did this but I'm too lazy to find the thread.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 03:47 AM

"Since the singing took itself from shared spaces and 'unassisted' vocals into larger areas with amplification!"

Yes, that makes sense.

Of course there's nothing wrong with anyone singing in any they want to. And as for 'blaming' I was only being tongue in cheek. Just wondered how that particular ultra feminine breathy vocal style became associated to folk music and why.

I'll try and find the other thread.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: stallion
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 04:38 AM

there are plenty of big girls blouses in the folk wor....... oh breathy....sorry ignore me can't read properly


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST, Richard Bridge on the other browser
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 04:40 AM

The near ubiquity (in female singers of folk and the music recently called folk) of the wifty-wafty voice can't wholly be blamed on amplification. Obviously it is enabled by amplification, but the total ubiquity of amplification in rock music has still left quite a lot of female rock "belters".

Indeed I would think it was quite a lot later than the revival. Yes, the good dame blamed above was a bit restrained, and likewise the puzzlingly revered Anne Briggs but right through to the end of the folk-rock scene there were numbers of strong female singers, whereas now the nuber must be down to the Waterson-Carthies, Maddy Prior and June Tabor: that's about it AFAIK.

As for "blame" - yes, I think that's a fair term to use. To get back onto my hobby horse I see the baby-voice as consistent with the societal image of the woman as child and potential victim, consistently with depilation and the modern equivalents of foot-binding and hobbling.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 04:44 AM

I agree with Richard entirely. As soon as the voice kicks in I stop listening.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 04:54 AM

I have heard lots of young (?), 20 - 30 ish, people sing at a folk club. They don't seem to project their voice much and I wondered if it had anything to do with 'Open Mike' Nights where their is no need to project?

As a result it is had to haer what they sing.

L in C


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Will Fly
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 05:22 AM

Can't bear wifty-wafty voices. Here's the sort of stuff I like:

Sue Gates: A Man You Won't Meet Every Day

Sue is one of the regulars at a monthly singaround I attend. She has a lovely, rich voice. No wift-waft there.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: treewind
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 05:55 AM

If it's only amplification and "open mic" nights to blame, why is this problem apparently restricted to females?
My money's on the "influential role models" theory.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 05:59 AM

I blame their fathers.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 06:10 AM

I blame their fathers.

Something in that. Siobhan Miller (Brian Miller's daughter, now in her 20s) may have no discernible scintilla of originality, but nobody could say she sounds peely-wally.

Peely-walliness in women singers seems a lot less prevalent in Scotland. Eddi Reader may have absolutely nothing else going for her, but she does sing her crappy arrangements with guts.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: BusyBee Paul
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 06:18 AM

You would have been talking about me if I'd struggled to folk club last night with this bronchitis!

Deirdre

(Well - weaky & breathy anyway - I'm not often described as girlie!)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST, RBotob
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 06:18 AM

Never heard "peely-wally" before. Nice!

Even now it is not universal. Leslie from Capella delivers with power, the female half of KerryandMandy from Deal is very forceful, Virginia Tam can be heard for about half a mile, Crow Sister delivers with power and judgment, and my own daughter can break windows at a distance when doing that sort of song - but since none of the above are signed, is it the fault of record companies and promoters - who want "girl singers"?


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:04 AM

"To get back onto my hobby horse I see the baby-voice as consistent with the societal image of the woman as child and potential victim,"

Indeed, something similar crossed my mind. Though as you say we don't tend to see this stereotype in other genres such as rock. No doubt someone has done a study of the various images of woman to be found presented in modern music.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: gnomad
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:08 AM

What part have recording engineers and record promoters played in this? For some time I have felt that there is a perception that this is the sound the public wants, so that is what is on the discs. Up and coming performers see what is being promoted and follow suit.

This infantilisation seems a pretty blatant attempt to manipulate the listener, presumably it works for some or they would have given it up by now. I find it a turn-off.

I don't hear enough non-folky music to know whether other genres have been infected with this fashion, if they have then that would lend weight to RB's societal image theory. I had assumed it was something restricted to folk (what that, ha!) but I don't know.

I just wish they wouldn't do it.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:10 AM

Around about this point in most threads things turn persoanal and often get nasty.

I don't think its just women singers - loads of blokes don't project their voices either it just comes out in a lower muttered register. I don't suppose it's just 'Open Mike-itous' few things ever have one cause.

Best wishes

L in C


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:13 AM

It's called head voice and I think it was first popularised in the revival by S****** C******

Excuse my ignorance, but who is S****** C****** ?


DC


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:25 AM

I suspect sound engineers do a lot to perpetuate this. I'm thinking of one world-famous country and western singer who does NOT come across through the mike as in any way weak or pathetic. She came into Sandy Bells once on a visit to Scotland, and surprised everybody by how softly she sang (not feeble and breathy, just quiet). You'd never guess. In that instance the sound engineers wanted a different stereotype, so they mixed her voice to get it.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Acorn4
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:29 AM

Maybe the Enya "Celtic chasm reverb" has been a factor.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:30 AM

Could be Shi**** Co*****

L in C


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:42 AM

If you want to get away from breathy have a listen to Julie Fowlis ..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1I2nCAaodI&feature=related


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:49 AM

"Around about this point in most threads things turn persoanal and often get nasty."

Agreed, and that wasn't my intent at all in 'blaming' Vashti - which as said, was more tongue in cheek than anything. I definitely don't think we need to start down the route of personally directed bitching at particular performers (I saw some pretty unpleasant and personal slagging writ elsewhere when looking up other threads to do with female singers). Though equally there's nothing wrong IMO, in a bit of honest criticism of the music itself. I wonder why Mudcat gets so weirdly schizo about such stuff!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:51 AM

I certainly don't think of Shi**** Co***** as weak and breathy! I think of her more as Maggie Holland described her - like a mother singing in her kitchen (or words to that effect)!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:54 AM

"Could be Shi**** Co*****"
Getting warm Les - any advance on 'Shi**** Co*****'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:57 AM

I would have said K*** R**** rather than S.C.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:57 AM

ShCo? No, I don't either. A charmingly honest natural voice. She doesn't fit my image of fey vulnerable girly folk singer.

GuyW: Thanks for Julie Fowlis, that was super.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: EnglishFolkfan
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 08:04 AM

Who are these female singers, would you be prepared to name them Guest CS?

Without knowing exactly whom everyone is referring to I would say that having sat in the presence of the following singers performing acoustically I wouldn't describe any of them in *that* way:

Bella Hardy
Hannah James
Jackie Oates
Karen Polwart
Emily Smith
Julie Fowlis
Ruth Notman
Lucy Ward


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 08:50 AM

I can think of a few EFF, but such discussions in other threads get a bit ugly when things get personal. As you point out however there is clearly a generation of robust female singers working the circuit today & performing more traditional material too, which run counter to the media friendly fey girlish voice & image. So on consideration, it's evidently much less of a default than I and others here may imagine it to be.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 09:09 AM

perhaps they should work on bretah control and diaphragm control,and try sing ing exercises toextend the range
the voice is a musical instrument and like all musical instruments needs to be used correctly not abused,it needs to be worked on


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 09:11 AM

I figured Judy Collins might have been one of the earliest offenders, so I did a YouTube search for her. And got a sponsored link from orabrush.com, "Does Your Breath Stink?" - now there's something you don't often see mentioned as a problem for singers.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 09:14 AM

Count me as one who can't stand breathy little girl voices in folk music - especially if it's a ballad and they're lisping and mincing through the words of a powerful, compelling story. I guess it's a fashion that some like and some don't. Obviously as some of these singers are very successful, they have their followers. Give me a voice like Niamh Parsons any day. For folk music I much prefer a head voice to a chest voice - although I do like Joan Baez. But although she sings with a head voice, I wouldn't describe her as breathy or little girly.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 09:19 AM

Loreena McKennitt! Not very popular with down to earth folkies but she shifts millions of cds. I can't stand her delivery but a fellow folkie friend of mine thinks she's the bees knees.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 09:28 AM

'"Does Your Breath Stink?" - now there's something you don't often see mentioned as a problem for singers.'

Depends on how much they've been hammering the pints and sausage rolls!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 09:35 AM

One of the most frustrating experiences t=is to find a good singer with a beautiful natural tone, who still manages to make a hames of the songs.
It's not just the voice, but how it is used.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: mikesamwild
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 09:39 AM

We went to hear Fay Hield a few weeks ago , 'nice to hear some bollix again' my missus said.

We've been fed up with 'the curse of the child-woman' for quite some time.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST, RBotob
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 10:14 AM

A few names I will need to listen to here - but at least three of those above stated to be not "girly" in delivery alas do sound that way to me (although some of their material is excellent)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: EnglishFolkfan
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 10:53 AM

Hi Guest RBotob

The fact that some of the females in my list are very young may account for what you call a 'girly' tone to their voice, better described as 'fresh young' imho, but I thought this thread was about 'breathy girly' which is a different sound and I don't think any of them come across as that when singing live.

Hope you do enjoy listening to their output & I think you will find there is a vocal maturity developing with some of them. In Hannah's case she can get a tiny breathless when live but that is only when she's done a fantastic step dancing piece in the middle of the song ..... catch her as part of Kerfuffle on Youtube to see what I mean.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 11:03 AM

Gina le faux,Now there is a girl that doesnt sing win a breathy fay way.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Chris Green
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 11:38 AM

I misread the above post to read 'fay wray'. Now THERE was a gal with a hell of a voice!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 11:43 AM

Absolutely, but do you know why ?

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Arkie
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 12:01 PM

It certainly is not limited to girl singers and is no more appealing for males than for gals. It might be ok if it fits the song, but song after song gets a little stale. I went to a songwriter showcase at Folk Alliance several years back. As far as I was concerned it was a who's who of male songwriters. All folk I had heard on recordings. Really looking forward to the music. Then one after the other they breathed their way through their sets. Finally, we got to David Olney (had he not been on the program I would have walked out) and he let it fly. That made the hour worthwhile, but because I have such admiration for those who preceded him I was disappointed. So when a person can actually sing, why the heavy breathing?


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 01:17 PM

"I misread the above post to read 'fay wray'. Now THERE was a gal with a hell of a voice!"

"Absolutely, but do you know why ?

Dave H"

Is it 'cos she didn't monkey about? :)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Chris Green
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 01:18 PM

Or try and ape her contemporaries?


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: matt milton
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 01:19 PM

To cite Shirley Collins here strikes me as plainly and objectively wrong. Yes, she might have used a 'head voice' quite a lot, but I'd say the timbre of her voice leant towards that kind of sound anyway: meaning that I can't hear any kind of disjunction between her lower register and her upper.

Plus her 'head voice' was still relatively powerful - much more so than plenty of contemporary female folk singers.

Both her and Anne Briggs had voices that weren't nasal, sure, but they certainly weren't "baby doll" voices - far from it. For me, they were just straightforward, no-nonsense. Neither Shirley Collins nor Anne Briggs sounded breathy or ethereal or gossamer-thin.

I'd say they were more like the female equivalent of a Paddy Tunney or Len Graham or, stateside, Horton Barker or Frank Proffitt: not foghorn-like or blasting it out, just a bit more conversational.

Vashti Bunyan on the other hand often sounded like someone who'd recently lost her voice. I quite like her early 60s pop stuff, but her folk-ish stuff is just too twee for me.

The female singer I hear the most in today's singers, well todays 'alternative' acoustic singers anyway, is Karen Dalton. Whenever I hear Alela Diane or Joanna Newsom or Maree Sioux I hear a lot of Karen Dalton in there.

I'm with the original poster in that I don't really like fey, wimpy, little girl lost type voices. But equally I don't like strident voices. I can't really say I enjoy listening to Margaret Barry or Peter Bellamy, for instance.

All of these things are styles and affectations; I don't think you can say any are more "natural" than others.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 01:29 PM

I'm with the original poster in that I don't really like fey, wimpy, little girl lost type voices. But equally I don't like strident voices. I can't really say I enjoy listening to Margaret Barry or Peter Bellamy, for instance
that is your prerogative,however if one can try and judge singing objectively,[by that i meantaking out of the equation emotional like or dislike to a voice],and judging singing on interpretation,most singers of traditional songs [myself included] rate Peter Bellamys song interpretation highly.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 01:41 PM

Matt,
Can I explain my attitude Shirley Collins' voice; my reference was to her introducing it to the revival.
Personally, her singing is not to my taste because she always uses it, producing a light, airy, rather samey tone (which, I suppose can be said of many singers, whatever tone they use). She certainly has full control of it - no gear change that I can remember and not a lot of breath problems - just limiting.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 01:50 PM

"Both her and Anne Briggs had voices that weren't nasal, sure, but they certainly weren't "baby doll" voices - far from it. For me, they were just straightforward, no-nonsense. Neither Shirley Collins nor Anne Briggs sounded breathy or ethereal or gossamer-thin."

Indeed!

As regards younger folk performers not projecting, I've had the same experience. I've met/seen so many younger performers who are musically excellent, but not so many that I would regard as vocally strong, and fewer still that can actually "belt it out" when required. Or is it that singing requires more time/experience to develop than instrumental dexterity? Or decades of singing in smoky rooms and a few thousand pints of beer? Or is it just the influence of "near-folk" artists on younger performers?


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST, Richard Bridge on the other browser
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 03:25 PM

Come on Kevin - you don't mean that of all of them. Or if you do I will get you to stand next to either of my daughters when they are going for it (OK, one is 27 and the older now 42) without earplugs!

It's for some reason mainly the signed ones!

Briggs I think did over-fey it a bit - but she had shedloads more vocal presence than many young female singers today. The eminent dame (SC) I think had probably been bullied by classical voice teachers when younger, and had a fine voice and control, but indeed too much control. Curiously Tabor for me underlines the tension by being so controlled and every so often the beast peeks out to electric effect. Compare (if you know them) Galliard. Dave Reay is probably the most skilled all-round guitarist in Kent and Faye has unflawed pitch and control - but the time I liked her singing the best was one night at Knockholt in a big circle and the smoke from the fire (which she hates, she has asthma issues) and they did a big blues belter - might have been a Bessie Smith song - and she grabbed my ears like never before.

So (you wondered about my point, no?) the problem is not universal and not wholly new - but it seems to be getting worse and more prevalent.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 03:57 PM

Infantilization is not limited to women. Look at men's "fashion" nowadays: the skin-head clean-shaven look, baggy clothes and long shorts that make grown men look like little babies playing dress-up in their fathers' clothes. Even business drag is for men a practice in emasculation, hiding every facet of post-pubescent development, including the Adam's apple, and conferring on them all a monotonous sameness.

As far as women singing, one of the fastest turn-offs for me is the affected breathy voice. I'm sure there's a special ring of hell where sinners are subjected to endless renditions by Enya, Loreena and Ashley Simpson.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 04:01 PM

I have not had time to read all comments here, but; those Irish ones that sound like they are recording in a cathedral and hbave not reached puberty yet by their 40s.....there were years and years you could not listen to a female Irish singer at least at amazone or somewhere without hearing this. ANYA ENYA WHatever her nhame is....if that is their natural voice, fine, but if they have decided to artificially prolong their early teen years, not fine. mg


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 05:45 PM

The style comes from American and Brit pop music. It's an attempt to use recording of these voices to sound sexy and thus sell more records. Astrid Giberto popularized the style in
the American market of bossa novas. The breathy sound simulates sexual activity particularly when an occasional growl is introduced.

The microphone changed singing styles. In the folk field, it's an attempt to pop-folk the weasel. The singer/songwriters find this a vehicle for their introverted lyrics which in the most cases are pretty bland and not terribly emotionally revealing or satisfying.

The best singers can navigate between the chest and head tones seamlessly. They also incorporate some chest in the head and head in the chest for a tonal balance.

Eartha Kitt capitalized on this breathy sexy sound. Marilyn Monroe also though whether that can be called singing is debatable. (Sorry to be cruel, here).

Simply put, this singing style comes from an attempt to sell sex in the pop field and spills over into the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Smokey.
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 06:04 PM

I call it the asthmatic munchkin syndrome - I'm sick of hearing munchkinosity in general. It gives the subjective illusion of accelerating the aging process.

Perfectly summed up, Stringsinger.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 06:06 PM

I just won't sit still for that voice. Time for a cup of tea or a bathroom break.

A few years ago one woman who joined our weekly music group did a version of the breathy voice. Eventually we got it across to her that she should try a lower pitch. Lo and behold, it worked - perhaps also because no one else in the group affected such an aberration - we like her voice now. I especially like her low harmonies.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Edthefolkie
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 08:49 PM

I thought Shirley Collins had managed to see off patronising and omniscient criticism (e.g. from a certain pseudo-Scots Salfordian and his acolytes) in the 1960s but I see it's still going on.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Joybell
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 09:24 PM

Oh! I love this thread. Makes me feel less alone. I'm with Jim and others -- it's the way the voice is used that makes that horrible breathy, sensitive, endless-song singing style.
I have a voice that hasn't changed since childhood -- soprano and young-sounding at 65. It's strong and out-there though and I never, never do breathy. If a song affects me while I'm singing I might cry but I don't become a little girl.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 10:40 PM

"Come on Kevin - you don't mean that of all of them."

Indeed, I don't Richard. That's why I didn't say "all of them"! :)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 10:50 PM

"Men can't produce consistent head voice without going into falsetto."

Well... I just can't 'do' falsetto... but I can sing higher than many females without strain in a clear voice - I can feel when falsetto kicks in and it just dies on me.... I can also sing very low bass too - but both really consistently only after 'warm up' - usually alternating both voices - and of course if I haven't sung for a couple of weeks, it takes even longer to 'warm up'.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Callitfolk
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 10:55 PM

Don't throw stuff at me...but, Kate Rusby was the first female singer, that I thought, had everything going for her, except her whispy voice, recorded very close mic'd. I've come to love her music, though, and perhaps her voice has deepened somewhat in the last ten years. On my folk music blog, I get daily submits from singers with weak voices. Arrangements and lyrics are fine, but I can't get past the "head" or "nasal" voice. Male or female, I need strong vocals that compel me to listen. Storytelling almost requires a strong voice. I cover folk songs from all over, but for vocal power, go to the Italian folk-singers:

Eight Italian 1-Minute Wonders


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 04:18 AM

"I thought, had everything going for her, except her whispy voice, recorded very close mic'd."

You've done it now Callitfolk! I can smell the rotten eggs and cabbages piling up from here..

Otherwise, as a vocal style, I agree with Matt it's not necessarily any more or less affected than any other. But with particular reference to the close mic thing compared to more traditional unaccompanied folk singing, it's certainly interesting how singing without amplification (other than naturally occurring acoustics) means it's more or less impossible to sing in such a fashion at all. The only singing I do is unamplified, so when recording recently it suddenly dawned on me that I didn't actually have to project like I would normally, and that approaching the songs in a more 'intimate' manner was therefore an alternative option provided by using a mic.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 05:35 AM

I am surprised no one has mentioned Eileen Pratt as a strong singer who moves quite seamlessly from lows to highs. Great because even though you can tell it's her singing on every song, you don't get that "samey" feeling.

I really don't have it in for the breathy singers. Used to be one and can still do it if I try. Just not that interested in it any more. Having said that, I can't listen to more than a couple of songs at a time by the breathy singer.

I rather like Anne Briggs. There is colour to her presentation. She packs in a lot of notes to a phrase and I find that irresistible. Guest CS does the same but with much fuller richer tone.

RB's daughter (the noisy one) for one so young is a full on roar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxxy-jCvrUo

For me, the most interesting natural voice currently in the published circuit, June Tabor wins hands down. I can listen to her all day and never get bored.

I think it quite possible that lack of dynamics in younger singers is more attributable to the fact that they have amplification and due to recording technicalities. May also be attributable to vocal training which may teach to protect the voice more than project it. How many of the youngsters receive(d) vocal coaching? Also would like to know what that professional coaching is comprised of.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: mikesamwild
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 07:00 AM

I wouldn't call JT 'natural' it's quite affected 'folky' nasal and a bit like she has a cold all the time. But i like it!!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Busy Lizzie
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 08:24 AM

Can I throw this into the mix? Ok I will - I am always interested to read about 'women's voice' as I have only recently started to sing in my own right and with a band. (I am only 50!) and friends have encouraged me to sing.....

For what it's worth, I think finding the right song for your voice to justice to and vice versa is the thing! I am not a songwriter but with my musicians we try and test many songs before finding the ones that 'sound good'

Not making any serious points here, but enjoy this;


my youtube debut - watch it, it's not what you think! and yes I do both sets of vocals which we recorded in two takes (of course!) had much fun making the video and doing the singing!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 08:37 AM

Thanks for that Lizzie, much fun! Love some of those charming old jazz tunes. I'm something of a sucker for Hoagy too.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 08:40 AM

By which I mean I know that's not by Hoagy - but his stuff has a similar vibe!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 08:49 AM

I have particularly noticed this trend among young female singers after Kate Rusby made a name for herself.

It isn't universal by any means but I have noticed the style being used in recordings by singers who have naturally stronger voices.

It is far less common among more mature singers.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Busy Lizzie
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 11:04 AM

Ah I'll be a more 'mature' singer then?!!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 11:23 AM

I don't think it can all be put down to microphones. I recall an interview with Martin Carthy talking about Maddie Prior's singing. At that time she was one of the very few folk singers who sang mostly with a mic, and MC explained how she produced a very focussed sound directed at the mic, rather than the wider projection needed to fill a folk club unamplified. "Hard as a bloody diamond" her called her sound, and I read it as a compliment.

I think it's a fashion. I too think it's become more noticeable since Kate Rusby - lovely voice, but I can't listen to more than a couple of songs at a time without switching off. However she's been very successful and is probably a role model (consciously or unconsciously) for a lot of other female singers, whereas previous generations' role models were stronger-voiced singers - Prior and June Tabor have been frequently mentioned, but I'd also add Chris Coe and Frankie Armstrong. Of course, there was Shirley Collins too, but she is one of the few singers who can handle that voice well.

I think that back then a lot of female singers tried both voices and discovered that their chest voice was more powerful and more expressive. That was certainly the experience of a friend of mine. Now it appears that they don't experiment with this. Which is a shame, because in most cases the head voice is flat and unexpressive - and judging from other replies it seems I'm not the only one to think this.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Andrew Lancs
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 11:39 AM

Quite a bit of it must be down to the fact that hardly anyone in Britain goes to church any more. Older singers did, as a matter of course, and would have had to push their range and projection there a bit - singing lustily and with good courage, etc. It's not a question of religion but of the once commonplace activity of singing communally with volume and challenges of pitch and style, not of one's own choosing, over many years. People were schooled to sing by social convention. That's probably why most blokes on the folk scene, now, have such a dreary narrow range, too. It sounds good in their own head where there ears are close to their own resonators but, without any projection skills to give it umph (or interest) for anyone else.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Bernard
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 11:45 AM

'Head voice' is, I believe, the wrong terminology for what we're hearing - as a boy soprano in the early 1960s, I was trained to use my head voice, which is a very powerful, clear tone requiring very little breath to produce. I can still do it, albeit falsetto, to this day.

These girls are singing from the back of the throat, not using their head voice, and mine is another vote against the trend (as many people who know me already know!).


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 12:00 PM

Don't know if anybody has said this but I'm convinced that the voice (whatever it's called - thanks Bernard) is the result of the facyt that the 'natural', open toned singing voice in women was considered vulgar and unladylike - I know my sisters got a great deal of stick from teachers for trying to sing naturally.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 12:04 PM

Yes, I suppose that some women singers' voices could be described as "Weak Breathy Girly" but, then again (speaking as a man), some of my very favourite contemporary singers of traditional songs are women (whilst most of my favourite Traditional singers are men - go figure!).

I'm particularly in awe of (in no particular order) Alison McMorland, Ellen Mitchell, Julie Murphy (especially some of the trad. songs she recorded with the Mellstock Band etc. back in the 90s), Frankie Armstrong (particularly some of her early stuff), Mary Humphreys and Shan Graebe. Ms. Graebe is currently one of my 'fave raves' - not only is she the possessor of a beautiful voice but she's also, technically, very accomplished.

I don't believe that any of these magnificent singers could, in any way, be described as "Weak", "Breathy" or "Girly".


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 12:05 PM

"'Head voice' is, I believe, the wrong terminology for what we're hearing"

I've never known wtf it means quite honestly! When I had a few singing lessons some years back, my tutor never mentioned it. What he did do was show me how not to waste air (needed so you can sustain a prolonged clear note or phrase) by breathing heavily through the note. You can check this by holding a lighted candle close to the mouth when singing, and seeing how much it flickers. Then work on using core muscles to control how much air is wasted while singing.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Bernard
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 02:02 PM

Yes, the candle technique was what I used to use in my teaching/choirmaster days! I doubt it 'Health and Safety' would allow it nowadays, though!

I think the problem with terminology always seems to be different people with their own pet phrases...! Ho hum!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 02:40 PM

Ms CS: I have PMd you on your Crow Sister log-in.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 02:57 PM

Ms. Borchester Echo, I'm afraid I can't log-in at the mo'. If it's of importance, perhaps you could PM Virginia Tam with your message, so she can pass it on to me? Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 03:21 PM

It's purely an Irish phenomenon as far as I can see, (and as was pointed out in a post above by mg)

Started with Enya, carried on by Frances Black, and now every young female Irish singer has adopted the style.

Why can they not imitate Dolores Keane if they feel they have to imitate anybody?


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 03:31 PM

Yes, indeed, why don't Irish women singers copy Dolores Keane if they feel they need to emulate anyone? I'm surprised at the lack of mention of Cara Dillon, the worst childlike lispy demi-warbler of the lot.

CS: done.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 04:31 PM

Er, because Enya, Loreena, Kate and Cara outsell Dolores? And these days, it's mostly about the fame, not the music.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Tootler
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 04:40 PM

I'm surprised at the lack of mention of Cara Dillon, the worst childlike lispy demi-warbler of the lot.

I had been wondering the same thing. But as you beat me to it, I will just say I agree with your assessment of her singing :-)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Callitfolk
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 05:34 PM

Guest Peter C notes that younger girls singers these days use the weaker, airy voice by choice, when naturally they might have a stronger voice. Guest Andrew Lancs mentions the disappearance of communal singing, and it's affect over time, on the everyday quality of singing. And overall, the consenus is that it's a trend based on popularity. Hmnn,,this is good stuff I had not thought of. I think the trends are the same on both sides of the pond.

Here's a video I posted on my blog, of a young(er) singer from your side of the pond. Not the most robust male voice, but not wimpy by any means. He is louder than his 12-string and I guess that matters most!

Serious Sam Barrett


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 06:27 PM

Some of us (including, I would guess, Moira Craig, Sarah Morgan and Carolyn Robson) sang in choirs where we learned to breathe while singing. But singing with vibrato is frowned upon in traditional circles.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 12:22 AM

"work on using core muscles to control how much air is wasted while singing."

Using the minimal effort to make the sound - useful for all performance... :-P as well as Piano Accordion playing too... :-)

Also useful technique for playing 'The Whistle' - although The Shaw really consumes air...

As to being able to sustain a note, don't people play that game any more where 'the last one standing wins'? I'm not talking about the drinking, either.... as long as I get a chance to fill my lungs fully, I used to be able to outlast most... I also learnt how to keep going after the point where you think you have breathed out fully - you can get a surprising amount of air more if you know how - and learn how to control the panic feeling that you 'just have to breathe'.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 02:35 AM

Yorkshires own Serious Sam Barrett ? ok but where did that dreadfull accent come from ? it's certainly not Yorkshire.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 03:10 AM

I'm surprised at the lack of mention of Cara Dillon, the worst childlike lispy demi-warbler of the lot.

Sorry to continue the game of Top Trumps: but if it's weak breathy childlike voices you want, I'm even more suprised at the lack of mention of Rachel Unthank, who makes Cara Dillon sound like Eartha Kitt by comparison.

And even if you don't like Cara Dillon's timbre, at least she can sing in tune, whereas Rachel Unthank can't hit the proverbial cow's rear end with the proverbial banjo in the tuning department ....


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Mike Rogers
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 03:33 AM

I have a theory that the originator of the sickly breathy vocals might have been Marilyn Monroe but singing was not her main asset.

Whatever, I run a mile at the sound of the Dillon/Rusby/Unthank style. (Top post from sfmans!)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Tootler
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 04:53 AM

Your mention of Rachel Unthank is interesting. I once heard Rachel sing in a local folk club - just taking her turn round the room - and she definitely did not have a breathy, girly voice then.

It makes you wonder


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: matt milton
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 06:11 AM

"And even if you don't like Cara Dillon's timbre, at least she can sing in tune, whereas Rachel Unthank can't hit the proverbial cow's rear end with the proverbial banjo in the tuning department ...."

What song are you thinking of? Genuine question.

I haven't heard much by the Unthanks - just songs on the radio in passing - but I've never heard anything out of tune.

I also don't recall Rachel Unthank having a particularly breathy voice. I'll go and listen again, but I wonder if some people are throwing the baby out with the bathwater as it were: ie there's nothing wrong with singing softly or gently or conversationally, and that's a very different thing from 'breathy' 'ethereal' Enya type stuff.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Sinéad.
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 06:44 AM

I really do think that some people on this forum (which I browse frequently) have nothing better to do than come on here and rant about anything and everything! However, of course all opinions are valid and worthy, I just feel that some people aren't supporting them properly.

As a 17 year old girl who "came into" folk music through the likes of Kate Rusby, The Unthanks, Cara Dillon, etc. and gradually progressed into listening to Maddy Prior, Anne Briggs, June Tabor, Sandy Denny, etc. I feel that these artists with "weak breathy vocals" certainly have a strong place into today's folk scene, as they really do help to merge the lines between contemporary and traditional. I'm sure that if someone had shown me Anne Briggs before hearing Rusby, I would've have dismissed her vocal style instantly- nothing more than a warbling woman about some old fashion stuff. But through appreciating Kate's subtle vocal changes to interpret a song, and her lovely vibrato, I was able to apply that to Anne Brigg's voice- so when I did hear her for the first time, I was in complete awe of not only her beautiful trills, the strength and power in her voice and wonderful interpretation but also her ability to hold a tune.

I also disagree with a lot of the comments in this thread. How anyone could say Rachel Unthank has a weak and breathy vocal is barbaric in my mind- although her tone is indeed breathy, I think it's a lovely and unusual ornamentation that creates an atmosphere appropriate for the songs she sings, wonderfully complemented by the grit of Becky's voice.

Regarding "head voice": the use of the term "head voice" is wrong in this context. Head voice is not necessarily, and shouldn't really be, weak or breathy. It should be a strong, articulated and clear sound produced from the diaphragm and focused to the front of the hard pallet in the mouth- this technique is usually used by classical singers. You can use head voice as an ornamentation, of course, by producing the sound in the same way, but instead of focusing the sound to the hard pallet, you leave it back in the soft pallet, much nearer (but never in) the throat. This produces an ethereal quality. I find this is often used to convey some kind of emotion- a sadness perhaps, much like in Sandy Denny's rendition of "Farewell Farewell". Also, it is often used to ornament in instrumental with no actual lyrics but more just soft "ooooh's" and "aaaah"'s much like Cara Dillon or Kate Rusby. The only way the head voice could be construed as weak, is if it is used incorrectly- maybe singing it in the soft pallet all the way through a song, which would probably suppress any other emotion in the song, leaving it sounding rather flat and dull. However, none of the contemporary examples listed in this thread, in my opinion, use it incorrectly, only to ornament.

Another point I'd like to make is that, as I've been browsing this website for the past year now, I notice a lot of threads about "the future of folk music" and a lot of members remark about how they would like to keep the tradition alive. By incorporating traditional songs into lots of different types of styles, we can reach much wider audiences and so, the artists who pioneer this should not be mocked but congratulated on their fresh new take on old traditional tales even if they aren't exactly to your taste.

I think it is a mockery and a down right cheek for some people to suggest that certain artists only make money or are liked because they are force fed to the young- as if we're all completely ignorant and unable to hear for ourselves whether we like the sound of the music and not the "look". To say that the likes of Kate and Cara are only where they are because of fame and the way the look is also an insult. Firstly, they would not be famous if people didn't like them. Secondly, both of these ladies (and many more that a number have suggested) are talented in their own right. By combining their talents with their faces and image they can sell more records, reach more people and inspire younger audiences. This can't really be a fault, can it?

To conclude, I really do think some people here should try to make more of an effort with the styles they dislike. Of course, if you detest it, it's your opinion that you're completely entitled to. However, if you expect younger generations to open their ears to folk music (which, let's face it, is quite alien compared to the music we hear in everyday life), then I think you also ought to embrace younger and quirkier styles of traditional song. Also, maybe more people should follow the lead of those above by listing the artists they DO like and why, instead of simply stating those they dislike. Whilst you don't have to like certain artists, I think one step towards appreciating them and what they do, is one step in the right direction for folk music and it's future.

Sinéad.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 06:56 AM

Pedant interlude - it's PALATE, not pallet - thanks.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 07:06 AM

"And even if you don't like Cara Dillon's timbre, at least she can sing in tune, whereas Rachel Unthank can't hit the proverbial cow's rear end with the proverbial banjo in the tuning department ...."

What song are you thinking of? Genuine question.


As you might have already guessed, it's not an album I keep on my iPod - but here's a link to The Bairns on Amazon - scroll down and preview 'Felton Lonnin' and 'Sea Song' for example.

Yes, somewhere in the semitone-plus slides on to and off of each note the singer does occasionally pass through being in tune with the piano and/or the rest of the band, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day ...


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: matt milton
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 07:06 AM

It's not an either-or thing though. I don't like Kate Rusby or Cara Dillon's singing much, for reasons given by others in this thread, but that's certainly not because I don't like "quirkier styles of traditional song".

One of the reasons I don't like em much is that they're not nearly quirky enough! Not nearly so idiosyncratic as the voices you hear on Voice of the People, say.

Of current female singers, I love love love Cath Tyler's voice. I also love Nancy Wallace, Mary Hampton (even if she is a bit piercing sometimes) and Stephanie Hladowski. I've liked what I've heard of Emily Portman and Laura McCormick.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 07:33 AM

Hi Sinead, thanks for a hearty rebuttal. It made interesting reading.

I thought this was interesting:
"as if we're all completely ignorant and unable to hear for ourselves whether we like the sound of the music", compared to this point you made:
"I'm sure that if someone had shown me Anne Briggs before hearing Rusby, I would've have dismissed her vocal style instantly- nothing more than a warbling woman about some old fashion stuff."

Why would you have "dismissed [Brigg's] style instantly" as contrasted to the breathy styles of popular modern female folk singers such as Ruby & co'?

You see this is in part connects to what I was asking about (what some of us see as) the contemporary popular trend in female vocalists style, when initiating this thread.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 07:50 AM

Well, firstly, I don't think Kate is at all breathy, but she is certainly not a belter and she is quite girlie.

In truth, the reason I probably would've dismissed Briggs at first is less to do with her vocal style and more to do with her song choices and the fact that she sings mainly unaccompanied. As someone who struggles with music (I have problems with hearing slight note changes, my pitch and rhythm are impaired) I would have found it quite difficult to appreciate the beauty of her ornamentations should Kate Rusby not have used them beforehand, incorporating her jolly arrangements along with it, to make the whole sound much more easy going. To this day, I still have to really listen to Anne Briggs to enjoy her music (and I very much do), but Kate Rusby is someone I can have one in the car, whilst I work and around the house and is much more easy going.

My point was essentially that although Rusby is very well presented (she's very pretty, her albums look lovely and well styled), these are not the reasons I like her music, as some others have suggested. Nor is it her fame or popularity. I am 100% certain that should someone have given me her CD on a blank disc with no case, I would have liked her.

I have a feeling I haven't explained myself very well! If that made sense, great, if not, please tell me and I'll have another go, haha.

GUEST,CS, I'd also like to say thank you for not being as rude as others- you read what I had to say, bought up a good point and said it all politely and weren't patronising in any way. :) (Just feel the need to say that this is not sarcasm- sometimes it's difficult to tell over the internet!)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Folknacious
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 08:02 AM

Is there a problem with people singing in a way that feels natural to them, and other people enjoying what they hear because it speaks to them?

One of the quickest ways of driving people away from folk music is pompously telling them that their tastes are crap and what they ought to listen to because it's better than what they like.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 08:06 AM

^ Exactly.

God, isn't it annoying when someone can wrap up everything you were trying to say in two sentences when you've just written an essay?

I'd also like to add that Kate Rusby is just a consistant example of the points I was trying to make- I'm not actually a massive fan of hers, I just enjoy her now and again. The same points can be made with Cara Dillon, Nancy Wallace (who is very breathy!), The Unthanks, Ruth Notman (great new album by the way), Bill Jones, Hannah James, Jackie Oates, Lisa Kanpp, etc etc.
    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. And Crow Sister, you should be posting under the name "Crow Sister" - nothing else.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 08:08 AM

it is important that singers have clear diction,I heard one of the singers mentioned on this thread live and I could not understand one word,which is really more important than breathiness or anything else other than perhaps[its arguable] singing in tune


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: theleveller
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 08:12 AM

Sinéad, thanks for an excellent post on this and your comment on the future of folk. I wholly agree with much of what you say. I admit that there are singers, both male and female, who grate on me, including some of the most respected folk 'legends', and others who raise goose bumps but, as rule, I prefer the stronger voices (just as well, as mrsleveller was trained as an opera singer and has amazing projection). In the end, though, it's all a matter of taste (and, sometimes, of mood) and there's certainly no right or wrong way to sing a folk song, so if you don't like someone's approach then, after you've given them a fair hearing, simply don't listen to them.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 08:18 AM

Nothing wrong with a bit of sarcasm sometimes, makes internet more fun! ;-)

As I've said lots elsewhere, I came to this music through singing rather than listening, and that route in was entirely unmediated by the work or style of popular contemporary folk artists. I also sing unaccompanied traditional material, which by necessity means projecting and articulating clearly without a mic, usually over a noisy bar rabble. It can and does sound pretty strange to some of my friends & family too. So your description of your route in via contemporary singers 'bridging the gap' between alt/pop and folk makes sense.
I'm with Matt though, I don't find the more 'girlie' artists you cited who drew you into listening to earlier revival singers work, quirky or personally engaging. But that's a taste thing, and I think you made some sound points in defending their work and style. Cheers :)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 08:20 AM

Ooops, my last @ Sinead there.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 09:07 AM

I have to agree with Sinead that, it is the works of the known (often young softer voiced singers) that draw attention to the works of the unknown. That is a wonderful thing and notches up the value of the former even more in their service to the genre.

I don't see how it harms the music or the genre that the "breathy" singer brings the music and genre to the fore for younger generations to learn and enjoy. Every ear matures at its own rate. If a newly indoctrinated fan seeks to delve into the history of the song / genre and variety of presentations then more power to him/her. Job done.   If not, then it is no great loss is it?

But it is curious that for sometime now even going back into the 60s that the diet soda pop voice seems to have been more promoted /accepted than the whiskey voice when it comes to women singers.

And I think that is the direction guest CS meant for the thread to take. Speculations of misogynistic manipulative marketing and promotions industry aside, it would be interesting to know, to whom and why specifically that type of voice appeals. Would Sinead be willing / able to explore this among her peers?

We should also look into our own history of listening. I will admit that there was a time that I really did like the voice, and emulated it. Should I blame my soprano church hymn singing Mom? Should I blame a lifetime of movie musical and Disney heroines? When I was a teen in the early to late 70s, I drew from Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Tina Turner, etc. Then reverted back to high light voice in my 20s through 30s. Why? Because I wanted to stretch my voice in that direction and I sought music that made me feel better in a life that was pretty damn grim. I wanted music that lifted me, and that was mainly hymns and classical vocal music.

In my late 30s I shared Loreena McKinnitt with my teenage daughter who in turn introduced me to Silly Sisters. When she was 20 we both discovered Kate Rusby almost simultaneously and both enjoyed her music immensely. I don't feel we were wrong in this. Each artist has been a step on a journey to enjoying and learning the genre.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 10:35 AM

Not every "belter" is right for every song. I have yet to hear a woman's blues that Jo-Ann Kelly couldn't handle - but there are plenty of songs that I didn't feel sat right with Odetta.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: matt milton
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 11:09 AM

"Nancy Wallace (who is very breathy!)"

I disagree. She's not a belter. She's quite soft-spoken. But breathy? Not that I can hear.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 12:03 PM

While I don't agree entirely with Sinéad's "....nothing better to do than come on here and rant about anything and everything!" I do find the 'name and shame' tendency on this thread a little unnecessary.
I support the idea that it is up to the singer to choose how he or she sings a song, but it is also their job to make it work for the listener, who has a perfect right to an opinion on how it is performed - otherwise the singer may as well stay at home and sing in the bath!
I raised the (initials) of S.C as having introduced the breathy voice to the revival, that's all.
For me, a command of tones is as important as the ability to stay in tune - a repertoire of tones is vital to the interpretation of a song.
Different tones in speaking are indicative of different moods, emotions, whatever, and so should come into the work of singing.
Apart from anything else, a number of songs sung in the same tone and (more often than not) at the same speed can sound pleasant at first, but after a time can be mesmerising - the ear ceases to work and the listener simply stops listening.
Over-application of work on tone can be theatrical, but when it is coupled with interpretation it keeps the listener on their toes (aurally.
Quite often while working on a song, experimenting with different tones can solve problems of interpretation, ("jeeze; I never thought of it like that").
For me, a constant use of the same tone is an indication of a lack of interpretation and just a striving for a musical effect - soulless singing.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 01:08 PM

"One of the quickest ways of driving people away from folk music is pompously telling them that their tastes are crap and what they ought to listen to because it's better than what they like."

Here we go again! No-one is telling anyone that "their tastes are crap" or telling them "what they ought to listen to". This thread is a critique of various singing styles, particularly those of women singers - a perfectly valid exercise. It's about time that certain people grew up, learned the difference between criticism and authoritarianism and stopped being so f***ing paranoid!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 01:21 PM

I suppose a case can be made for saying "de gustibus non disputandum" but I at least wonder why one would sing like that.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Mrs Banjiman
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 01:27 PM

What an interesting thread! I agree with certain points and it is something that Banjiman and I have discussed often in the past, especially when I recorded my last CD. I don't think I can make my voice sound like the weak, breathy girly style that seems to be in vogue even if I try!

I'm sure amplification has something to do with it. I often wonder when I hear a recording of some of the current crop of big female folk names who sing in the style we're discussing how they'd cope at a festival over a weekend doing 7 or 8 x 40+ sets in noisy pubs with no amplification. Would they have a voice left? This is often what us jobbing folk singers are expected to do tho'! As a singer, one should learn how to produce one's voice. Musicians - even self-taught folkie-style ones spend hours crafting their guitar, fiddle, banjo, accordion playing, or whatever is the weapon of their choice, and I don't just mean learning more repertoire. The voice is an instrument too and yet I wonder how many folk singers do really develop skills in controlled breathing, voice projection, head voice - chest voice transition, etc. Even basic vocal warm-up exercises. I am no expert, but still draw on some tips I got from a teacher at school when I was 15! Plus a few years of singing in a big choral society.

I also think the idea of cultural shifts in church attendance and general community singing trends do play a part. Our 10 year old daughter who sings a lot at school, in church and with us in folk clubs doesn't have the weak, breathy girly type of voice either. Mind you, I do singing work with 4- 10 year olds in school and neither do most of the little girls I hear singing on a weekly basis.

The weak, breathy girly vocals were the first ones I begain to listen to as they were the ones I was easily exposed to on Radio 2, on the main stages at festivals, etc. It is when you start going around to your local folk club that you realise that women who sing like that are in the minority!

I have started delving into some of the Scottish stalwarts such as Gordeanna McCulloch and Jean Redpath who certainly pack a punch!

I do not dislike the weak, breathy, girly vocals per se. But what I do dislike is that this style of voice is then used for singing all kinds of songs whether a lullaby, a serious ballad or whatever. Give me someone like Eliza Carthy who can sing softly if needed or really gutsy as required to suit the song and who also challenges herself in the material she picks rather than sticking to a safe formula in the vocal comfort zone all the time!

Sorry...didn't mean to go on so long. Time I took a breath (lol!)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 01:27 PM

"de gustibus non disputandum"
You've said that before Richard - it looks very usable - what does it mean?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 02:13 PM

"This thread is a critique of various singing styles, particularly those of women singers - a perfectly valid exercise."

Yes. And I would certainly hope so Shimrod, especially on a folk discussion board! Though my OP was possibly too flippantly worded, as I have already said.

I thought Mrs Banjimans post there was insightful, and summed this up nicely: "The weak, breathy girly vocals were the first ones I began to listen to as they were the ones I was easily exposed to on Radio 2, on the main stages at festivals, etc. It is when you start going around to your local folk club that you realise that women who sing like that are in the minority!"


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 02:30 PM

"But it is curious that for sometime now even going back into the 60s that the diet soda pop voice seems to have been more promoted /accepted than the whiskey voice when it comes to women singers.

And I think that is the direction guest CS meant for the thread to take."

Yeah, I was wondering how this more girlish/airier/intimate (however you want to describe it) vocal style (arguably combined with a similar fey media friendly image) has seemingly risen to prominence. As Mrs. B says it's certainly the thing I for one associate to more popular modern folk artists, though at clubs you're probably less likely to see it. So there is arguably room for the media manipulation theory suggested by some. Jim early on commented on the perceived "vulgarity" of a more assertive female voice. And the feminist in me is tempted by RB's 'societal image of woman as girl victim'. But I think that's a contentious one, and possibly beyond the scope of a thread like this.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 02:40 PM

I was quite surprised to see, up above there somewhere, someone mentioning Judy Collins as a perpetrator of the "weak breathy girly" vocal style. And I continued to be surprised that no one else mentioned her again, either to agree or disagree. I disagree; I always considered her a pretty damn strong upper-register vocalist.

Now, she does not at all fit everyone's definition of "folksinger" ~ I'm sure that she herself would describe her repertoire as "art song." Plus, she's a product of classical training as an instrumentalist and also as a singer, and obviously intends to produce a "pure" musical tone as opposed to a delivery that emphasizes method-acting-type "expressiveness" or that emulates the accents or quirks of any down-home "source" singers. So she's not funky or ethnic, but I don't think that makes her "weak."


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: mikesamwild
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 02:53 PM

These women should come and belt out South Yorkshire carols at Christmas tide that'll clear the sinuses and exercise the diaphragm and get some ale down to lubricate the vocal chords


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 03:29 PM

I don't think I'd heard Rachel Unthank before, so went hunting on YouTube.

And found her version of "Blue Bleezing Blind Drunk".

Gee. thanks for that...

Unfortunately hers seems to be the only version of that song on YouTube. I've heard it sung quite often, always by women with really strong voices - which makes an important point with this one, that being beaten and abused does not make you in any way pathetic (whereas Unthank comes across as a rapist's fantasy of submissiveness). I heard Siobhan Miller do it at one of her first ever public performances - she must have been about 12. Bizarre choice for a girl that young, but she belted it out with terrific power and really made it work.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Folknacious
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 03:59 PM

a rapist's fantasy of submissiveness

I suppose you'd have to have those sort of fantasies to know.

Matt Milton made a good point about Nancy Wallace. She sings in her speaking voice. So did Shirley Collins. No artifice. So does Jackie Oates. So, I believe do the Unthanks and Kate Rusby (I've never spoken to any of them but heard them speak on stage and radio).

What many people here seem to refer to as a "belting" voice is an acting voice. It's somebody adopting a persona through their singing. You could, if you so desired, say that's a fake. They don't talk like that in real life. Jo Ann Kelly certainly didn't speak like she sang, from what I remember, and I don't simply mean she didn't have an American accent.

From an agnostic start, I've grown to love the Shirley Collins approach down the years and am glad she has become such a role model for being what you are.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 05:45 PM

Of [matters of] taste there is no argument [based in rationality]. The Wikipedia version leaves out the nuances. I am not at all sure that "est" ought to be present in the Latin.

While formal voice training can improve the durability and volume of the voice it greatly risks moulding voices into the robotic RP opera-style - and I believe that SC would have been better without the abuse of classical training - the sort that led to sopranos accompanied by grand pianos singing "folk songs" rigidly. She overcame much of any tendency to that but still sounded rather like a parlour concert.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: TheSnail
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 06:45 PM

Folknacious

From an agnostic start, I've grown to love the Shirley Collins approach down the years and am glad she has become such a role model for being what you are.

Indeed. Sad to say, Shirley doesn't sing anymore but she still does a great deal to encourage others. A number of the usual suspects were going about our business organising the Lewes Folk Festival the other day when we happened to meet Shirley. After some discussion of her presentations, she went on to talk enthusiastically about the people who had contacted her in advance about her forthcoming master classes.

She is doing a great deal to pass on the music to the next generation.

And even though she doesn't sing anymore, her speaking voice still sends shivers up my spine.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: TheSnail
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 06:50 PM

Richard Bridge

I believe that SC would have been better without the abuse of classical training

?!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 06:53 PM

I'm with you on that one, Snail!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 07:20 PM

Hear, hear, Bryan. Shirley's advice to singers can be summed up as "Find your own voice and use it."
And if she is asked where to find your own voice, she will say, "Start from your speaking voice and you will soon find it." That is why Bryan writes, "her speaking voice still sends shivers up my spine." because they both come from the same place. She is, at root, a plain Sussex women who has the remnants of the old Hastings accent. Her singing, like her speaking and her writing, is plain and straightforward, but exhilerating for all that. If you listen to the old Sussex/Hampshire female singers that Bob Copper recorded for the BBC in the 1950s and you'll hear women using their voices in the way Sussex singers did; Shirley falls into that tradition. Certainly, she did not sing with the power of a Jeannie Robertson - but she's not a Scots traveller; she does not use the florid decorations of an Elizabeth Cronin - but she is not Irish.

But if people fail to hear the emotional depth and the simple majesty of Shirley's singing, well, to my ears, they are missing something very pleasing indeed.

Certainly the "breathy folkie default" of many young female singers is there, but it is not because they are what Jim calls 'head singers'; it is an affectation and as Anahata correctly points out, it is derived from a number of successful female singers who have become role models... and it has happened in the years since Shirley stopped singing.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 08:05 PM

I think Sinead's comment about "dismissing" folk music, as well as the comments about needing a "bridge" into folk music, are very telling, because they do imply that people judge by what they're fed, rather more than by what they'd like if they did their own musical exploring. I didn't need "bridges" to get into the many, radically different styles of music I appreciate, I simply went looking for it with an open mind. The fact that she had to become accustomed to appreciate a lone voice singing is particularly shocking: has simple singing become so foreign to our way of life??

Folk/traditional music doesn't need to appeal to "wider audiences"; like classical music, it has become a niche taste which will survive on its own merits. You don't need to build bridges to it, because it's perfectly fine as it is, and it's immediately accessible to anyone who goes browsing around for it. The "bridges" tend to supplant rather than popularize the original music. Most people just stick with the "accessible" pap they're fed; they don't go on from Kate Rusby to discover Annie Briggs or Maddy Prior (who are still one step removed from trad singers, recordings of which are scarce due to the overwhelming dominance of the revivalists and contempos.)

To say that the affected "breathy girly vocals" are laudable and necessary as a bridge--well, I'm just not buying it. And I certainly don't want to see that affectation become dominant in the folk world, particularly since it's directly in opposition to virtually all traditional styles. Should "Rigoletto" be performed by boy bands to "make it accessible"? Or can you see how the essence of the opera would be bolloxed by such an attempt? You can only twist the original music so far, divorcing it from its original context, before you have robbed it of its essential nature and created an anachronistic mockery: your grandfather dressed in parachute pants and a "Nine Inch Nails" T-shirt sporting a mohawk. Not convincing on any level, and rightfully regarded as inferior to self-consistent contemporary works.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 02:34 AM

....has simple singing become so foreign to our way of life??

Sadly, yes. We are not working in fields, coal-pits, or sitting at the spinning wheel or loom, using song to occupy the mind while the body toils away.

sigh... I sang a great deal more when I was at home looking after my kids and keeping house. But I did that because I learned the activity from my own mother. Only one of my children picked up that singing bug and carried out of the house and that only because she didn't give a hang about what her peers or strangers thought about her singing in the halls at school, or on the Charlottesville downtown mall or in the queue at an amusement park.   

That kind of personal confidence is rare, I think.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: treewind
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 02:46 AM

"de gustibus non disputandum"
In case anyone else didn't do Latin at school (tut! tut!)
"There's no accounting for taste" is the common English equivalent.
"there is no disputing about tastes" literally


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 02:46 AM

"I think Sinead's comment about "dismissing" folk music, as well as the comments about needing a "bridge" into folk music, are very telling, because they do imply that people judge by what they're fed,"

Those were the points made that I found particularly intriguing too, and indeed I'm tempted to lean towards a similar conclusion likewise - with no disrespect intended to Sinead who argued her case well.

I'd say I was similarly inclined as Artful (and arguably many 'traddies' if one can go by the posts about other music here) with an interest in an eclectic variety of music throughout my teens/twenties (in my thirties now). Though I'd rather not come over too heavy about "youth today" being passive consumers compared to the good old days when we were all funky free-spirits and the man didn't have us in his pocket, no sir! I think the branding and packaging of music as product has been going on for as long as their has been a music industry. And as Tam says it would seem a disempowered "diet-soda" voice / image (can we separate the two?) of woman has been around for quite some time now. What interests me is it's seemingly high-profile presence in popular contemporary folk in particular - which not only misrepresents the majority of women's voices out there singing folk today in the pubs and clubs, but also runs counter to 'the tradition' itself. If I think of the working-class women who would have sung these songs once, I see women who lived bloody tough lives, grafting hard, child-rearing, dying young, oppressed by their economic masters, and so-on. But importantly I see strength in there, born of brutal necessity. I hope I'm not romanticising anything too much here like "there was was a real woman!", but I must confess that I find popularised stereotypes of woman as some kind of fey, immature and vulnerable girlish creature, provoke a degree of ambivalence and discomfort in me at the least.. It's not an image I associate to working-class women, but to the upper classes who preferred their women passive and 'hobbled'. Don't get me wrong I'm not bitching at women who like to wear their hair long and don a pretty frock (done plenty of that my time!) I'm just musing on broader implications of the whole 'branding' thing. As said, I think saying much more than that, is possibly beyond the scope of this thread. Though I've probably said too much already!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 03:14 AM

There is some irony in the fact that perhaps the largest body of powerful female singers recently(ish) would have been the most disempowered and stylised by the industry: the female singers forming the bridge from "race music" into 60's "soul".

It gave us the voices of Etta James, Mary Wells, Diana Ross, Martha Reeves - the list goes on and on, but look at the way they were slicked out by the record business.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 03:19 AM

RB: "the female singers forming the bridge from "race music" into 60's "soul"."

Yeah, I see a parallel there too.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: theleveller
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 03:35 AM

"they don't go on from Kate Rusby to discover Annie Briggs or Maddy Prior"

A totally unprovable sweeping statement.

"it's directly in opposition to virtually all traditional styles"

Folk songs, away from the attentions of the dogmatic revivalists, don't have rigid 'STYLES'. That's the whole point of folk music - people sing it in their own natural voices. Any interpretation is acceptable - like I said before, if you don't happen to like it don't listen, and let those who do get on with it.

I used to know someone who got incensed when women sang sea shanties and when anyone put in harmonies, claiming that it wasn't the way they were supposed to be sung. Why not just let people get on and sing the songs the way they want to instead of bringing in this dogmatic bollocks?


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 04:07 AM

Actually 'disputandum' is a gerundive - the same verb form used in the phrase Cartago delenda est, "Carthage must be destroyed". So it's literally "tastes mustn't be argued about" - or, as Anahata said, "there's no accounting for tastes".

I think we can separate out the 'weak' and the 'breathy'. The latter probably does go back to an association between folk and a certain idea of 'femininity', possibly associated with over-exposure to pre-Raphaelite paintings. But weak voices are everywhere, particularly among younger performers - lots of people of both sexes get up to sing before they've learnt to project, & with microphones and PAs almost universal they never need to learn. (I started doing it by accident - at my first floor spot I was terrified by the audience looking at me, & avoided their eyes by looking *up* and singing over their heads, making a friend of the back wall.)

As for who first made people think that just hitting the note and breathing the words sounds good, I blame Chet Baker.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 04:08 AM

"Start from your speaking voice and you will soon find it."
This is exactly it - the thing I always think of is that here in the West of Ireland, especially in the Irish - speaking areas they say "say a song" rather than "sing a song".
I also agree totally that the breathy tone "is an affectation", the problem being here that with the upturn of fortune of Irish music many of these breathy singers are setting up as teachers. It is why I always always advocate listening to source singers like Sarah Makem, or Mary Anne Carolan, or Maggie Murphy. No young singer in their right mind would want to sound like a sixty/seventy year old man or woman, but at least listen to what they are doing with their voices and with the songs.
One of the techniques we were encouraged in, in the Critics Group was to imitate other singers and styles (folk and non-folk); not in order to sing like that but to explore the mechanics and capabilities of your own voice and to learn to produce, control and to expand them - to "find out where your voice was coming from".
Cap'n mentioned not liking Maggie Barry - I would agree on not wishing to listen to her sing continuously over a long period because of her tonal limitations, but WHAT A VOICE!!
Maggie was a street singer, mainly in busy towns, and she learned to pitch her voice over the constant noise of passers-by and traffic, as did many of her trade. It wasn't done with volume, it was sheet tonal projection. I'm convinced that the distinctive tone identified with Traveller women (often referred to somewhat unkindlly as 'the Tinker's whine') came from this. One ballad seller (a man in this case, who sold 'ballads', (song-sheets) at fairs and cattle-markets) told us that there was a difference between street and pub singing and what he referred to as 'fireside singing', that done back at the caravan at night in the presence of family, friends and a few locals. But he could do both with ease.
Maggie Barry's voice was rooted deep in the tradition; anybody who doubts this should get hold of MacColl's series of ten programmes, 'The Song Carriers' and hear how he compares her singing with that of a Canto Hondo singer from Southern Spain. He opens the series by running her voice into that of the Spaniard, and you really can't see the join.
"In case anyone else didn't do Latin at school (tut! tut!)"
Thanks for that Richard - we struggled with English in Speke Secondary Modern, I'm afraid. Where the posh shoopl around the corner were doing "How now, brown cow", we were doing "Tarra Teresa, see yer Thirsdy" - sorry.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: theleveller
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 04:51 AM

Jim makes a good point about adjusting your technique to different situations. I'm sure most of us adapt the volume and probably the style from when we're singing in a big, noisy room to when we're at home in the living room or in a caravan awning at a festival in the early hours (sorry to anyone we've kept awake).

One situation where both mrsleveller and I have had to think about our technique is when using microphones. Neither of us had had much experience of this until recently and we had to learn to adopt a more intimate approach rather than belting it out. I wonder how many younger singers have developed their style for microphone use and find it harder to project without it.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 05:34 AM

Ahem, it's provable by looking at sales.

Also, listen to traditional singers; you will find many variations in styles, but also certain consistencies. I can't recall any wispy, breathy interpretations from the trad singers I've heard, so I have no reservations about stating firmly "it's directly in opposition to virtually all traditional styles". Doesn't mean you can't try: the wispy voice may work for certain "interpretations", but largely it robs these songs of their intrinsic power and changes their quality out of recognition.

I don't object to shanties being sung either by women or with harmonies--to my mind, that doesn't greatly alter their essential nature. If you want to hear them sung as they WERE sung, however, that doesn't fill the bill (though I suspect that harmonies were used, lore to the contrary)--and I hope hearing them sung "straight" never dies as an option because of misplaced PC-ness. But if you sang them with a wispy voice backed by foofy synthed chords, the end result might please some, even many, folks (the same ones who enjoyed "Rogues Gallery", probably), but it would have blessed little to do with shanty singing by any definition that wasn't utter nonsense. The same holds true for other types of trad songs. In other words, if you want to do it, do it, but don't pretend it has sod-all to do with the tradition. And don't whine when others criticize the artificiality or silliness of the end result.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:01 AM

"Cap'n mentioned not liking Maggie Barry - I would agree on not wishing to listen to her sing continuously over a long period because of her tonal limitations, but WHAT A VOICE!!"

Just for the record, it was me that mentioned not (much) caring for Margaret Barry, not anybody else. I do listen to her from time to time though, I just find her a bit relentless. Funnily enough, when I first got into folk music, I actually really liked the more abrasive of singing styles - Young Tradition, Margaret Barry – precisely because, as you say, it reminded me of some Central European, flamenco and Middle Eastern traditions. Less and less these days though.

"One situation where both mrsleveller and I have had to think about our technique is when using microphones. Neither of us had had much experience of this until recently and we had to learn to adopt a more intimate approach rather than belting it out"

I was listening to Sam Lee's recordings on his myspace page the other day. He's singing a lot more gently than he does live. I think that's sometimes necessary; you've got to remember that mics and studios impose a whole new context on how things sound.
    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: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:14 AM

Mod: before you busily delete it, I think last 'anon' post was authored by Matt Milton (I recall his earlier mention of Margaret Barry)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:18 AM

After finding no other versions of "Mickey's Warning"/Bluee Bleezing Blind Drunk" on YouTube I went looking for them on Spotify (North Americans may stop reading at this point).

Sheila Stewart: "source singer" for this, I guess, or near enough to it. Certainly not weak, though not even Sheila Stewart would say the tone of Sheila Stewart's voice was exactly a joy to listen to. But she sounds a bit distanced from the song.

The Lucky Bags: pretty reasonable. Alternating solo and chorus works well here.

Cilla Fisher: a bit too slow, but the best one I've found on the web. Suggests a woman who isn't just a tough survivor, but has also retained her sense of humour.

Rachel Unthank: I can find nothing whatever to recommend in this.

Does Mrs Banjiman do this one? Seems to me it would suit her style very well. Might also fit the bill as one of the "anti-heroine" songs Crow Sister was looking for.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:30 AM

"Blue Bleezing Blind Drunk"
Pathetic attempt to wring humour out of domestic violence as far as I'm concerned - but I have been argued with on this before now - be interested to know what others think.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:38 AM

"Pathetic attempt to wring humour out of domestic violence as far as I'm concerned"

What are the origins of the song? I think one of the things many (if not most?) survivors of different types of abuse will identify with is shared (and perhaps to an outsiders view bad taste) black humour about their experiences as a positive and genuine emotional resource. Though it's not necessarily appropriate at all times.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:46 AM

Jim, re. Mary Ann Carolan, my (then) 9-year old learned 'My Father's A Hedger and Ditcher' from her last year. She still sings it. When she sang it at last year's Regional Fleadh, however, the adjudicator didn't even know it. Where do they get these people?

Our singers, as it happens, had been coached my Mrs BAS who had no connection with Irish music until she had the misfortune to get landed with me - but she managed to do a great job in getting the kids to get their voices out and be heard. She also taught them to listen to themselves and not drift out of key during the song. However, the adjudicators seemed to prefer to hear all sorts of wobbly 'ornamentation' which a lot of teachers would seemingly rather teach kids rather than teaching them to sing in tune or understand the words of the song.

Since then the missus has packed in coaching, partly because she feels that she can't honestly prepare kids to face this sort of experience if the criteria for 'quality' is that arbitrary.

But then, don't get me started on Fleadhanna.

Someone mentioned Dolores Keane - in the 80s she and Mary Black were both in De Danann, of course (as well as Maura O'Connell), who were probably the biggest Irish traditional band at the time apart from the Chieftains. A lot of people seemed to come down on one side or the other as far as whose approach they favoured. Dolores was the earthy, rougher one and Mary was the FM-friendly, more commercial one. Actually it wasn't nearly as clear-cut as that but most female Irish singers who make it big these days seem to have gone down the latter path.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Morris-ey
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:59 AM

""Blue Bleezing Blind Drunk"
Pathetic attempt to wring humour out of domestic violence as far as I'm concerned - but I have been argued with on this before now - be interested to know what others think.
Jim Carroll"

Never seen much humour in that song tbh...


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 07:11 AM

[Blue Bleezin Blind Drunk]
What are the origins of the song?

According to MacColl and Seeger in Till Doomsday in the Afternoon, "From the singing of Sheila MacGregor. Learned from her mother."

I'd guess it was an extremely-folk-processed temperance broadside.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: mattkeen
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 07:15 AM

Some of my favourite singers have "variable" tuning

None of my favourites are "breathy" as an affectation.

Important point that Vic mentioned a while back

If your natural voice is breathy then fine - but largely it seems to me its an affectation from the world of pop.
I think it unpleasant when mid twenties women sound like 12 year olds - especially if they are singing Cruel Mother or a dark incest ballad or something


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 08:24 AM

Jim,I did not say that I did not like Margaret Barry.
she is one of my heroines,she had a trick when busking which was to sing in an alley way,which acted like a microphone,another handy tip is to sing against a woodden door[it has the same effect as a mike]


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 08:56 AM

"Jim,I did not say that I did not like Margaret Barry."
Whoops - sorry folks,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 09:41 AM

James Yorkston (whose voice is very weak in terms of projection, although not breathy) does quite a likeable version of BBBD, although for reasons best known to himself he re-sexes it without changing the names - so "I married a girl for her money", etc. He slows it right down and sings it not much above a mumble - it sounds like the singer's quietly falling asleep while consoling herself (or himself) with a revenge fantasy. Unfortunately his only recorded version of the song is marred by being sung in a major key, which makes it sound far too cheerful.

I'm not crazy about the song myself. To me it has the ring of a comic (music hall?) song: a Mrs Gamp/Hilda Ogden figure, a comedy working-class woman, complaining articulately about her husband, and concluding with the hilarious notion that she might go and get drunk herself.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Morris-ey
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 09:54 AM

"...mid twenties women sound like 12 year olds - especially if they are singing Cruel Mother or a dark incest ballad"

I'd have thought that sounding like a 12 year old when singing a "dark incest ballad" would be just right...


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Jim Redfern
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 10:45 AM

Dorothy Elliott...Chris Coe...Peta Webb...Eileen Pratt...Lal Waterson.
None to come anywhere near 'em now and I can't see that the trend will swing back


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Jim Redfern
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 10:59 AM

Thinking further,it ain't just the girls.I can think of few young male thrusters who do much other than under-sing a song.Most,if not all,are instrument accompanied and the strong trend is to let the instrument[s] be the listening focus.Where are the new unaccompanied singers?The reasons lie in the fact that revival singers of the60's/70's who took their material from traditional singers placed massively more emphasis on instrumentation.Today's young lights learn their material from the aforementioned revivalists and the song and quality of song becomes even more diluted.That's called development.Great singers exist in the underground movement,still,but few youngsters of alleged note know they exist,in my view.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 12:49 PM

Dick Miles sings unaccompanied herehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnHxwZb_Hig
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnHxwZb_Hig


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 12:51 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyWSNjDAmEM


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Penny S.
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 01:04 PM

Reading this and wondering whether I was using head or chest, and indeed whether my voice really counted as folky at all, I tumbled across the reference to a collection of recordings of Sussex and Hampshire women singers - anyone know where I could listen to these? I lost contact with the Sussex voice at 11, and never hear it anywhere now (I noticed the other day that a farmer character on Foyle's Law was completely wrong, but where he would have found a proper model I don't know. And the coastal accent would be different, too.) I'd like to be able to refer to it again - the mouth shape would be totally different to Dartford, though, and take a bit of work.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 01:11 PM

PENNYS
my advice to you is use your natural voice,make sure you are breathing from your diaphragm,and practise breath control,then go away and listen to Sarah Makem,Jeannie Robertson Margaret Barry.
If you want sussex accent listen to bob and ron copper


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Penny S.
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 01:26 PM

Yes, but accents vary according to whether the speaker is male or female - I can do Sarf Lun'non male, but not female - I don't hear it often enough. Don't want to do the same with my native speech.

I'm doin what comes natrully when I sing, whatever it is, and it is quite loud.

The other thing I thought, reading the thread, was what is happening in schools. The one I taught in is using a music scheme which does not include much singing, they don't have anyone to do a choir, they don't do much hymn singing in assembly, and Christmas concerts tend to go down the Jingle Bells road. And Slade.

I went to the funeral of an ex-pupil the other year, and boys from his school turned up en masse. I expected something like the massed BB singing I heard as a child, but no. Singing out was not happening.

So no church singing - and what there is is not so stretching as of old, more worship songs than hymns, musically less demanding, less school singing. Watching DVDs in the car instead of belting out ten green bottles etc. Less singing in the playground. The children don't even know that Batman smells and Robin's gone away. Or that teacher hit me with the ruler and father hit me with the walking stick.

There were some children who found the way I sing rather odd. And embarrassing. Until Pavarotti and Nessun Dorma. They aren't used to belting, so no surprise if they grow up and don't belt themselves.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 01:40 PM

"whether my voice really counted as folky at all,"

Penny, I hope no-one reading this thread starts to feel paranoid that their own natural voice is in any way not 'folky' enough, or not 'folky' in the correct way.

If anything this thread was for me questioning why a very particular kind of 'girlish breathy folky' voice seemed to be more prominent and visible than other kinds. And according to some comments here, such a vocal style may be increasingly becoming a kind of folk 'vocal role model' for younger singers soaking this style up and reproducing it.

For my own sins, I think I've subliminally absorbed too much from revival singers styles. Not an intentional thing, but it's happened nevertheless! In retrospect I wish I'd have used more of the work of traditional singers when starting out so that I could get more to the heart of the thing from get-go rather than have my reading of songs mediated by revival stylings.

I think it's difficult to find ones own voice - it's something that I'm feeling challenged by now, but I certainly don't think (as I'm sure everyone here would agree) that there is a correct and universal 'folky' style than everyone aught to aspire to reproduce.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 01:48 PM

"but I certainly don't think (as I'm sure everyone here would agree) that there is a correct and universal 'folky' style than everyone aught to aspire to reproduce."

Absolutely right.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: mattkeen
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 01:53 PM

Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Morris-ey - PM
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 09:54 AM

"...mid twenties women sound like 12 year olds - especially if they are singing Cruel Mother or a dark incest ballad"

I'd have thought that sounding like a 12 year old when singing a "dark incest ballad" would be just right..."



No a mid 20's pretending to be a 12 year old in an incest ballad is decidedly weird


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 02:02 PM

Penny
Try starting to sing a song then - in the middle of a line go into your speaking voice without hesitation - you should be able to tell then.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 02:05 PM

Hmm, maybe as a counterpoint to this thread, it might be worth starting a thread celebrating "characterful, idiosyncratic and individualistic female voices in folk?" Be great if we could get some YouTubes up too, though it might be more challenging to find examples of the work of such singers online, due to reasons already discussed.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Sinéad
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 02:58 PM

Hiya, Sinéad again.

A few points have been made since my original post and some I shall address (hopefully all, but I may forget some).

Posted by Artful Codger:

"I think Sinead's comment about "dismissing" folk music, as well as the comments about needing a "bridge" into folk music, are very telling, because they do imply that people judge by what they're fed."

You are correct, I did make a slight contradiction there, but I think you have taken it slightly out of context or maybe I didn't explain myself well enough. What I was referring to then, was the number of threads about "the future of folk music" and "how to get youngsters into folk" and such. I am not denying that there are probably a huge percentage of people who DO judge by what they're fed, and thus to "catch" these people, to show them the beauty of folk music and it's community, the more commercial artists are essential, I think. Also, I did not say I would've "dismissed folk music", but I would have probably dismissed Anne Briggs. To me, whatever anyone here says, Kate Rusby is folk music. It may not be 100% traditional, but it isn't like she isn't true to the tradition; her instruments are traditional a lot of the time, as are her song choices. I think it's a slight insult to disclude her from the genre altogether. My other point was that a lot of people in this thread seemed to assume all young people were exactly the same- as if we dawdle into HMV and go "ooooh, she's pretty, me buy CD of pretty lady, la de da de". It simply isn't true for the majority and I don't think I know anyone under the age of 30 who would not play a CD because the person on the front was ugly or unpleasantly dressed , like some people did suggest. Also, whilst I don't think we NEED bridges to folk music, I do think they are very useful to catch some stray listeners, to keep the tradition alive and fresh- and even if you feel they don't fulfil that potential, what harm to they present?

"Folk/traditional music doesn't need to appeal to "wider audiences"; like classical music, it has become a niche taste which will survive on its own merits."

With all due respect, I think classical music has a much larger audience than folk music does, for a few big reasons . Firstly, I believe religion has a lot to do with it. I also believe that the way psychologists and scientists present classical music influences the sales of classical CDs- often they are promoted with the promise of higher IQ in children, relaxing qualities and a device for improving your own mental stimulation- all things of which today's modern society are craving. Lastly, let's not forget the likes of Hayley Westenra, Katherine Jenkins, G4 and other such young, beautiful contemporary classical artists. I know for a fact that there are people who went to my school who would have not explored the depth of classical music in the way they have if it wasn't for Katherine Jenkins bridging that "young-mature" gap and making the whole genre much more acceptable among peers. I think it's certainly easy to forget that when you're out of school, actually a large percentage of time spent there is trying to be accepted, liked and valued by your peers- the likes of Hayley Westenra made it okay to listen to classical music. This in itself may be wrong, weak or pathetic, but it is the mind of an adolescent and I'm sure it has a will always be a prominent part of growing up, and it's an important fact to remember when talking about bridges into genre's or hobbies that may otherwise be deemed "uncool". So, I feel that the likes of Rusby, Dillon, The Unthanks serve the same kind of purpose within folk. I also know plenty of older folkies who enjoy their interpretations of songs as much as they do Nora Cleary and Liz Jefferies.

"The "bridges" tend to supplant rather than popularize the original music. Most people just stick with the "accessible" pap they're fed; they don't go on from Kate Rusby to discover Annie Briggs or Maddy Prior...."

I'm afraid this is simply untrue. I know plenty of people who have discovered artists this way, as well as myself, as mentioned above. Also, I'm not quite sure how you can prove that point. I also know of a particular young singer, who's in a folk rock band, who draws her singing inspiration not just from Rusby and The Unthanks, but also Prior, Tabor, Collins and her vast collection of "The Voice of the People." However, she still remains true to her own voice and, I feel, sings with a purity and dignity worthy of any traditional-lover's approval. She's only twenty one. There aren't many young people on this board to stand up for our tastes, opinions or correct assumptions about our age group, which I feel can misguide the course of topic conversations at times because others are left to speculate without any other kind of voice to present an alternative view. However, I digress.

"And I certainly don't want to see that affectation become dominant in the folk world, particularly since it's directly in opposition to virtually all traditional styles."

I'm sorry, but how do you know how people sang in the 1800's? Also, are you a sailor? A minor, perhaps? A plough boy? Do you graft like the characters in most traditional songs do? Are you a victim of these harsh realities? I don't mean to pry or assume, but I would place some money on you not actually being a sailor or a minor, or a plough boy. Does this mean you should not be able to sing songs written from the point of view of such characters? Should you just leave them alone and save them for the people that are? This would be truly traditional, would it not? But then tradition would quickly decline of course. My point is that to highlight traditions, to bring them to life or educate others about them, they need not be pure, but a fair representation of the words. I agree that there are some singers who do not justify this but all of the top contemporaries I know, do.

Besides, sometimes it's just nice to hear a lovely, pretty voice sing lovely melodies with feeling, emotion and guts- whether that voice be the strength and brute of Lal Waterson or the girly husky sweet timbre of Kate Rusby.

By the way, Artful Codger, my post is not a personal attack on you by any means, and my post isn't addressed solely at you, it's just your post is the one that stood out for me to argue against (which can only be a good thing!), so I hope you don't take any of what I've said personally or with offence.


Sinéad.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: janemick
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 03:04 PM

Hey! I used to sing with a weak 'head' voice, till I suddenly 'changed gear' during a Strawhead concert.
I think that at school I was always expected to sing in a key much too high for my normal voice, and this came to seem normal. Only when I tried singing in a key much lower than this, with lowered inhibitions (couldn't hear myself think) allowed me to find a much lower, stronger voice. This meant that my husband Pete had to change all his harmonies, but hey!

We are singing with a couple of friends now, and have managed to get Carol to use her chest voice too, so she sings with a much stronger sound. I'm sure most women need to try singing much lower than most do. Try using the voice that you would use to communicate with someone across a large, windy courtyard! regards Jane Mickelborough


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 03:12 PM

kate rusby is folk music,
is that relevant
but is she a good singer,she certainly has a tuneful voice,but does that make her a good singer,personally i find her good on some and not good on others.,i find her variable


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 03:33 PM

"She is, at root, a plain Sussex women".

I agree that she is plural, but not that she's plain. Even in her 70s she's beautiful. And her lecturing voice is just like her singing voice.

Voices for coises; Shirley's voice is fine for telling a story or a lyrical ballad, and a voice that could drown out a trad jazz band is no good for that kind of stuff.

What puts me off is falseness: pseudo- mystic Seltic twilight echo machine (complete with low whistle), deep Lancashire doing nonspecific American, blokes with whisky beards who'd have yez believe they're from Dubalin when you know they're from Solihull. As for Anne Briggs's attempt at t'northern deealect, ecky thump lad.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 03:44 PM

"As for Anne Briggs's attempt at t'northern deealect, ecky thump lad."

Try this instead: Icky Thump Just a pity Sis' who bangs the drums ain't also singing.. Tho' on a tangent to gurl singers how about this modern miss: That's not my name

Hey, all I'm saying is these breathy folk lasses, they ain't singing in my name! Gimme some woman with attitude pleeze ;-)

Sinead, just having a wee random moment - I'll get back to your post later.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 04:36 PM

My feeling with traditional song has always been that the singer is the vehicle and the song is the message. For me, effective singing of traditional song involves a very low display of ego on the part of the performer. Everything that deviates attention from enjoyment of the song is a distraction.

Every time the singer does something to obscure the enjoyment of a song or to disrupt the flow of the story in a ballad then they are doing a disservice to it. So every time we are aware that the singer is trying to project the message, "Listen to what a lovely voice I have and what I can do with it" rather than "Listen to these lovely words and how well they are enhanced by the melody" then something is wrong. (I ought to emphasise that this is my opinion for singers of traditional songs - for jazz singers, crooners, rock belters, soul divas etc. the values are clearly different.)

So, every time we become aware of the singer using vocal tricks and mannerisms rather than being aware of the unfolding of the song, then the value of that performance is reduced. This applies to the breathy girliness of this thread but also to a mass of other vocal devices and tonal and diction aberrations that are prevalent throughout the folk scene's practitioners.

This is not to say that that decorating a melody is not appropriate; of course it is, but we can't all have the vocal control of Paddy Tunney and his ilk, so listen carefully to yourself very critically.... if it does not come out naturally then cut it out. You are not helping the song and that is the prime consideration in all of this.

I am reminded once again of the closing section of a long obituary that I wrote about Bob Copper in 2004:-

I'd like to finish with something that Bob said to me around twenty years ago now, but which has stuck in my mind ever since. I was interviewing him, yet again, and this time it was for an article that I was writing on 'Competitions and Folk Music'. Bob had recently been judging the folk singing competition at the Sidmouth Festival. I was outlining the song competition regulations that were given to the judges at the Fleadh Ceol in Ireland and at the traditional singing competitions organised by the T.M.S.A. in Scotland – awarding marks for style, delivery, intonation, choice of material, etc. Bob looked a bit uncomfortable when I was going through this and then he said, "You know, Vic, learning one of the old songs is a bit like renting or buying a house. You can make a few changes to it, decorate it in the way that suits you, but it also brings a responsibility. You must make sure that it is kept in good order for the next person that you pass it on to… That was what I was looking for when I was judging those singers." That is what Bob did in more than eighty years with his family's rich cultural heritage. That is what we all should be doing.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 04:48 PM

anne briggs was born in nottinghamshire,so whats this crap about not knowing northern dialect and when has she attempted to sing in anything Other than her nottingham accent.
sorry,I disagree Shirley Collins is not [IMO]a particularly good singer of ballads,
But she is good at Siussex songs and certain lyrical songs JUST AS THE TIDE, DABBLIN IN THE DEW, CLAUDY BANKs etc.
Some people talk complete claptrap.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:47 PM

I'm no expert on this but I think Vic's post above hits the nail on the head. This isn't about focus on the voice but more about the singer telling the story with a voice that irresistibly draws us in. I've just been listening to a Delia Murphy album (purchased as a result of reading a recent thread here!)and her voice just makes you listen to the words and there's not a trace of strain or affectation (though quite a lot of wry raising of a knowing metaphorical eyebrow!). Deliberately breathy/cod-ethereal singing, or the addition of "effects" to recordings, merely puts a veil between the song and the listener. That's fine with brainless pop lyrics but it don't do it for me in folk songs. It's the song, not the singer. And, though my dabblings are mostly Irish traditional music, I happen to be a bit of a Shirley Collins completist and, to me, she's peerless. There's a place on the Etchingham Steam Band album (not my favourite by a long chalk) where she does a bit of banter before launching into a song, and there's something incredibly seamless about the move from chat into song. What you hear is Shirley Collins unadorned and you can then forget it's her and listen to the story. I'll bet that's exactly what she wanted.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 07:56 PM

even though she doesn't sing anymore, her speaking voice still sends shivers up my spine

This gives me a vision of fans engaging Shirley C. in conversation and trying to trick her into speaking some of those lines...

Fan: "I do love the Blacksmith, but I can never remember the first line for some reason... 'a blacksmith haunted me', no, that can't be right..."
SC: You mean, A blacksmith courted me, nine months or better...?
Fan: "Oh yes, of course. And that other one's good too, 'it's forty-nine winters since she was a bride'..."


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 08:07 PM

Was watching a fill-in (pop) video on TV with a breathy young female - and realised that technically, the video MUST be mimed - cause there is no way to get that distance of shot if she needs to sing close up to a microphone - so then, how can she NOT mime all her 'live' concerts? :-)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 10:27 PM

Head voice does NOT have to be breathy!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: matt milton
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 04:00 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCuurQzR1iU&feature=related

here's some footage of Cath Tyler. She's a proper singer.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 04:11 AM

"Was watching a fill-in (pop) video on TV with a breathy young female - and realised that technically, the video MUST be mimed.."

I assume that pop videos are almost always mimed.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 04:22 AM

Hi Sinead, thanks for more perspective from a younger folk audience. You're 17, I'm twenty years your senior, so I'm not in the loop with music in the way I might have been as a teenager. What I'd be curious to know, is what *other* current female singers you really like - current female singers who *don't* sing folk? Women from pop & rock genres etc?

Though I'm not going to be as up to date as you by a very long straw, if I think of 'modernish' female artists I like, they would include singers like Bjork, Alison Goldfrapp, Polly Harvey, Katie White (from the Ting Tings above), Shirley Manson, Roisin Murphy etc. I think it's far harder for female artists to rise to the top of the pile and female artists who don't embody certain stereotypes in particular. And while not all of the artists I cited represent 'belting' voices, they all (to me) are possessed of a unique dynamic presence and potency that I really appreciate. With that in mind, perhaps you might better understand my personal struggle with the preponderance of effete or girlish female folky singers we find representing the genre to a wider audience?

So, by way of comparison, maybe you could indulge me and throw us some names of current non-folk female singers (whether solo or fronting bands) that I won't know, so I can look them up. That'd really help me get a hang on your tastes more broadly?

And more particularly, it might help me to understand what it is that 'bridges the gap' for you, and for others of your generation?


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 04:58 AM

"Was watching a fill-in (pop) video on TV with a breathy young female - and realised that technically, the video MUST be mimed - so then, how can she NOT mime all her 'live' concerts?"

Of course pop videos are mimed, they have to be - they're promoting the song's studio-recorded version, as that's what's being marketed.

Doesn't follow at all that the artist's live concerts will be mimed! that's another product entirely.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 05:00 AM

CS - Gimme some woman with attitude pleeze ;-)

I've posted this before but why not again: Esma Redzepova- Szelem Szelem

There ya go!

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 05:21 AM

Vic, thank you for a post that so clearly sets out what the tradition (in song) is about - in my opinion. I've sat in companies where songs have been shared, and it's those singers who give the songs that are meaningful and important to them who have the most effect and who command the most respect.
If a song is only chosen as a demonstration of technique - whether that be the breathy (sexy?) wispy vocals of some of the current singers, or the endless whirlings of the Mariah Carey wannabes who lose all sense of melody never mind content - it could never please me as much as a song delivered in a less-than-perfect voice from a singer who knows exactly what that song is about.
And if I could pick up a point from another post, I'd like to plead for singers (and not just the younger ones) to consider the balance of their repertoire - by all means, choose songs that you like, but try to find a bit of variety too. If you're attracted to songs of love and relationships, try to find a mixture that will include some pacy songs, a chorus now and again, some dark wrist-slitters and the odd bit of knockabout farce as well as the beautifully melodious. If you can do all of that, you'll find a very grateful audience!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 09:08 AM

Can I echo EKanne's thanks to Vic.
"You know, Vic, learning one of the old songs is a bit like renting or buying a house. You can make a few changes to it, decorate it in the way that suits you, but it also brings a responsibility. You must make sure that it is kept in good order for the next person that you pass it on to… That was what I was looking for when I was judging those singers"
should be framed and hung on the wall of every folk club.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 09:38 AM

This thread has cued an interest in female folk singer songwriters. So I did a google search and cannot find a comprehensive list of aforementioned. There are spatterings here and there, most starting the Joni Mitchell and ending with Ani DiFranco.

Should there be a thread about that? Maybe a permathread actually that provides names and background info. Maybe organised by country of origin and then by circa dates.

Just a thought.

I'd have some names to add - Devon Sproule, Jan Smith (USA), and Haruko (Germany) to start.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: theleveller
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 10:04 AM

"should be framed and hung on the wall of every folk club. "

Probably ending with "abandon hope all ye who enter here"


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 10:13 AM

or every singer should be framed and hung on the wall,preferably by their testicles so that they sing in a high weak breathy voice.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: EnglishFolkfan
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 10:24 AM

I read this well written review of The Unthanks, Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell live in Dublin by SIOBHÁN LONG for the Irish Times online this morning and immediately thought it had relevance to this thread because it discusses the Folk voice and song:

Irish Times 30mar10

I hadn't dared mention the Unthank sisters on here before because I knew what adverse comments would arise. I have heard them in both acoustic small setting and in vast Festival tents and (possibly because I like the NE England accent esp in song) always enjoy their live performances (which, please note EFKanne, does combine a good variety of songs) as well as their CD's.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 10:25 AM

oferfuxache ... cut it out. too friggin much testosterone in this fred.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 10:28 AM

"should be framed and hung on the wall of every folk club. "

Won't that just encourage everyone to join in and have a really good time!







It would be hung next to the Brownies, W.I. and Carpet Bowls notice boards in our case!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 10:42 AM

The Unthanks are flavour of the week in the Irish Tines it seems, this is Saturday's interview . Not sure though what to think about seeing Siobhan Long and well-written mentioned in one sentence.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 12:27 PM

Just throwing this into the mix.. Google Images of some of the "weak, breathy, girly" artists cited on this thread by others (both those who like and dislike this vocal style) plus others from searches for "pageant girl", "victorian doll", "fairy child" etc.

Image No' 1 Image No' 2 Image No' 3 Image No' 4 Image No' 5 Image No' 6 Image No' 7 Image No' 8 Image No' 9


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Villan
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 12:39 PM

Beautiful song, beautiful singer.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PZDD_Zt6MA

Very nice natural lady with a very nice song
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZkjrgS_lKY&feature=related

Seen these live, enjoyed them very much, talked to em and they are really nice people
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7RaSoe435s&feature=related

I think a lot of you are so blinkered in your tastes of music. Not everybody agrees with you. I for one.

We all have our likes and dislikes. Why can't you learn to encompass and accept that Folk is wide reaching and so varied.

Enjoy what you like and stop criticising others.

There is room for everybody in this world.

Peace to you all


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 12:46 PM

"Enjoy what you like and stop criticising others."

Yes, please. Some of us are simply asking that we be allowed to discuss something, without being criticised for simply wanting to have that discussion likewise.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 01:10 PM

Fellow Scouser:
Sorry, I missed your posting
"Where do they get these people?"
Where do they get them is right - one of the reasons I'm not happy with competition singing or playing.
I understand that some of the early revivalists broke with EFDSS in the early days of the revival because the Society organised a competition where they put young, 'in their prime' singers up against elderly source singers like George Maynard, and then pontificated publicly on the rights and wrongs of the singing.
In my opinion there is a great confusion on what we learn from our older singers.
Songs, certainly, but no young, or even middle-aged singer in their right mind wants to sound like an octogenarian East Anglian (especally if they come from Brum or The Pool).
This doesn't mean that there is nothing to learn about technique from them.
The two things I have noticed as being the difference between traditional singers and many revival singers relates to phrasing and tone.
The older singers tend to sing in speech patterns, breathing with the commas and full stops where possible and in this way maintaining the sense of the narrative. Clare singer Tom Lenihan went into some detail on this subject explaining how you had to "keep the sense of the story". He demonstrated how, when this wasn't always possible because of how the words lay with the tune, he would use short humming sounds "when there weren't enough words to fit the tune". - a fairly common device among Irish singers in general. He summed it up as "Sing the words as you would speak them".
Many revival singers, on the other hand, adopt what we used to call four square singing; breaking words up - best example I can think of is Liv-er-pool instead of Liverpool.
The other difference is that most traditional singers pitch their singing around where they pitch their speaking voice.
All this makes perfect sense to me when you consider the Irish "Say a song" rather than "Sing a song".
Just listen to Sam Larner singing 'Butter and Cheese and All'; he always interjected a bit of speech after the penultimate line:

"The dogs they barked, the children screamed, out ran the old women and all ("And you know what they are, don't you?" (spoken).

It is always a part rather than an interruption of the narrative - you can't see the join.
Jim Carroll
PS Sorry CS - not sure if all this is relevant to your question - a hobby horse of mine.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 01:20 PM

"PS Sorry CS - not sure if all this is relevant to your question"

No prob Jim, it feels like this thread has already helped me pretty well towards finding an answer (or answers) to my initial question. Others will come to their own conclusions, no doubt they will be quite different to mine. I'm still unsure about how I *feel* about some of the things this thread has brought up though.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 01:22 PM

Enjoy what you like and stop criticising others.
quote villan.
this comes from the man who takes his ball away,and wont discuss,when someone disagrees with his valuation of Emil Heskey as a footballer.
Villan you are pretty free with your criticisms of Heskey,I happen to enjoy watching him,even when he cocks it up.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 01:30 PM

Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: EnglishFolkfan - PM
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 10:24 AM

I read this well written review of The Unthanks, Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell live in Dublin by SIOBHÁN LONG for the Irish Times online this morning and immediately thought it had relevance to this thread because it discusses the Folk voice and song:

Irish Times 30mar10

I hadn't dared mention the Unthank sisters on here before because I knew what adverse comments would arise. I have heard them in both acoustic small setting and in vast Festival tents and (possibly because I like the NE England accent esp in song) always enjoy their live performances (which, please note EFKanne, does combine a good variety of songs) as well as their CD's
   feel free to enjoy who you like,some folks liked the new christy minstrels,some folks like the Unthanks ,some like Peter Pears singing folk songs,it takes all sorts,now I like the Wilson family[who also have a NE england accent].


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 01:34 PM

"abandon hope all ye who enter here"
Of course I didn't mean the suggestion seriously, but I certainly don't think it does any harm to remind people occasionally - especially those who keep telling us that the old stuff has had its day and it's time we cleared the stage for the Young Lions - wonder where Bob Copper would have fitted into all that.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 02:03 PM

I'll continue to watch this thread - am especially interested in what curve-balls Sinead might throw me - but I think I probably don't need to post here any further. Meanwhile I've started another thread here: Female Folk Vocalists of Distinction inviting all to post names an YouTubes if possible of striking, characterful and individualistic female voices in folk. If you feel that any of the names that have been mentioned here in the "Weak, Breathy, Girly" category belong there too, please feel free to post away ;-)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Villan
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 02:09 PM

What has Heskey got to do with this thread Dick Miles and stop flaming.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 02:10 PM

He summed it up as "Sing the words as you would speak them".
Many revival singers, on the other hand, adopt what we used to call four square singing; breaking words up - best example I can think of is Liv-er-pool instead of Liverpool.


I've been practising The Holland Handkerchief for a while, & realised today that I was singing the word 'squire' with the accent on the second syllable -

A wealthy squi-ER lived in our town...

And a couple of lines later, singing 'daughter' with as much weight on the second syllable as the first -

He had one Daugh, Ter, of beauty bright

Totally unnatural. Habits like that are hard to break, but I think it's worth a try.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 04:00 PM

"Habits like that are hard to break"
Tell me about it - I have more or less abandoned my favourite song 'Go To Sea Once More' because of the four-square way I learned it in the sixties.
I had some little success with speaking the lines but have never got round to doing enough work on it to solve it completely.
Will put it on my 'One Hundred Songs To Sing Before You Die' list.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Sinéad
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 04:18 PM

CS, with regards to your earlier question, I have to say I don't listen to a lot of other music genres that have female singers, although here are some:

Gwen Stefani of No Doubt.
Bjork, also.
I think Shania Twain has a good voice, but cheesy music.
Mindy Smith.
Joni Mitchell.
Billie Holiday.
I really like Shakira's voice, but not her music.
Julie London.
Aretha Franklin.
Amy Lee of Evanscence.
Eva Cassidy.
Alela Diane.
Adele.
Laura Marling (a really amazing songwriter).
Sinéad O'Connor (no, that's not me!)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: EnglishFolkfan
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 04:20 PM

Good Soldier Schweik - Yeay The Wilsons love 'em, singalongathem every year at Shrewsbury Folk Festival (my local) they are ever returning stalwarts, but 1st heard them back in their own patch many more years ago when I lived there for a few years. Now they have young Lasses with good voices, daughters, whom I hope will be less bashful this year & join in too.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 04:27 PM

Shirley Collins and Davie Graham were on Mike Harding tonight doing "Nottamun Town". While her voice may be an acquired taste, I would never describe it as weak and breathy - for a start, I can bear listening to her, and as I said above, if a "girly" voice starts singing I switch off (in both senses) immediately.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Crowsister
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 05:37 PM

Cheers Sinead, your list reads as quite an enigma. On the one hand you have some really strong older singers from other genres there, and on the other some more arguably tender/fey young singer/songwriters working in a folkish style. It seems to describe a similar disconnect as I see between modern popular female folk artists and earlier revival singers. From your list, I note you don't really cite anyone really young who is cutting edge or dynamic. So the "bridge" you are describing between "contemporary and traditional" is essentially the same as other posters have suggested, ie: one between introspective singer/songwriters who have come to dominate the folk genre, and traditional material itself. In a sense what we could say is this describes an ouroborus like snake circling around and finding its own tail. You, and others too, argue that this is a worthy thing. And maybe it is.. Who am I to disagree? But as a token feminist, believer in strong female role models, and not to mention a new-born traddy, it leaves me decidedly confuddled and uncertain as to what I feel about it all..

My thanks for your input however. Hope to see more of your posts around here in future :)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: TheSnail
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 07:24 PM

GUEST,Crowsister

introspective singer/songwriters who have come to dominate the folk genre

I think this may be a local phenomonen. It's not something I've noticed.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Janie
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 08:06 PM

If this thread is intended only for the UK, I haven't a clue, and ignore my following comment.

I can not think of any well known and currently performing female USA folk singer with a "breathy, girly voice." Among regionally (East Coast) or locally (Piedmont area of North Carolina) female folk singers, and those that I know who sing "just for fun", I can't think of any who would match that description. I also don't think any one type, style, etc. has come to dominate what we in the USA would consider to be "the folk genre" - as broad and eclectic as that "genre" is.

Witness the nomination of the Utah Phillips tribute album, "Singing Through the Hardtimes", for a Grammy as best traditional folk album of the year.    That was certainly the closest category in which to consider it, but while many of us on Mudcat would call it folk, most of us would not call it "traditional." But Charlie Poole (The Charlie Poole Project won the nomination) would also not meet most of our definitions of traditional, since we tend to think of trad. as being ballads whose roots can be traced to ballads in the UK.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Genie
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 08:45 PM

Poppagator, I too was surprised to see Judy Collins mentioned in the same breath as "weak breathy girly vocals." Judy, I believe, is classically trained and does not always, or even usually, sing in "head voice," plus she has pretty powerful vocals when called for. Listen to her rendition of "Pirate Jenny," for just one example.

Loreena McKinnit (sp?) does have a rather ethereal vocal style, but I think it fits the songs she sings.   I don't really mind that style any more than I mind the gritty, gravelly voice of Steve Earle or Greg Brown or any blues singer. I certainly don't think powerhouse vocals and a bellowing style are either necessary or even ideal for all types of songs. (I love Eartha Kitt's voice, for example!)

I also love the kind of thing Sarah McLachlan (sp?) does so superbly with her voice. Again, it's neither necessary nor even desirable for everything (sea chanteys, e.g.), but it's very appropriate and effective for many songs.

Oh, and I don't equate "breathy" with "weak" necessarily.

I have to admit I'm not very familiar with Shirley Collins and some others mentioned here, but I do wonder why the big to-do about breathy singers.   JMO

Genie


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Crowsister
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 03:41 AM

"It's not something I've noticed."

Snail, I'm not referring to the club circuit which arguably exists independently, but to the popular music scene - the stuff that's successful and that sells. If anyone doubts that "folk" hasn't morphed into a word basically meaning introspective acoustic singer/songwriter music by a sensitive youth, I'm not going to try to convince them (however before I discovered traditional song/music, that's more or less what it meant to me).

Arguably however modern popular trad. folk artists such as the women that have been discussed here, could be altering that and restoring the original meaning of the term to the public understanding, right now. Albeit piggy backing so to speak, on certain conventions of styling and presentation to be found in popular acoustic singer/songwriter musics. Sinead and others have argued that, that can only be a good thing for traditional music. And perhaps they are correct at that.

As to our US cousins posting, yes perhaps it is a phenomenon more specific to the UK trad. folk scene - the successful and more visible side of it at least.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: theleveller
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 03:43 AM

"wonder where Bob Copper would have fitted into all that."

I suspect, exactly where everyone else fits in. Some would love him, others wouldn't. Respect and personal taste don't always go hand in hand.

To extend the 'house' analogy (from someone who has spent a large part of his life restoring and renovating houses), yes, respect and understand what you're working with but, in order to live there you have to bring it up to modern standards and that means installing electricity, plumbing and sanitation, heating, maybe building an extension - and somewhere along the way compromises will always have to be made and personal taste taken into consideration.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Crowsister
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 03:45 AM

Oops, forgot that I had intended not to refresh this thread (sorry Tam!) as there are other threads nudging to come in on associated topics - and this one has run it's course for me. Been a jolly interesting discussion though, thanks to some well reasoned postings. I'm glad it didn't turn into a pie throwing contest ;-)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 03:53 AM

I don't have a problem with singers in a high register. The problem for me is that some of these singers, particularly the breathier ones, lack an "edge" to their voice. Without that edge, the words can be harder to make out - I don't think it's a matter of poor diction. The result is a beautiful sound which fails to get the song across. For folk music, the song is more important than the voice.

The other difficulty I have is that these voices often lack a range of vocal colour. I may be able to listen to one or two songs, but after a while it palls, no matter how beautiful the tonal quality of the voice.

There are plenty of female singers in a high register who do have that edge and can add colour to their voice. However their currently seems to be a fashion amongst the younger generation of female singers in the UK for the other kind of voice - a beautiful tone, in most cases, but all too often lacking in character and most importantly obscuring the song.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 03:54 AM

"Folk" has undergone the same sort of nonsense 'industry' processing that "Punk" underwent...


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: mattkeen
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 04:04 AM

Not really

There was money in punk


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 04:45 AM

"I suspect, exactly where everyone else fits in. Some would love him, others wouldn't."
Not a question of taste - just one of one music being asked to'roll over' (which would include Bob and his contemporariies) to clear the stage for another. Patronising attitudes towards those some would replace doesn't make up for the chaos that now exists.
Your 'house' analogy is a little reminiscent of knocking down the Georgian and Victorian houses and putting up multi-story and office blocks, which some prefer, (while having respect for the previous ones they replaced, of course!)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 07:47 AM

It's not just confined to UK singers - it seems to be quite prevalant in the States too, not just in "folk" but also in country. I was quite disappointed a couple of years ago when Rennie Sparks (Handsome Family) used the voice for a song when she normally sings in a much fuller fashion.

My main objections are that I think we should be preserving the musical techniques of the various traditions, not just the basic songs and tunes, and also, if someone starts doing a "girly" thing to me, I feel I'm being manipulated.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 07:53 AM

"if someone starts doing a "girly" thing to me, I feel I'm being manipulated. "

Manipulate me! Please!   :-)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: theleveller
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 08:15 AM

"Your 'house' analogy is a little reminiscent of knocking down the Georgian and Victorian houses and putting up multi-story and office blocks, which some prefer"

Blimey, if that's what you think I'm glad I've never used you to install electrical wiring in any of the houses I've restored:-)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 11:55 AM

Replacing folk music with something that bears no resemblence to the original either in form or function and apparently is indefinable, if the silences following requests for an alternative definition is anything to go by, is demolition, not restoration - as I said 'Barry Bucknelled'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: JHW
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 07:46 AM

In the old days folk apprentices, if they were to survive, had to make it on the club circuit where a clear and projected voice was essential for the face to face audience. Now I fear there is too much reliance, straight out of college, on staging and PA and studio skills.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Tootler
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 04:03 PM

Jim Carroll wrote

Replacing folk music with something that bears no resemblence to the original either in form or function and apparently is indefinable, if the silences following requests for an alternative definition is anything to go by, is demolition, not restoration - as I said 'Barry Bucknelled'.

People have suggested alternative definitions elsewhere, but you have always pooh-pooed them.

Anyway this thread is not about definition but about performance.

The likes of Kate Rusby, The Unthanks and others have been bringing folk music to a wider audience, but do we congratulate them. No, it seems there is nothing but wingeing about them.

Whatever you may think of their voices, and that is a matter of personal taste, and in case you hadn't noticed they are singing Traditional songs for the most part so what's wrong with that?

What's with the "demolition, not restoration" and "Barry Bucknelled". You seem to be endlessly negative about folk music at the current time when there is a lot to be positive about.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 04:16 PM

"People have suggested alternative definitions elsewhere, "
Where as there been a working alternative definition offered - you have been noticably shy in offering one?
As far as I'm concerned it is the de-defining of folk music that poses the greatest threat to its future.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Crowsister
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 04:30 PM

"but do we congratulate them. No, it seems there is nothing but wingeing about them."

No offense Tootler, but as this is an internet forum for the discussion of folk music, this thread represents a perfectly valid topic for discussion. And different people have expressed different opinions, as is hopefully to be desired in any such discussion. There are contributions from those have made exactly the same points that you made in your last post, and they have argued them well and in detail. Lots of well reasoned posts here, offering a variety of opinions on the subject. Take another look.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Tootler
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 05:38 PM

No offense taken, Crowsister.

I was certainly not suggesting that the topic of this thread was inappropriate for this forum, but simply that this was not a place to get into another discussion on the definition of folk music but rather that this thread was essentially about performance styles, which I still maintain it is. While I did want to respond to the comment about offering a (or otherwise) an alternative definition, I did not really want to contribute more than minimally to thread drift.

My main point, however badly put, that despite suggestions to the contrary folk music in England is actually in a fairly healthy state. Alright there is nothing to be complacent about but there is a new generation coming through who are singing and playing Traditional music and are doing an excellent job. I have also noticed that recently the numbers at singaround nights in one local folk club I go to have been going up recently and while they may not always be youngsters, they are new to folk music and I see that as a healthy thing.

Back to the topic of the thread, I admit that I am not particularly keen on the type of girly voice that seems to be popular in some quarters at the moment but others seem to like it, judging by the positive comments being made on some U-Tube videos I have been looking at recently. I much prefer Eliza Carthy to Kate Rusby, for example, but that is a matter of personal taste. This particular style of singing is, IMO, simply current fashion and will likely change in time.

BTW, if you want to see breathy vocals in spades, watch Songs of Praise on BBC TV on a Sunday evening. They often have young women singers singing in that style, usually on soft focus, floaty videos. My wife likes the programme, but it grates with me at one level, but I also find it interesting in a "stop it I like it" kind of way.

At the end of the day, I subscribe to Martin Carthy's view that the worst thing you can do to traditional songs is not to sing them.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 09:28 PM

Crow Sister, You asked Sinead:

Quote:"Though I'm not going to be as up to date as you by a very long straw, if I think of 'modernish' female artists I like, they would include singers like Bjork, Alison Goldfrapp, Polly Harvey, Katie White (from the Ting Tings above), Shirley Manson, Roisin Murphy etc. ......

So, by way of comparison, maybe you could indulge me and throw us some names of current non-folk female singers (whether solo or fronting bands) that I won't know, so I can look them up. " Unquote.

I'm a bit older than you (mid 50s!) but I go to a lot of non-folk gigs, usually to see new/ emerging bands and artistes who are a bit "off" mainstream. I'd agree with most of your list above, except Katie White...I consider the "Ting Tings" to be a "manufactured" band. At the time that iconic photo of Katie with the guitar slung on her back was being "pushed" and they were being "bigged up" in NME, she couldn't play a note on it!

I'd rather see newer artistes in small venues than go to stadiums to see re-treads of Cream, Pink floyd or The Who 40 years on....I have my memories of them from that period and prefer to keep them "young and shiny"....as well as being interested in what's going on today.

There are loads of good female vocalists out there, and a lot of bands that have all, or predominantly, female members. I think it's even harder for females who play (as well as sing) in bands to make it into the mainstream. Probably 30-40% of the unsigned bands I see live contain a significant female instrumental presence, but very few make it onto radio.

A powerful female vocalist I like is Tarja Turunen...not new on the scene, as she was fronting the metal band "Nightwish" in the early to mid 2000s:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=yEupDujaoBY

From the mid 2000s I also like to hear Helen Marnie of Ladytron:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-w0nweTB1E&feature=related

Kate Jackson of The Long Blondes (who broke up a year or so ago when their lead guitarist had a stroke aged about 30) also has a good voice, IMO, but the YouTube clips I've seen are all pretty crappy, and the release of "Giddy Stratospheres" (about the 4th remix) which eventually had some chart success is by far the worst. The original "rough" unsigned demo version sounds much fresher, and is probably still lurking somewhere on the "Filthy Little Angels" website (it's a music label, not kiddie porn!!!!)

I love Regine Chassagne's voice (Arcade Fire) but Win Butler gets most of the vocals....so she's really under-utilised vocally in the band.


"Quirky" female bands I enjoy seeing live include:

Ipso Facto (Rosie Cunningham on vocals and lead guitar):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=ygtkrkyHcrI&feature=related

Smoke Fairies (Jessica Davies & Katherine Blamire)

Leila & I (Connie Chamberlayne and Leila Macfie)

Not great vocalists, but young women musicians out there doing their own thing in the pubs and clubs and not giving a damn about being pre-packaged or fitting into mainstream expectations, and actually entertaining people with their own material.

I've stayed away from the "folkie" ones in this post, but I do like Beth Gibbins' voice when she (all too infrequently) lets it rip, and TTL is moving firmly away from folk now.

BTW: just because you're in your 30s doesn't mean you can't be "up to date". I often tell my kids that I've seen such-and-such a band, for them later to either get a "cult" following or to break into the mainstream. OK, I'm often one of the oldest people at a gig, but it doesn't bother me, and I've often had very positive comments from youngsters. Not only that, but so many of the newer bands release at least *some* of their stuff on vinyl that it's given my turntable a new lease of life :-)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 10:42 PM

"Barry Bucknelled" - it would be very interesting to know how many people know what this means (I do) - it's an age thing!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 12:27 AM

yes i do,wasnt he a d.i.y. man


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Crowsister
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 02:53 AM

Rob, no I know one doesn't *have* to be ignorant of new music just because one gets older, but many of us go that way. I have anyway. With that caveat in mind, I still tend to think it's always been difficult for independent non-packaged female artists to get support from the music industry. And one of the reasons I find the current trend for girlier vocalists in traditional folk disappointing, is that previously strong female artists were the norm. For me, I see this as a decidedly backwards step. Though I respect the views of others here who support their work.

Otherwise, here's some words from Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth): Kool Thing

"Kool Thing let me play it with your radio
Move me, turn me on, baby-o
I'll be your slave
Give you a shave
I don't wanna, I don't think so
I don't wanna, I don't think so

Yeah, tell'em about it,
hit'em where it hurts
Hey, Kool Thing, come here, sit down
There's something I gotta ask you.
I just wanna know, what are you gonna do for me?
I mean, are you gonna liberate us girls
From male white corporate oppression?
Tell it like it is!
Huh?
Yeah!"


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Crowsister
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 03:35 AM

And here she is on stage, in her mid fifties now: Kim Gordon
Respect!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 11:11 AM

"Barry Bucknelled"
Thanks for the reminder Jim.
Barry Bucknell was indeed a pioneer of D.I.Y. - his philosophy being tear down the old and put in the new. He demonstrated at great length how to get rid of those unsightly Victorian and Georgian panelled doors and turned bannister rails by nailing sheets of plywood over them. Or those ugly 'egg-and-dart cornices and cast ceiling roses - And those hideous stained glass door panels - "where's me hammer"?
Pretty much the philosophy of those who tell us that the old songs and styles of singing have had their day and we have to make way for the new crowd.
No objection whatever to experimentation with song (no, I don't 'whinge' about them; they don't interest me particularly - I've seen too many of them come and go).
My objection is when it is described as 'the future' - if it is, then folk song has no future; such past 'experiments' have proved this.
The strength of folk song lies in its ability to travel in space and time without losing its function - to record and communicate our lives and experiences in an entertaining and moving fashion. Destroy that and you've destroyed folk song.
By the way - yes, this is a thread-drift though I believe an inevitable one as it is so much a part of what many of us are about.
It's interesting to see how some people participate in such drifts willingly then cry 'foul' when they find they've painted themselves into a corner.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 12:09 PM

Contributing further to thread drift in another direction I'm afraid...

"I know one doesn't *have* to be ignorant of new music just because one gets older, but many of us go that way"

For me, I've become less tolerant of the radio DJs - where do you guys listen to this music, where it's treated seriously and where I'm not expected to care about celeb "news" etc?

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: theleveller
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 12:12 PM

Jim, of course, is deliberately misrepresenting my 'restoration' analogy, as he well knows, but pedantry is always the enemy of reality. When I restore a house, I take something that has been rejected by previous owners who no longer see the charm in it and prefer to move on to something more modern. (Pretty much like the songs he collects.) I then make it habitable by bringing it up to modern standards (plumbing, sanitation, electricity, etc) whilst, at the same time, restoring the original fabric, putting back the original features that have been destroyed and, when I need to build an extension, I use reclaimed materials or have them made to exactly match the originals. At the same time I put my own personality into the building as previous generations have. The result? A building that has been saved from destruction, has a place in today and which is also uniquely mine. It takes knoweldge, research, time, money and a love of the original. But, then, few people want to live in a crumbling ruin that, left to its own devices, would simply fall down and disappear.

I think you (well, probably not you, Jim) can see how this analogy extends to folk songs.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 12:23 PM

"Jim, of course, is deliberately misrepresenting my 'restoration' analogy,"
Sam Larner to Jim Moray restoration - really?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 12:31 PM

Pete:

"For me, I've become less tolerant of the radio DJs - where do you guys listen to this music, where it's treated seriously and where I'm not expected to care about celeb "news" etc?"

I rarely listen to the (music) radio at all. I just go out to local (or not so local) venues and catch what looks interesting live. I use websites like "Drownedinsound" or "Artrocker" to see what's being said about new bands/ artistes (outside the "folk" genre mainly, of course), visit their websites and listen to some of their tracks to see whether I think it would be worth going along to see them or not. I'm also on the mailing lists of a few venues.

I do listen to Radio 6 Music now and then, but they don't play *that* much "under the commercial radar" stuff. Once I've "homed in" on a band or artiste I then download (paying!) the tracks of theirs that I like and make my own playlists. Or buy their "merch" at a gig.

This seems to be pretty much what youngsters do nowadays (those who are interested in music as more than background noise,anyway). The emphasis is firmly away from radio playlists and very much towards live sessions.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,John
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 12:54 PM

Peoples tastes vary, I like a lot of wishy-washy types. Dolly Parton has a breathy style in her repertoire. She's a big favorite of mine.

If you are looking for a strong, traditional voice try Elizabeth LaPrelle.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 04:03 PM

I remember being totally knocked out by a Dolly Parton version of 'Barbara Allan' which opened with an Irish Gaelic verse and moved into Dolly (with accompaniment) singing a long, full version with complete commitment.
I really felt I was with her in the original family singing of the ballad.... and it was entirely unexpected!
There may have been some breathiness in the performance, but it was infused with a real emotional involvement, so thanks, Dolly!


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 04:59 PM

Seeing as this thread has drifted (as so many do), I'd like to come in on the Barry Bucknell business.

theleveller introduced the "restoration" analogy. Jim then referred to Barry Bucknell as an illustration of "demolition, not restoration". "Pretty much the philosophy of those who tell us that the old songs and styles of singing have had their day and we have to make way for the new crowd."

If a house is in a good state, it doesn't need restoration. If it has been neglected, or modified in inappropriate ways, sensitive refurbishment, restoring as much as possible of the original while satisfying modern requirements, seems entirely appropriate.

So, how does that apply to songs?

If a song has been collected in a dilapidated state, restoration with verses or lines from other versions or from print seems reasonable. If a song is in good shape, there is no need to do anything other than to sing it, but a new singer, like a new house owner, may wish to make some changes according to their personal tastes and requirements, e.g. modern plumbing in the house or using an instrument to support the voice.

Opinions are bound to differ as to how much should be changed and how much should be preserved, but there is a fundamental difference of philosophy between those who try to be faithful to the original character (however successful or unsuccessful they may be in that) and those who take the Barry Bucknell approach, seeing only the need for modernity and obliterating the original character. As far as I can see, Jim and theleveller are on the same side in that.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 03:31 AM

Richard
There is nothing whatever wrong with putting a house/song back into shape by repairing and replacing its original features - we lived in two Mid-Victorian dwellings in London and did exactly that (lovingly restored was what the estate agent put in the blurb when he sold the last one for us).
Nor is there anything 'wrong' with ripping out all the orginal features and replacing them with your own tastes, as long as you recognise that what you are doing is creating something else.
I have no objection to people doing whatever they wish with folk-songs; among my favorite pieces of orchestral music is Butterworth's 'Banks of Green Willow' but I would describe it as having become something else be cause it has shed all the features that made it folk.
I hope that what is happening to folk song in some hands is not its future and that those of us who prefer the older forms have to 'move over and let it happen' (as some have suggested) otherwise our songs have no future as folk.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Ralphie
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 07:04 AM

To expand on the House/Song analogy.
If you buy a house in a state of disrepair and renovate/rebuild/adapt it in a style of your choosing, then the original has in essence been destroyed.
But if you treat a song/tune/dance whatever to the same treatment, no damage is done.
Other people can always return to the original manuscript/recording and make up their own minds.
So, there is no connection between the two.
Some people like to stick with past versions, others whilst appreciating original versions (me included) like to tinker with them too.
Both ways are correct, neither is wrong.
It just seems obvious to me.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 07:41 AM

So you're saying Butterworth's 'Banks of Green Willowe' is still folk music?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Brian May
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 08:09 AM

Wow, finally read it.

WEeeelll . . . if she's singing in my ear, then I'd say 'GO FOR IT GIRL' and be Well satisfied ;o)

Failing that, Maddy Prior is still my yardstick.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Ralphie
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 09:03 AM

Jim.
Define Folk Music Ha Ha!
Butterworth is fine, as are a lot of classical composers who utilised tunes from various traditions.
Bela Bartok for one.
Just drop the "Folk" tag.
It's all music.
If you like some things...Great
If you don't.....Great.
I don't actually care what you like or don't like.
You'd probably say the same to me. Fine. No problem.
Got to go now, and revisit a recording I made of Peta Webb at the old Topic studios nearly 20 years ago.
(bet you wouldn't call her a Weak Breathy Girl would you?)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 10:13 AM

If you want to hear a real (non-weak, non-breathy, non-girly) woman singing see http://www.myspace.com/kathreade


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: PHJim
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 11:15 AM

Richard Bridge wrote:"...but right through to the end of the folk-rock scene there were numbers of strong female singers, whereas now the nuber must be down to the Waterson-Carthies, Maddy Prior and June Tabor: that's about it AFAIK."

Joan Baez is still around, Serena Ryder is hardy a weak singer, Linda Williams has a powerful voice and there are many more powerful female voices on the "Folk" scene today.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: PHJim
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 11:33 AM

Matt Milton said,"The female singer I hear the most in today's singers, well todays 'alternative' acoustic singers anyway, is Karen Dalton. Whenever I hear Alela Diane or Joanna Newsom or Maree Sioux I hear a lot of Karen Dalton in there."

I don't know Alela Diane or Joanna Newsom or Maree Sioux, but if they sound like Karen Dalton, I'm sure I'd love them. I got my first record of Karen's thirty some odd years ago in a bargain bin in Zellers with a hole punched through the corner. I fell in love with her voice and my first wife hated it. My dad, a huge Billie Hoilday fan, also loved her voice. He said,"That girl sounds like the reincarnation of Billie Holiday, if Billie played the banjo."

By the way Richard Bridge, what does AFAIK mean. I assume it's part of the text message language which an old fart like me can't decifer.

lol (Lots Of Love)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 11:38 AM

It means "As Far As I Know". It's been in use on Bulletin Boards for at least 25 years to my knowledge, and before that as telex shorthand.

In fact, many youngsters these days think acronyms and text speak is quaint, since predictive texting, unrestricted message sizes and high bandwidth make it redundant. My own kids type everything in full.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 12:07 PM

"It's all music."
Wasn't the question Ralphie - there again, I expected an evasion.
Jim CVarroll


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,David E.
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 12:16 PM

The ladies are fine but what really makes my skin crawl are weak breathy male vocals. I am hearing way too much of that with the young ones these days. Someone told me it's called "emo" but since I didn't know what AFAIK meant either... (laughing)

David E.


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 05:16 PM

Defining what's "emo" music is as tricky as defining what "folk" is! And it's gone through several incarnations since the mid 80s. Weak breathy male vocals are no more a definition of emo music than playing an acoustic guitar is a definition of folk music :-)


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Subject: RE: Weak Breathy Girly Vocals in Folk?
From: GUEST,Guest -Jon
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 07:16 AM

HORSE ALERT!


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