Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Gender and song singing

GUEST,AnCiotóg 11 Oct 11 - 08:58 AM
WindhoverWeaver 11 Oct 11 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,AnCiotóg 11 Oct 11 - 09:16 AM
matt milton 11 Oct 11 - 09:41 AM
GUEST,AnCiotóg 11 Oct 11 - 09:51 AM
Bonzo3legs 11 Oct 11 - 11:41 AM
Marje 11 Oct 11 - 12:48 PM
Leadfingers 11 Oct 11 - 01:23 PM
Morris-ey 11 Oct 11 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,mg 11 Oct 11 - 01:31 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Oct 11 - 01:56 PM
Bill D 11 Oct 11 - 02:55 PM
Greg B 11 Oct 11 - 04:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Oct 11 - 05:04 PM
Genie 11 Oct 11 - 05:18 PM
JHW 11 Oct 11 - 05:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Oct 11 - 06:06 PM
dick greenhaus 11 Oct 11 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,AnCiotog 11 Oct 11 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,SirCoughsalot 11 Oct 11 - 06:48 PM
Tootler 11 Oct 11 - 07:23 PM
Greg B 11 Oct 11 - 07:30 PM
PHJim 11 Oct 11 - 08:33 PM
whitehound 11 Oct 11 - 09:18 PM
KathyW 11 Oct 11 - 11:06 PM
GUEST,mg 11 Oct 11 - 11:10 PM
Genie 11 Oct 11 - 11:51 PM
CupOfTea 12 Oct 11 - 03:34 PM
tonyteach1 12 Oct 11 - 04:08 PM
GUEST,mg 12 Oct 11 - 04:17 PM
GUEST,Amber 12 Oct 11 - 04:34 PM
Bonzo3legs 12 Oct 11 - 05:14 PM
Genie 12 Oct 11 - 05:33 PM
Herga Kitty 12 Oct 11 - 06:18 PM
Tootler 12 Oct 11 - 07:40 PM
Leadfingers 12 Oct 11 - 07:55 PM
Suegorgeous 12 Oct 11 - 08:45 PM
GUEST,SirCoughsalot 12 Oct 11 - 09:19 PM
Don Firth 12 Oct 11 - 10:04 PM
PHJim 13 Oct 11 - 09:20 AM
tonyteach1 13 Oct 11 - 12:17 PM
Bonzo3legs 13 Oct 11 - 03:39 PM
Anne Lister 13 Oct 11 - 03:47 PM
JHW 13 Oct 11 - 04:10 PM
GUEST,SirCoughsalot 13 Oct 11 - 05:17 PM
Suegorgeous 13 Oct 11 - 08:24 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 13 Oct 11 - 10:45 PM
KathyW 14 Oct 11 - 12:27 AM
PHJim 14 Oct 11 - 02:01 AM
foggers 14 Oct 11 - 05:35 AM
Tootler 14 Oct 11 - 03:58 PM
Bonzo3legs 15 Oct 11 - 09:14 AM
Tootler 15 Oct 11 - 09:33 AM
tonyteach1 15 Oct 11 - 10:20 AM
GUEST,Amber 15 Oct 11 - 10:28 AM
JHW 16 Oct 11 - 05:30 AM
GUEST,Dave (Bridge) 16 Oct 11 - 06:37 AM
Often 17 Oct 11 - 05:31 AM
JHW 17 Oct 11 - 05:40 AM
MGM·Lion 17 Oct 11 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,matt milton 17 Oct 11 - 06:15 AM
GUEST,matt milton 17 Oct 11 - 06:21 AM
GUEST 17 Oct 11 - 06:38 AM
JHW 17 Oct 11 - 04:25 PM
Don Firth 17 Oct 11 - 05:42 PM
Richard Mellish 17 Oct 11 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,leeneia 18 Oct 11 - 01:52 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 26 Oct 12 - 09:32 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 26 Oct 12 - 09:34 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 27 Oct 12 - 03:42 AM
GUEST,Desi C 27 Oct 12 - 10:07 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Oct 12 - 11:14 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,AnCiotóg
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 08:58 AM

I'm wondering what people feel about traditional Irish songs being seen as gender specific? As in, should certain songs only be sung by a woman, and other certain songs be sung by males? I'm currently learning Down Erin's Lovely Lee and it strikes me that it could be seen by some as a song that should be sung by males only. Others I can think of are Cath Chéim an Fhia, though I've heard it sung by both; The Congo Recruit etc. Thoughts?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: WindhoverWeaver
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 09:09 AM

Firstly, why limit it to Irish or traditional songs?

Personally, I have no problems with women singing songs written from a man's point of view or vice versa. Would you have a problem with a storyteller telling a story from 'the other' point of view? Or an author writing about characters of the opposite sex?

Obviously some songs can have the sex changed without too much trouble (I have heard versions of 'the snows they melt the soonest' sung both ways, for instance) but for those songs that can't be changed, at least without doing serious damage to the song, then I'd say go ahead and sing it as is. Seems a bit demeaning to suggest the audience couldn't make the jump along with the singer, at least to me.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,AnCiotóg
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 09:16 AM

Only limiting it to Irish and traditional for myself, as this is what my own interest is. I suppose the reason I bring it up is because the particular song is written about the IRB, Fenianism, and a particular group of men, one of whom is the song's narrator for want of a better word!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: matt milton
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 09:41 AM

It never bothered any of the Irish singers I love: Paddy Tunney, Peg Clancy Power, Sarah Makem or Frank Harte.

You're seriously limiting your repertoire if you only sing songs written for your gender.

The obvious reasons to choose to sing a song are that it has interesting lyrics and/or a great tune. Simple as that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,AnCiotóg
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 09:51 AM

That's what I would have thought, just didn't want to step outside of any boundaries and I can see now I'm not!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 11:41 AM

Neeve Parsons doesn't worry about it!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Marje
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 12:48 PM

Many traditional ballads actually switch narrator or point of view during the course of the song, so it can't have worried traditional singers too much.

I do think that some songs, and some singers, are more suitable for cross-gender performance than others. Perhaps some more modern songs are not so adaptable as the older songs; also, some singers have a very feminine or masculine style of singing that may not suit wrong-gender songs. Personally, I never liked it much when the Dubliners delivered a delicate girl's song in their rough, gravelly style, whereas a sensitive male singer like Frank Harte could make a much better job of it.

But in general if you feel comfortable singing a song, then that's fine, and your listeners will probably feel comfortable too.

Marje


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 01:23 PM

Its far less a problem with Traditional Song - With a lot of more contemporary songs , its a bit more difficult ! I dont think my club audiences would be impressed if I sang Miriam Backhouse's " Lady for Today" though I DO sing a few Humurous songs with a gender tweak - and the introduction "For this song you need to see me as a young lady of tender years"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Morris-ey
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 01:26 PM

Any song can be sung by any gender.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 01:31 PM

I totally agree and please do not change the gender..that icks up songs faster than anything I know. I think that there are some songs traditionally sung by only males or females..One is Danny Boy left for males..I would never sing it. Another is Over the Water to Charlie, sung by females. I am sure males and females sing either but I think it is good to respect the old ways if you know about them and I amsure dozens of people will respond and say women hae always sung Danny Boy etc..I haven't personally heard them in days gone by and this is America and not Ireland but I still respect that tradition. mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 01:56 PM

With songs in or of "the tradition" (various traditions) no problem, but with other genres it can maybe be different. "Stand by your man" sounds different from a male singer. Turns it into a kind of apology.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 02:55 PM

""For this song you need to see me as a young lady of tender years"

I suppose I should have used that when I sang "Three Lovely Lassies from Bannion"...but it did provide a bit of amusement anyway.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Greg B
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 04:25 PM

I will never, ever, ever, sing "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No!"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 05:04 PM

Chicken...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Genie
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 05:18 PM

Well, then, Greg, you'd probably feel odd singing "I Feel Pretty" too.

And I'd feel strange singing a song like "A Boy Named Sue" - because I don't think it would be funny if sung by a woman. But I have no problem singing "The Mountains Of Mourne" or "Flora, The Lily Of The West" or "Long Black Veil" or many other songs where the 'narrator' is obviously male.

But there are also a lot of songs where the gender of the singer can easily be changed, without damage to the song, and sometimes the "traditional" versions (or the most popular versions) have been sung both ways. And, mg, I guess it's just a matter of priorities, but as folk music (and pop music, for that matter) evolves over the years, I don't think it's disrespectful of tradition to change a pronoun or two, or the name of a loved one, to make the song fit your own gender if it doesn't harm the sound of the lyrics or the meaning and feeing of the song.

Another thing I often do is to change a song from first person to third person if it doesn't seem natural for me to sing the song from the male's perspective. I just sing it as a narrator telling a story instead.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: JHW
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 05:42 PM

As Genie I may use 3rd person, 'she' rather than 'I' in Icarus but sometimes the whole feel of the song might change if you swap gender.
So in 'Black is the colour of my true love's hair' I will always sing 'his' and think the song has the strength to make it obvious that its words are being sung by a woman even when I (a man) sing it.
(Careful with 'Bushes and Briars'. I've often heard this song jumbled by attempt to crossdress. Reported speech in the song will quote the same sex as the singer.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 06:06 PM

Mind you even if the words of a love song might make it clear that it's about a man, that needn't imply the singer must be a woman.

It all gets very complicated these days...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 06:21 PM

Whatever works


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,AnCiotog
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 06:35 PM

Judging by all of you guys I think I'll turn myself into a Fenian for a wee bit and dig into Down Erin's Lovely Lee!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,SirCoughsalot
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 06:48 PM

I think it's fine with traditional songs, which are more focused on the story, but modern songs, which tend to be more personal, I wouldn't do. Sara Carter sang songs from a boy's viewpoint. Roscoe Holcomb sang songs from a girl's viewpoint. It doesn't really matter. And if a person's still uncomfortable singing a song from the point of view of the opposite sex, they can just add a verse to the beginning that involves walking out and hearing a girl/boy saying the rest of the song. You see that in a lot of songs like The Frozen Logger, Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya, I Never Will Marry, etc.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 07:23 PM

It depends on the individual song and on the singer rather than whether the it's traditional or modern. Some work, some don't.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Greg B
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 07:30 PM

A good example of a woman's song that seems to work just fine when sung in the first person by a male is this one: this one.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: PHJim
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 08:33 PM

Many singers of both sexes sang House Of The Rising Sun from the point of view of the prostitute. When The Animals did it they changed it to the point of view of the John. All right i guess, but not nearly as effective.
A great anti-war song by Steve Goodman starts,"My name is Penny Evans..."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: whitehound
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 09:18 PM

FWIW my Irish grandmother, who came from the Curragh of Kildare, used to sing Danny Boy in the 1930s and I've always understood it to be a primarily female song. I don't know why it should be a male song in the US.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: KathyW
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 11:06 PM

I like sea chanteys, so I suppose I'm singing "guy songs" all the time. If I like the song, I go ahead and try to sing it. I believe there are some songs that typically sound better when sung by a baritone-- ideally a large bearded one. But doesn't stop me from singing them. :-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 11:10 PM

we were always told it was a father sending his son off to war. mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Genie
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 11:51 PM

Yes, mg, that's what I've read about "Danny Boy," but it's far from obvious from the lyrics themselves. That's why it doesn't seem at all unnatural to me to have a woman -- perhaps the mother? -- singing the song to "Danny."   To me, that's very much like a song from a musical "having legs" and being able to connect with audiences that are totally unfamiliar with the setting in which the song was first done.


Kathy W, I agree that some songs really seem to call for a deep voice. "Old Man River" is an example.   It just doesn't have the same impact when done by a soprano, alto, or even a tenor as when done by a basso profundo or at least a baritone.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: CupOfTea
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 03:34 PM

I've been doing a fair bit of thinking on this issue in figuring out which songs I should work to learn and which just aren't for me. Along with others above, there are many traditional songs I'm quite comfortable singing,though they are obviously from a male perspective: (Red is the Rose, Palace Grand, Lass of Glenshee, Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy) .

There are other songs I'd LOVE to sing, but in my own head they're just TOO much in need of a male voice & presentation. For a Bob Dylan theme song circle, I would dearly like to bring Eric Bogle's brilliant song about singing like Dylan, but I don't have Leadfingers' panache in being able to tweak the humor of a genderbending presentation. In a recent bawdy songs workshop, I found I could NOT bring myself to sing one verse of a song that made reference to actions with a body part I don't have. Other verses where I'm singing first person as a rowdy young man, I had no problem with... and I can't say exactly WHY I drew the line particularly THERE, but I certainly FELT it.

I give a loud HUZZAH!! to Kathy's comment:"I believe there are some songs that typically sound better when sung by a baritone-- ideally a large bearded one" - I too love those sea chaneys, but in the main, I'm more comfortable singing along with them (and the charming bearded baritones) than trying to lead 'em myself. But part of this is something besides gender - I'm not a sailor, haven't worked on a tall ship, closest I've come is windsurfing decades ago. This gets to the OP's idea of SHOULD a song be sung by... The issue in regard to larger concerns than gender has been addressed in other threads, I think, but it goes to the same issue of how you decide if a song is something you can sing with some authenticity.

There's a slew of Scottish songs I adore singing, but I only do it alone, since I don't have and can't fake a Scottish brogue. If they're "Anglished" up, I do fine. When the rhyme scheme is dependent on dialect, I just have to be content to listen to someone with the accent sing it.

Since the OP was asking about "traditional Irish" songs, it might be rewarding to research songs you fancy and see which traditional singers have them in their repertoire. I'd guess there aren't so many songs that people feel STRONGLY that should be ONLY sung by one gender. It's your comfort level in what you sing, in the end, that dictates how you arrive at where you draw the Sing/Don't Sing line.

Joanne in Cleveland, a large, unbearded soprano


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: tonyteach1
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 04:08 PM

I think its more a question of voice type and the act or presentation that you have I have a large tenor voice (3 octaves actually ) I have given up singing the pure love songs because being old and very ugly I think it woiuld not be acceptable to do so


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 04:17 PM

Disagree on Danny Boy. He says the pipes are calling..you must go and I must bide. The pipes I would think would be calling the men to assemble and he is too old now to join. I see no female presence there at all. mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,Amber
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 04:34 PM

Jolene, Jolene Joleeeene, I'm Begging of You Please Don't take my Man, can sound a LITTLE odd when sang by a male..


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 05:14 PM

I suppose girl songs can sound just plain silly when sung by a boy and vice - versa - unless the singer is poof or a butch lesbian.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Genie
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 05:33 PM

mg, "You must go and I must bide" does not indicate why "I" have to "bide."   If you don't know the history of Weatherly's lyrics, why could it not be Danny's mother or other close woman singing that he, not she, must go (to battle)?   I don't see/hear anything in the lyrics that makes the gender of the singer clear.   

And, Bonzo, I've heard many "girl songs" sung by men and "boy songs" sung by women (e.g., Joan Baez) without sounding silly at all.   But there are quite a few that really don't come across effectively when sung in the first person by someone of the other gender.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 06:18 PM

Leadfingers - in the interests of correct attribution of song writing, Miriam Backhouse didn't write Lady for Today, Rosie Hardman did.

Kitty (who does occasionally sing songs from the male perspective)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Tootler
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 07:40 PM

Here's an example of Jolene sung by a man. He does a good job IMO


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Leadfingers
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 07:55 PM

Thanks Kitty - Brain fade struck again ! Of course it was Rosie !


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 08:45 PM

Tony - why shouldn't someone (supposedly) old and ugly not sing love songs? do only the young and beautiful feel love? I rather think not! :)

Tootler - wonderful version! think it also adds a whole new dimension to that song/story... great.

I'm enlisting a male friend to sing in harmony with me on My Johnny was a shoemaker, and hope it'll add this to that song too.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,SirCoughsalot
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 09:19 PM

The White Stripes also did a version of Jolene with Josh White singing. It's a good cover.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 10:04 PM

Granted, this may not be an authoritative source, but on one of the "Three Irish Tenors" shows on PBS (pledge week special), one of the singers said that the "I" in "Danny Boy," was Danny's mother. She hears the pipes calling all the young men in the area into the military, and—if you read the lyrics from that viewpoint, it all makes perfect sense. This, despite the fact that the song is usually sung by a man—generally a tenor (prototype, John McCormack).

In fact, I would like to hear it sung by a woman.

####

The first person I ever heard sing "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" was Claire, the girl I was going with and who taught me my first chords back in 1952. The second person I heard sing it was Walt Robertson. Then on a record by Pete Seeger. Later on, Joan Baez. And I sing it myself.

I see no reason why this shouldn't be sung by either gender. The singer, after all, is the narrator, and like a good actor, should be able to effectively take almost any role.

Don Firth


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: PHJim
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 09:20 AM

Guest,Sircoughsalot,
I guess there must be another Josh White. The third LP I ever bought was a Josh White (the blues/folk singer) album. I never saw Josh in person but his son, Josh White Jr, is still performing today.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: tonyteach1
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 12:17 PM

Suegorgeous Not supposedly I am tallish dark and gruesome I have done some film work and end up playing villains and thugs Its a question of what the audience accept


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 03:39 PM

The reason why some wierdos worry about gender in the UK is because unlike in French and Spanish, English does not have masculine & feminine nouns.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Anne Lister
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 03:47 PM

Just picking up on JHW's mention of "Icarus" - it was never intended to be a woman singing about a man necessarily. Nic Jones asked if I minded him changing the pronouns around when he took the song on, and as it was Nic of course I didn't, but that and the fact that I'm clearly female has tended to dictate how people see the song. It isn't a love song and these days I'm just as likely to go diving off metaphorical cliffs as my husband, but there's nothing in the song that depends on switching the pronouns around, at least in the way I intended it when I wrote it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: JHW
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 04:10 PM

Anne, I paid my dues at MCPS but I'd be very pleasedy to send you my rendering if you pm'd me where.
Roy Harris liked it in his review (3rd para).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,SirCoughsalot
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 05:17 PM

In my earlier post I said "Josh White". That was a mistake. His name is Jack White. Sorry for any confusion.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 08:24 PM

Tony - well, all I can say is - I don't let it stop ME.... :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 10:45 PM

"Jean and Dinah" by the Mighty Sparrow is one of my favourite Calypsos to sing when I sing at home.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: KathyW
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 12:27 AM

Tony: Being old and unattractive didn't stop Pavarotti. Sing those love songs if you want to.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: PHJim
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 02:01 AM

Speaking of Josh White, he did House Of The Rising Sun from the hooker's point of view.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: foggers
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 05:35 AM

I think that the thing that matters is whether the singer feels the meaning of the song and can convey it. Listeners may have some personal preferences and clearly some of those have been expressed on this thread. Occasionally it is possible that an song author has a view about gender. For example, the beloved Jean Ritchie's song "West Virginia Mining disaster" has been described by her as stemming from a desire to write a song that conveys a female experience of such a situation. Howeveer I still think a male singer might pull it off as a song if he connects with the meaning of it.

This debate reminds me of seeing Rory McCloud a few years ago at Off The Tracks. He prefaced a song of his own about a young lass getting pregnant with some musings about whether he should be singing it (its in first person). He concluded with the thought that it is the story that matters, not the story teller. And he then went on to prove exactly that point with a very powerful rendition that brought tears (the good kind!) to the eyes.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Tootler
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 03:58 PM

JHW Wrote

So in 'Black is the colour of my true love's hair' I will always sing 'his' and think the song has the strength to make it obvious that its words are being sung by a woman even when I (a man) sing it.

I sing "her". I'm not sure that I entirely agree with your assertion here.

While browsing You Tube last night I came across this version by Cara Dillon. She actually sings "her" which I did find strange.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 09:14 AM

I don't find it strange at all - great sound, all that matters to me.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Tootler
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 09:33 AM

A bit OT, but I thought it over arranged.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: tonyteach1
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 10:20 AM

But he was rich and famous !


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,Amber
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 10:28 AM

Listened to the version of Jolene on youtube. Yes, point taken. It was good.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: JHW
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 05:30 AM

In 'Black is the colour' maybe its just me that feels strongly it is a woman singing. I can't give a reason and indeed I've heard far more women than men sing it, recorded and live.
It was the version in 'Folk Songs of The Americas', A.L.Lloyd and Isabel Aretz de Ramón y Rivera, that got me singing the song as there it is 'But black is the colour of my true love's hair' indicating the reason for the lament 'I wish the day were past and gone, my love and I could be as one'
But that's another story


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,Dave (Bridge)
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 06:37 AM

OOPS, slippy fingers. I find it very strange when a female starts 'Oh me name is Davey Lowsen' spoils the whole picture for me. Sorry.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Often
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 05:31 AM

At the end of the day I think it comes down to whether or not the person singing it pulls it off.
I suspect that between the songs themselves and our own expectations and biases that some songs will tend to sound better sung by one gender or another, but I really don't think it can be treated like it was a law of physics.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: JHW
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 05:40 AM

And for me it needs a woman to sing 'Patience Kershaw','The Recruited Collier' and other pit tragedies lamented by the widows. I'm trying to think the song where they laid out the bodies in The Royal and 'it was only by the belt he wore I knew which one was mine'.
Changing to third person (going back to earlier) to get out of a gender problem has also an effect on the perspective of the song.
Sheila Miller's Sidmouth Ballad Sessions used to have rules of engagement. The singer could not be a participant in the story of the ballad. The ballad must be third person.
The detachment gives a different feel to the action. (imho and again, another story)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 05:56 AM

"The Recruited Collier" starts with a person of indeterminate sex asking the Collier's sweetheart what ails her & where her dashing Jimmy is: the rest of the song, her reply, thus forms part of a dialogue, with her response in virtual quotation marks. So I see no reason why a man cannot sing it with complete conviction.

A way round the problem, for those who are bothered by it, is slight emendation at the start: so that, for example, "I am a young girl and my fortune is bad; I've always been courted by the wagoner's lad" ~ could be rendered as "There was [or It is of] a young girl and her fortune was bad. She said 'I've always been courted...'" &c.

~Michael~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 06:15 AM

"I find it very strange when a female starts 'Oh me name is Davey Lowsen' spoils the whole picture for me. Sorry."

I know what you mean, but that very strangeness, or spoiling of the picture, is one of the things I've come to value and enjoy about trad songs.

The picture gets "spoiled" quite often in the course of many a song, simply cos the narrator/viewpoint switches so often, like in a movie.

Sometimes when you're hearing a love song, and the gender of the singer and the gender of the addressee are unspecified for a few verses, when you finally hear a "he" or "she" it can be a bit of a jolt, but that can be a good thing, i think.

Yes, it changes a song from direct experience to a story, something that happened a long time ago, to people utterly different (& yet not so different) long dead.

I always liked the fact that the Star Wars movies began with the rather wistful introduction "A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away". A bit Brechtian really.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 06:21 AM

Always puts a smile on my face to hear Ewan MacColl's bearded tenor belting out: "And I myself a thumpin' quean, wha danced the reel o' Stumpie O".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 06:38 AM

"In 'Black is the colour' maybe its just me that feels strongly it is a woman singing. I can't give a reason and indeed I've heard far more women than men sing it, recorded and live."

Have you heard Pete Seeger's (a capella) version? I think it's my favorite recorded performance of that song. Sends shivers down my spine.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: JHW
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 04:25 PM

Heading down town on the bus it dawned on me that 'The Recruited Collier' starts with that one line from that other person! Ingenious.
Guest yes a fine version from Pete Seeger and a lift at the end of the melody I haven't heard elsewhere. So many versions


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 05:42 PM

"Black is the Color." I have always assumed that it was a man singing, but essentially it seems sort of "unisex" to me and adapts easily with a minor change or two in accessories, depending on which gender is singing it.

For example, "the daintiest hands" implies that it's a man singing, "the strongest hands" that it's a woman. Along with coordinated changes in pronouns. I've heard it sung both ways, depending on who was singing it, and it works equally well either way.

Pretty good run-down on "(But) Black is the Color (Colour)" here on Wikipedia, some of which deals with the gender issue.

Don Firth


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 06:16 PM

"I find it very strange when a female starts 'Oh me name is Davey Lowsen' spoils the whole picture for me. Sorry."

If you're bothered about that, shouldn't you be even more bothered about the narrator in that song being dead? How you wrap you brain around that is up to you. One option could be to presume reincarnation, which could be to either a man or a woman. But it's easier just to accept that someone is presenting the story on behalf of the deceased Davey.

Richard


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 Oct 11 - 01:52 PM

Two times I've seen a play called 'Fully Committed.' (We liked it so much we took friends to see it the second time.)

This play has only one character, and out-of-work actor who answers the phone in the basement of a trendy restaurant. He plays himself and he plays every person calling him on the phone. I forget the actor's name, but he was incredible.

He could be a man, a woman, a Japanese tourist, the boss, the British hostess upstairs ("I'm sorry, darling, but the staff meals have all been eaten."), a supermodel's gay personal assistant, his own dad, anybody. It was amazing to see the new ways he spoke, moved, and held himself as he became the new person. That is the essence of acting.

Imagination is basic to entertainment, and it's perfectly possible to imagine that a person is a member of the opposite sex. Heck, I could imagine I was an octopus, if I tried hard enough.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 09:32 PM

The chorus of "The Sheik Of Araby" is gender-specific.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 09:34 PM

And I don't have a problem with it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 03:42 AM

"He fades away"........written by a man from a womans point of view and sung by both women and men.

If a song has a good, strong story line then gender is secondary, except perhaps for songs such as "My husband's got no courage in him". Important is whether or not you can get behind the story. Try "The Female Soldier"........


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 10:07 AM

I sing mostly Irish songs here(England) and back home in Ireland and I always believe, and it's my experience, that Irish ballads are sung the same by either sex i.e no need to change the wording from he to she etc


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and song singing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 11:14 AM

Don ~~ My Husband's Got No Courage In Him also gets round the problem by being narrated by a person of indeterminate sex who reports what s/he heard the woman singing.

As I walked out one summer's morning
To view the trees and leaves a-springing
I saw two maidens standing standing by
And one of them her hands was wringing
    Chorus Oh dear oh
    Oh dear oh
    My husband's got no courage in him



So not a good example here?

~M~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 14 November 3:11 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.