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The Folk Voice

Western Suze 13 Oct 11 - 07:05 AM
VirginiaTam 13 Oct 11 - 07:15 AM
DrugCrazed 13 Oct 11 - 07:19 AM
Leadfingers 13 Oct 11 - 07:29 AM
Dave Hanson 13 Oct 11 - 08:53 AM
terrier 13 Oct 11 - 09:00 AM
Steve Hunt 13 Oct 11 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,SteveG 13 Oct 11 - 09:22 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Oct 11 - 09:25 AM
Vic Smith 13 Oct 11 - 09:37 AM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 11 - 10:02 AM
Steve Hunt 13 Oct 11 - 10:08 AM
Western Suze 13 Oct 11 - 10:49 AM
theleveller 13 Oct 11 - 11:23 AM
GUEST,Auldtimer 13 Oct 11 - 11:49 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Oct 11 - 11:54 AM
Spleen Cringe 13 Oct 11 - 12:07 PM
Spleen Cringe 13 Oct 11 - 12:11 PM
theleveller 13 Oct 11 - 12:21 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 13 Oct 11 - 01:12 PM
Amos 13 Oct 11 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,matt milton 13 Oct 11 - 01:42 PM
Don Firth 13 Oct 11 - 01:57 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Oct 11 - 02:24 PM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 11 - 03:14 PM
Anne Neilson 13 Oct 11 - 03:24 PM
Amos 13 Oct 11 - 03:38 PM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 11 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,glueman 13 Oct 11 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,mg 13 Oct 11 - 05:39 PM
Stringsinger 13 Oct 11 - 07:51 PM
Amos 13 Oct 11 - 09:33 PM
Janie 13 Oct 11 - 11:01 PM
theleveller 14 Oct 11 - 04:05 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Oct 11 - 04:27 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 Oct 11 - 04:28 AM
VirginiaTam 14 Oct 11 - 05:00 AM
Will Fly 14 Oct 11 - 05:05 AM
theleveller 14 Oct 11 - 05:53 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Oct 11 - 06:46 AM
Vin2 14 Oct 11 - 06:49 AM
Lighter 14 Oct 11 - 08:45 AM
Will Fly 14 Oct 11 - 08:54 AM
Vin2 14 Oct 11 - 09:49 AM
theleveller 14 Oct 11 - 09:58 AM
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Subject: The Folk Voice??
From: Western Suze
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 07:05 AM

There was a time back in the 1970's & 1980's when most of the singers you heard in folk clubs had a peculiar nasal affectation and sang in an imaginary accent of a non-existent county which must have been located on the shared border between Devon and Durham. It was a very odd and unpleasant noise, but it seemed to mostly vanish. Recently, however, I have noticed it making a bit of a comeback. I was having my monthly look at the Folk Roots site today and see that they have an editorial about it, so I wasn't imagining it then. They also have an old 1980 June Tabor interview which talks about clarity of singing too, and an old 1979 Nic Jones one where he talks about people copying traditional singers for all the wrong reasons. Let me see if I can do the blue linky things, apologies if it goes wrong!!

"Folk Voice" editorial

Old interviews

Do others think it would be a sad thing if that misguided style of singing made a comeback?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 07:15 AM

hhmmm... Not sure if I fully agree with the premise that it was all "put on" poor imitations of country folk singing in the field, mill or local pub. I like to think that some of those 60s and 70s singers were people singing on farms, in factories and in local pubs at some point in their lives and that some inherited that sound/style from parents who did the same.

So about current singers putting the nasal sound and quaint accents on. I don't mind it, in fact love it if done well. Guess it boils down to what appeals to each individual listener. Does that answer your question?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 07:19 AM

Interestingly, Stirrings had an editorial on it as well either last issue or the one before.

The folk voice has now changed I think, I've noticed I've picked up Mr Boden's style of vib by ear (beating the several classical people who trained for years and couldn't do it. Teehee). I've a different accent while I sing, but I do it on purpose - that 'voice' is much richer for singing in, but it doesn't work in a classical setting. Nor a power metal setting for that matter...


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 07:29 AM

I remember 'The Folk Voice' back in the bad old days , and dread its re appearnce - Doesnt seem to be very prevalent where I normally go !

And I remember one of the High Level Ranters making a Jocular comment about the number of Semi Pro singers who spent all day teaching children to speak 'proper' English and then sang dialect songs in the evening !


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 08:53 AM

I think the bit about singers with 'little girl ' voices which Ian Anderson gets a bit snotty about is a result of people comparing them to singers with voices like Norma Waterson, the late Ray Fisher, June Tabor, Maddy Prior, Carolyn Robson and a few more women with big voices and NONE of them affecting the so called ' folk voice ' or any affectation, just their natural voice.

Why do I get the impression Ian Anderson doesn't really like traditional song ? well not British anyway

Dave H


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: terrier
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 09:00 AM

I wonder if that 'folk voice' was partly a product of having to sing without amplification? Not everyone has a powerful singing voice with a good range and the average folkie was probably not trained in voice projection, so making ones self heard in a large room full of people who maybe were not too quiet could be a challenge for the average non trained singer. As folk events started to use more amplification, the voices get quieter and more 'natural' as there is less strain on the voice, singers who did not sing in public before because they thought they were 'too quiet' now can use a microphone and be heard. Now we have a situation whereas (some) people who normally use mics just don't know how to sing without them. I see no point in singing a song in public (without aplification) where the audience just can't here the words being sung. So maybe the 'folk voice' wasn't so bad after all.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Steve Hunt
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 09:02 AM

Dave, your impression is way off the mark. Check out "Hidden English," Topic Records TSCD600. "Compiled by John Howson, Ian Anderson and Tony Engle. Produced in association with Folk roots magazine and Veteran Tapes," or the more recent Ian Anderson compiled "Rough Guide To English Folk."


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 09:22 AM

Personally I think the bigger issue is variety. It would be a boring old world if we all imitated the same half dozen singers, be they source singers or revivalists.

Terrier is spot on re certain styles evolving to meet certain situations such as lack of electrical amplification. Recordings of the early 19th century mostly are of singers with high register and piercing voices for that very reason.

I tend to sing something like my own grandparents/parents and the singers I recorded in the 60s and possibly the Watersons who were a big influence on me but at least all of these are from my own region.
However, I have no objection to singers developing their own distinct style in order to be different. I'd rather this happen than they slavishly copy the style of say Martin C.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 09:25 AM

I value this review by the non-specialist local paper critic of a folk evening I did at the Eye Theatre in Suffolk nearly 20 years ago ~~

'An unpretentious performer, he can talk to the audience in very middle class tones and then, without putting on the folk voice, can still go right into the spirit of a song.'
                Basil Abbott - Norfolk & Suffolk Express 14 Feb 1992

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Vic Smith
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 09:37 AM

... and aside from Steve Hunt's important and relevant comments on Dave Hanson's comment, there is the following:-

Dave Hanson wrote:-
I think the bit about singers with 'little girl ' voices which Ian Anderson gets a bit snotty about....


Does he really, Dave? Quotes please.
In a recent conversation with Ian Anderson, I was banging on about my dissatisfaction with the 'little girlie' voices whist Ian was defending them. Have you read The Editor's Box that is linked to in the opening post, Dave? In it Ian writes:-

Elsewhere, the Folkistanis bang on about how they resent the popularity of the school of young women singers who, they sniff, sing in 'little girl' voices. Well, the good thing about them is that – like them or not – they are largely singing in their own natural voices and accents, and (it seems to me) are well involved in the stories of the songs they are singing. I'd rather hear a so-called 'waif' who believes in what she's singing and transmits that to her listeners than some bawler who's concentrating on making the folk noise. Since neither school, one suspects, have ever been near a coal mine, a naval battle or bit of incest and murder anyway…


I think that I may be one of those Folkistanis that Ian refers to, but I can live with that. I enjoy conversations with Ian because, though we sometimes disagree, we are both passionate about British traditional song and the way that it is performed. This brings me to:-

Dave Hanson wrote:-
"Why do I get the impression Ian Anderson doesn't really like traditional song ? well not British anyway."


How can you justify that statement, Dave? Even if you don't know the man to talk to, look through some of his writings and find if you can any dislike of British folk singing. I could provide dozens of written examples of his total enthusiasm for it. Surely the quotation above shows his commitment.
Does your remark reflect the fact that his enthusiasm extends beyond these islands? That is true of very many of us.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 10:02 AM

Vic - I too hate "little girl" voices and I also hate your blue typeface. I also hate pianos but that's another story. I certainly don't hate anything MC does and find nothing to object to in his voice. His singing voice sounds very like his spoken voice to me and while it no longer has the resonance it did, we all get older and he is a lot better than most of us can manage. I don't like the operatic vibrato and indeed I find the revered Dame SC a bit operatic (although without vibrato) in her seminal recordings.

I do object to fake regional accents almost as much as I object to fake American blues singers (or country singers but I hate country too so that makes not much odds) but there are times when just a touch of regionality seems to be demanded by the song. It should never be overdone.

By way of contrast nasality is hardly ever a deliberate affectation, IMHO. Certainly my spoken voice and singing voice are naturally somewhat nasal and perhaps more markedly so when eschewing (as is desirable when possible) amplification, but it's nothing to do with affecting a "folk voice". If people were singing nasally in the revival I'd guess a large part of it was rejection of the impositions of music teachers in schools, which impositions had oppressed so many for decades.

I do object to the imposition of bel canto ideas opposed to natural voices (and in that context criticism of nasality - have people never been to Birmingham or Coventry or Wolverhampton, FFS? - those ideas are the epitome of the upper middle class colonising folk music.

I cannot live with the idea that the Rough Guide to English Roots Music (I think that was its correct name) displays a love of English folk song. On first hearing it I was sufficiently horrified to dash of a ranting letter to the company - but it was not even acknowledged.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Steve Hunt
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 10:08 AM

"I cannot live with the idea that the Rough Guide to English Roots Music (I think that was its correct name) displays a love of English folk song. On first hearing it I was sufficiently horrified to dash of a ranting letter to the company - but it was not even acknowledged."

Richard - "The Rough Guide To English Roots Music" is an earlier (1998) album, not the recent Ian Anderson compiled one that I referred to.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Western Suze
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 10:49 AM

"I see no point in singing a song in public . . . where the audience just can't here the words being sung.

I thought the argument being put forward was more along the lines of "I see no point in singing a song in public where the audience just can't understand the words being sung. " The June Tabor interview I linked (successfully, to my surprise!) in the first post in this Topic has much to say about that.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: theleveller
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 11:23 AM

I can't say I've noticed a return to 60s and 70s style of singing. Can someone give me some examples?

For me the epitome of 60s folk was either Martin Carthy or, more influentially, The Watersons - but they were my first real introduction to folk music, we met frequently in the local clubs and they came from just down the road so they talked like me. I don't relly think I've ever shaken off the influence of Mike Waterson especially.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 11:49 AM

".... Ian Anderson doesn't really like traditional song ...." No, no, this can't be right. Or has the penny droped at last.

I belive you'r thinking of school teacher type singers, many of which are still alive and well and churning out CDs.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 11:54 AM

Not sure what these animadversions about the 'little girl' voice actually mean. Anne Briggs, for instance, though far from little, has something of that timbre; but surely no-one would deny her excellence & accomplishment. Could someone be a bit more specific on this subject please?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 12:07 PM

Have people never been to Birmingham or Coventry or Wolverhampton, FFS?

As my old friend Bruno once said, there's nothing wrong with the West Midlands that crpet bombing the place with Vics wouldn't solve.

Personally I don't mind a spot of affectation. Folk music is all about artifice anyway...


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 12:11 PM

Sooner have a 'little girl voice' (whatever that is - I supect it's a definition invented by grumpy blokes who like bellowing) that a little boy voice. If we get any move towards male folk singers trying to sound like boy band members then I'd get worried!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: theleveller
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 12:21 PM

Is there such a thing as a non-folk voice? Mrsleveller always says that she can't sing in a folk voice because she was classically trained.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 01:12 PM

The Folk Voice is a Revival 2 thing; before that you had the likes of Jack Langstaff essaying the sort of repertoir the Watersons would later cover in fine old style. Then you had the likes of Mike Waterson, Ewan MacColl and Peter Bellamy taking the human voice where it had never gone before, but Traditional Song was always best served by idiosyncratic stylists - Davie Stewart, Willie Scott, Phil Tanner, Harry Cox et al. So, to thine own chops be true, though things seem to be levelling out of late. This isn't unique to Folk though - where's the 2011 equivalent to Captain Beefheart? I'm sure he's out there somewhere, just these days we're less likely to hear of him.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Amos
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 01:16 PM

Classical training adds structure to the natural voice that is not usually thought of as a "folk" sound. But as usual this discussion is swamped with hordes of flying opinions and waves of push-button obligato which combine to produce more heat than light.

THere is such a thing as a non-folk voice, sure--just listen to any professional operatic performer. Folk music, being naturally a parlor affair, never developed the large-chested projection techniques, and musically is never challenged to match the range and technical intricacies that opera singers meet every day. It is a simpler, much less complicated approach which why it is enjoyed by "ordinary" people.

A


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 01:42 PM

"This isn't unique to Folk though - where's the 2011 equivalent to Captain Beefheart? I'm sure he's out there somewhere, just these days we're less likely to hear of him."

Not really the 2011 equivalent, but the nearest (and most influential) thing in recent history would probably have been Lee Dorian, of Napalm Death.

Or possibly Sizzla, the Jamaican roots/ragga toaster.

I know what you mean about Willie Scott, Harry Cox et al. Listening back to all those singers - some of whom were invited to perform alongside Ewan MacColl and others - makes you wonder how on earth The Folk Voice came to be. What exactly were they hearing there that they were trying to imitate?

I mean, when you listen to the Voice of People compilations, you hear a massive variety of vernacular voices, but you rarely hear anything even approaching that immediately recognisable MacColl/Bellamy/Frank Harte/Frankie Armstrong tonality.

I love much of the aforementioned dearly, but I'm glad The Folk Voice has disappeared. I'm a bit mystified by the suggestions that it's coming back. Unless they're referring to the popularity of Jon Boden, say, I can't imagine who they are referring to.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 01:57 PM

The following are two quotes from singers of folk songs that I think might be enlightening and edifying:

One is from Rolf Cahn, a singer from whom, in just a few brief encounters, I learned a great deal back in the late 1950s. This is from the liner notes on the back of one of his record jackets.
The most ticklish question still results from that awful word "Folk Music", which gives the erroneous impression that there is one body of music with one standard texture, dynamic, and history. Actually, the term today covers areas that are only connected in the subtlest terms of general feeling and experience. A United States cowboy song has less connection with a bloody Zulu tale than it has to "Western Pop" music; a lowdown blues fits less with Dutch South African melody than with George Gershwin.

Most of us agree in feeling as to our general boundaries, but more and more we search for our own particular contributions as musicians within these variegated provinces. There doesn't seem to be much point in imitating—what, after all, is the point of doing "Little Moses" exactly like the Carter Family? Yet it seems vital to convey the massive, punching instrumentals and the tense driving, almost hypnotic voice of the Carter Family performances.

One the one hand, there is the danger of becoming a musical stamp collector; on the other, the equal danger of leaving behind the language, texture, and rhythm that made the music worthy of our devotion in the first place. [Emphasis mine. DF] So we have arrived at a point where in each case we try to determine those elements which make a particular piece of music meaningful to us, and to build the performance through these elements. By continuing to learn everything possible of the art form-techniques, textures, rhythms, cultural implications and conventions, we hope to mature constantly in our individual understanding and creativity in this music.
And the other is from Richard Dyer-Bennet (granted that the classically trained Dyer-Bennet is not everyone's cup of tea, nevertheless, what he says below is most certainly true).
The value lies inherent in the song, not in the regional mannerisms or colloquialisms. No song is ever harmed by being articulated clearly, on pitch, with sufficient control of phrase and dynamics to make the most of the poetry and melody, and with an instrumental accompaniment designed to enrich the whole effect.
Amen.

I have always considered putting on a "folk voice" to be phony.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 02:24 PM

Folk music, being naturally a parlor affair, never developed the large-chested projection techniques, and musically is never challenged to match the range and technical intricacies that opera singers meet every day.

I can't make out the words opera singers sing. Even in English. In fact, if anything, even more so when they are singing in English.

As for amplification, fair enough in a big venue. But singing out, rather than mumbling or whispering into a mike, is what its all about.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 03:14 PM

The language is part of the song.

Texture, if it means anything, is a matter of interpretation.

Rhythm comes in more than one form. There is no reason not to take (say) "The Wild Mountain Thyme" and do it in 4/4 in stead of the more common 3/4.

But the regionality of the song is part of its 1954 definition legitimacy of currency in a community. Dialect (and similar) words and phrases should therefore be preserved but copying accent is condescension. Clarity of articulation may be a barred by the currency of the song as a folk song and while I would not usually do an Appalachian song (since I am not Appalachian) except to return a preservation to its English roots (well, environment, anyway) I would not dream of rendering songs in RP save to the extent that it was my natural way of articulation.

Many a tale hangs by what sort of accompaniment adds to or detracts from a folk song.

And some operatic renditions of say "Barb'ra Ellen" (or "Allen") are amongst the most disgusting things I have ever heard.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 03:24 PM

For myself, I dislike nasal tones, vibrato, bellowing/large-chested projection -- and any kind of wafty voice that requires amplification to make any kind of communication!
So, a lot of no-no's -- but although my particular preference is for the compelling, full sound of a Jeannie Robertson or a Lizzie Higgins, I am also very appreciative of the high, pure sound of a voice like Maureen Jelks's.
For me, the main starting point has to be ENUNCIATION -- if the words are clearly understood, then the songs have communicated and the singers have done their duty to the tradition.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Amos
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 03:38 PM

RIchard:

I think there is a subtle distinction in singing a song that has a distinct dialectical origin. I don't think of myself as imitating Missippi sharecroppers when I sing blues, but I feel right at home giving such a number my own bluesy intonation, very different from the way I would talk on a business conference with a banker. Similarly I don't like those who overtly pretend to be Irish once a year, but it seems natural enough to slip into a broguish lilt when I am doing a song that only means what it does because of its Irish provenance, such as RIsing of the Moon, the Boy from Killairn, or Jug O' Punch. Mick Lane can roar with a Midwestern twang when he is arm-wrestling with a company rep, but when he does DUblin in the Good Auld Days, the same thing happens to him, and it never sounds artificial or affected--and therein lies the difference. I do not believe that there is anything condescending about the former; it is more of a rejoicing in the original voice.

A

Unaffected coloration is part of the art in my opinion, and the difference between it and clumsy affectation of accents is important.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 03:58 PM

Well, it is affected, in that it is not the home tone of the singer, but subject to that I have some sympathy. Mick is an American of Irish descent, and to straddle the pathways is to that extent natural. I am neither.

I remain of the view that to condemn nasality as an affected "folk voice" is to inject bel canto tests where it is they who are the aliens.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 05:23 PM

I've always felt Jon Boden's singing style was in parenthesis, a manner of address his audience is supposed to 'get', a way through the minefield of talking one way and performing a different one entirely. There's a difference between singing under a flag of convenience and opting for default Mummerset through galloping bucholia and imagination deficit.

In the same way a band like Dr Feelgood always sounded Canvey Island even when Lee Brilleaux was adopting the mores of Mississippi, more so in fact. Likewise Mick Jagger's art school camp is underlined by his cod   blues. So long as singer and audience know what's up there's no harm done.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 05:39 PM

Little girl..no..actually 14 year old trying to be seductive voice..something happened in Irish music probably 20 or so years ago where you could struggle to find a recorded woman who sounded normal..and I worked by a CD store and listened to dozens looking for something..anything..it was all I am prepubescent or just barely into it and I am singing in a cathedral and unfortunately I have asthma so I have to sort of whisper and sing at the same time. With all due respect to true asthmatics, and women with naturally wispy voices, I think most of what we heard was an artifact of monkey see monkey do. After all, Irish women for ever and ever have had fine strong voices and all of a sudden they all get asthma and hormonal reversals of fortune? mg


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Stringsinger
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 07:51 PM

The pop market encouraged the sexy sound of the silky baby voice.

I concur with Don Firth and having known Rolf personally and respected his intelligence and knowledge about folk music, which he assiduously studied, the point it that you gotta' be who you are. If you aren't a traditional folk singer reflecting a particular culture, you can't ape it. That doesn't mean that you can't turn out a moving performance conveying the feeling and knowledge of a folksong.

I am irritated at the sound of someone trying to ape a traditional singer and I can generally tell when this is happening. There is far more than just the sound of a traditional singer's voice that comes across, an innate connection of the material that the culture gives him or her, a sense of they know what they're singing about even if the content is not necessarily completely understood.

One thing really bugs me, since I knew him, is Woody imitators who didn't understand the underlying political views that he held (he was a socialist and a kind of a Christian),
but they attempt to dress like him (he was always disheveled but remember that he was fighting a horrendous disease) and sing like they thought he did.

I cite Woody's imitators as an example of the egregious affectation of many novice folkies when they try to sound "authentic". It ain't who they are and it comes across as phony.

On the other hand, a Harvard drop-out such as Pete Seeger from a moderately well-to-do background is completely himself and can in his performance give an honest feeling of the song that he chooses. He sometimes misses but rarely and you get it that he really knows what folk music is and can share it giving the feeling of his own authenticity.

As far as UK folk music, I don't know too much about it. I have enjoyed A.L. Loyd and liked some of what Ewan did and revered Jeannie Robertson and Margaret Barry. I love the true Irish Sean nos and I admired Liam Clancy although some Irish referred to him as an American singer. Tommy Makem obviously inherited a tradition from his mother Sarah, who was deemed more important to the BBC catalogues than Tommy.

The point it, you gotta' be who you are and not try to ape someone else.

That said, the shadow of Woody haunts me as one of the greatest American songwriters who ever lived in the folk music genre.

If it weren't for Pete Seeger, we wouldn't know as much about American folk music as we do today.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Amos
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 09:33 PM

Seems to me that --immersed in the song--the singer's home tone may be coming from the song, not from his natal location. People have dozens or scores of voices and there is nothing false about the natural slide among them based on what they are feeling and doing at the time. It strikes me as affected to assert that one is purely and only a location, anyway, given the rich width and flexibility of the vocal instrument and the use of it to communicate.


A


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Janie
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 11:01 PM

Well said, Amos. Though I will also say that there are people singing in the Appalachian tradition of music who do a fine job musically but are so practiced and polished stylistically that a nebulous something ends up lost to to the professionalism and ascendancy of performance over original function.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 04:05 AM

I don't think anyone has the right to tell anyone else how they should sing. If you don't like it, just don't listen - there will be plenty more people who you do like.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 04:27 AM

Personally, I find the Folk Voice as comforting as an old pair of shoes & even though it's an affectation of the Folk Zeitgeist of the last 50 years or so, I will miss it when it's gone. I was thinking the same thing whilst watching old footage of the Queen opening Calder Hall nuclear power station last night on BBC4 - 1956! Two years after Folk Defined Itself & 5 years before I was born, and QE2 is still here... What an amazing era this second Elizabethan age has been. Anyway, with respect of The Folk Voice, it's always nice to have an excuse to watch this again:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC0uNnG-AI8


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 04:28 AM

I've always believed that the nasal tone adopted by many Revival singers in the 60s/70s was because they blindly copied their Revivalist heroes rather than listen to 'real' traditional singers.

Having said that, I once heard a Revival singer doing a Harry Cox impression IN FRONT OF Harry Cox!!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 05:00 AM

Impossibilities

Perfectly rendered in my opinion.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 05:05 AM

Well, I must be a complete charlatan since my "folk voice" derives from Frank Crumit, the Delmore Brothers, Jimmie Rodgers and Doc Watson! If I do sing the occasional English folk song, it's always in my own voice which veers between Scotland, Lancashire and Sussex - all of which I have lived in... I'm not a huge fan of the nasal "folk" accent.

I love singing the songs of 1920s and 1930s America and the words would really sound odd without some pretence at an American accent on my part. What I hate is an over-produced "American" twang on the part of non-American singers. There are, after all, a huge number of regional American accents. My attitude is to use the lightest American accent as possible and the gentle lilt of Doc Watson is a good guide as far as I'm concerned. Whether it works or not is up to the listener.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 05:53 AM

Doc Watson - now you're talking. My early 'folk voice' was probably a combination of Doc Watson and Mike Waterson. I suspect that it sounded horrendous although I was asked to perform at a lot of folk clubs at the time. I remember once when Alex Campbell walked into a club in London while I was singing 'Robin Hood and the Fifteen Foresters' followed by, I think, 'Little Stream of Whiskey'. Afterwards he came up and said, "I liked the Robin Hood song but the American one was shite." Praise indeed!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 06:46 AM

Perfectly rendered in my opinion.

Absolutely. Who was that, VT?

Here's one right back at ya! Again, perfectly sung (budgie included).

Child #2 Sung by Mrs. Allie Long Parker of Eureka Springs, Arkensas, April 1958.

*

I once heard a Revival singer doing a Harry Cox impression IN FRONT OF Harry Cox!!

The sincerest form of flattery?

Thing is, we were all moved by listening to someone and those influences and mannerisms can be telling, even up to them being considered a tradition in themselves. As well as the Old Singers, I love a lot of great revival singers old & young; I love the singing a lot of people I've heard in singarounds; but I also love Revival I singers who don't bother with the Revival II Folk Voice, for the origin of which you might look no further than the late great Tim Hart, who, like Shirley Collins, spawned a generation of singers who thought that was how to sing folksongs. Well, it certainly was for Tim Hart and Shirley Collins anyway, but, as I say, imitation is the sincerest form etc. etc. That said, there is a convivial correctness about the Folk Voice which amounts to a sort of misguided pedantry, but I do love those big-voiced morris-blokes, even though their swagger & showboating can be a little irksome at times. A dying breed? God, I hope not.

All this talk of Little Girl Voices and seductive 14-year-olds seems more than a little perverted. If I think of a LGV I might think of Lena Zavaroni, and there is a fashion that adopts certain Comhaltas Sean-Nos stylings to other traditions but when I listen to such singers I'm not hearing children or adolescents, but a mature musical singing style, and very powerful too, like Susie Jones of Preston, who I've seen silence huge audience with the power and subtlety of her singing without a PA!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Vin2
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 06:49 AM

It' a tricky subject. On the very rare occasions when i do sing in a sing-a-round (un-accompanied) i do try not to sound as though i'm o i'm trying to immitate a Carthy or McColl or Peter Bellamy (if that's possible). However, if you have listened to say McColl's 'Freeborn Man of Travelling People' so many times over 40 years i wonder if that voice does kind of creep in (albeit unintentionally) at bit at times. I'm not a treined or pro singer so i'm always a bit self concious (even more so when reading threads like this). I try not to let my voice sound bland so do try and vary the passages a bit in what you might call the 'traditonal' style whilst keeping to my own voice as much as possible and hopefully making the words audible to all. To me when singing songs like e.g. Thorneymore Woods, you're telling a story of a poacher's day so the emphasis is to get that across as interestingly and clearly as possible. The sound of your voice is secondary as bad or at times copy-cat as it may sound.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Lighter
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 08:45 AM

"Roots" singers pick up their mannerisms from the community of trad singers around them, with an occasional idiosyncrasy of their own.

"Revival" singers have to be more eclectic. Part of their musical experience comes from other genres, and they can't help incorporating those influences unconsciously - or consciously in some cases.

As usual, unless you're doing musicology, it's all a matter of taste.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 08:54 AM

Afterwards he came up and said, "I liked the Robin Hood song but the American one was shite." Praise indeed!

LOL! Good old Alex, eh? I remember him at Lancaster University Folk Club, slightly drunk, shouting out, "There I was, down the mines, hewin' ma coll! Hewin' ma coll!"

You can draw your own conclusions from that one... He was larger than life to a young shaver like meself in those days. Somebody sang "Calton Weavers" at a singaround recently, and I was immediately transported back in memory to Alex singing it at some club somewhere in the Lancaster area around 1965.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: Vin2
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 09:49 AM

Ah Alex Campbell, now ther's a voice to conjur with 'YAY OH YAY Folks'. Loved his versions of Calton Weavers, Ta the beggin i will go, Gresford Disaster & Paxton's lovely Victoria Dines Alone and no one could sing the Wild Rover like Alex eh?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Voice
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 09:58 AM

Hell, yeah!


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