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Review: Unaccompanied singing

Stringsinger 18 Nov 12 - 12:19 PM
Desert Dancer 18 Nov 12 - 03:18 PM
kendall 18 Nov 12 - 03:31 PM
JHW 18 Nov 12 - 03:58 PM
The Sandman 18 Nov 12 - 04:17 PM
foggers 18 Nov 12 - 05:32 PM
PHJim 18 Nov 12 - 05:34 PM
Stringsinger 18 Nov 12 - 05:43 PM
Tootler 18 Nov 12 - 07:09 PM
GUEST,John Condon 18 Nov 12 - 07:57 PM
Richard Bridge 18 Nov 12 - 08:31 PM
frogprince 18 Nov 12 - 08:43 PM
breezy 19 Nov 12 - 05:24 AM
The Sandman 19 Nov 12 - 05:57 AM
Leadfingers 19 Nov 12 - 08:19 AM
GUEST,Desi C 19 Nov 12 - 08:26 AM
My guru always said 19 Nov 12 - 09:19 AM
Stringsinger 19 Nov 12 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,John Moulden 19 Nov 12 - 10:14 AM
DebC 19 Nov 12 - 10:24 AM
GUEST 19 Nov 12 - 10:46 AM
Tootler 19 Nov 12 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,M0AFJ 19 Nov 12 - 12:25 PM
frogprince 19 Nov 12 - 03:04 PM
Ged Fox 19 Nov 12 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,Siobhan 19 Nov 12 - 07:32 PM
kendall 19 Nov 12 - 08:47 PM
kendall 19 Nov 12 - 08:50 PM
ollaimh 19 Nov 12 - 09:55 PM
GUEST,Pat 20 Nov 12 - 12:06 PM
Speedwell 20 Nov 12 - 01:15 PM
RoyH (Burl) 20 Nov 12 - 01:56 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 20 Nov 12 - 02:33 PM
Noreen 20 Nov 12 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,schlimmerkerl 20 Nov 12 - 02:42 PM
Joe Offer 20 Nov 12 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,Seonaid 20 Nov 12 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,John Condon 20 Nov 12 - 09:39 PM
GUEST 21 Nov 12 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,SteveT 21 Nov 12 - 07:15 AM
kendall 21 Nov 12 - 07:46 AM
GUEST,John Condon 21 Nov 12 - 07:54 AM
GUEST 21 Nov 12 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,CS 21 Nov 12 - 11:18 AM
The Sandman 21 Nov 12 - 01:50 PM
Stringsinger 21 Nov 12 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,John Condon 21 Nov 12 - 09:38 PM
GUEST 22 Nov 12 - 08:15 AM
GUEST 22 Nov 12 - 08:17 AM
GUEST 22 Nov 12 - 09:58 AM
Stringsinger 22 Nov 12 - 10:10 AM
Richard Bridge 22 Nov 12 - 03:36 PM
GUEST 24 Nov 12 - 12:00 PM
dick greenhaus 24 Nov 12 - 06:27 PM
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Subject: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 12:19 PM

A new trend (maybe not too new) is being revived, that is a public song circle where
two songs allowed for performers, one, a song that offers a group song chorus for people to participate and another for an individual performance.

As many people are not instrumentalists, the unaccompanied song is making a come back at this event. I think this a healthy musical trend.

Songmakers, in Los Angeles, had this successful format that, in the Sixties and Seventies, was held in homes over the whole area. You could go to one every night of the week and it was free. They could last two or three hours.

Songwriters or performers who wanted to trot out new material or songs they've learned had a chance to test them before an audience.

Unaccompanied singing is important because it exercises not only an interesting presentation but good pitch and interpretation.

I realize that this is done extensively in the UK but Americans have been reluctant
as a group to do this except in small social circles.

I'd much rather hear a well executed unaccompanied song than someone banging on a guitar and singing a trad song with a pseudo rock rhythm.

I also appreciate the Burl Ives approach, if you use accompaniment and are just beginning as a player, KISS (keep in simple stupid).

There is such a group now in Atlanta that meets the last Sunday of every month conducted by Moira Nelligan, an American Irish singer as part of the Nelligan School of Traditional Irish and American music.

We are happy participants and enjoy all kinds of people singing and leading songs.

Moira Nelligan School of Trad Irish and Americana


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 03:18 PM

That sounds good to me.

Songmakers still is in action... clicky. I have them on my list to check out. I have yet to find a singing home in LA, hubby and I have been more focused on instrumental jams.

~ Becky in Tucson
(but half the time in Long Beach)


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: kendall
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 03:31 PM

My philosophy is simple. If you don't like it, leave.
If you don't aprove of abortion, don't have one.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: JHW
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 03:58 PM

Hope it goes well.
I have been to UK clubs which by tradition rather then rule were all unaccompanied but that's some years since now.
The 'Middle Bar' singers sessions at Sidmouth are of course avowedly voice only. Anywhere else?


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 04:17 PM

most of the singers clubs in ireland are unaccompanied , cork singers club, dublin singers club, skibbereen singers club, here is some info An Góilín is a traditional singer's club based in Dublin, Ireland. Our singing session takes place most Friday nights at the Teacher's Club, Parnell Square at around 9.30pm. See our calendar for a list of events.
Next Event

Friday, 23 November 2012: Mai Hernon

Singer Mai Hernon was born in the heart of Coleman County, Gurteen, Co Sligo. It is the birthplace of Michael Coleman, a rich hamlet of Irish culture where singers, flautists and fiddlers like Peter Horan, Fred Finn, Seamus Tansey, abound. We're really looking forward to featuring Mai as our guest after her visit to this years Frank Harte Festival. Club meets at 9:30 sharp. The Teacher's Club, Parnell Square. Entrance fee of €3.00, and all visitors/singers are welcome.
Calendar
Up and Coming Events...
2012-11-23         
Mai Hernon
2012-11-30         
Club Night
2012-12-07         
Club Night
2012-12-14         
Club Night
2012-12-21         
Puddin' Night with The Voice Squad
2012-12-28         
No Club

full calendar...
        
November, 2012 Su        Mo        Tu        We        Th        Fr        Sa
        1        2        3
4        5        6        7        8        9        10
11        12        13        14        15        16        17
18        19        20        21        22        23        24
25        26        27        28        29        30        
News


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: foggers
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 05:32 PM

Sheffield and the S Yorks area is a stronghold for unaccompanied singing. Two in Sheffield city are 2nd Thurs of month at Red Deer pub on Pitt Street (session is called "Raise the roof") and the emphasis is on bringing chorus songs for people to join in with. 4th Sunday of the month is a singers session at Kelham Island Tavern. The music is mainly english traditional with some gospel and union hymns, and they even tolerate my interest in traditional american songs too! Visitors will find a warm welcome, good beer and some truly heartwarming harmonies.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: PHJim
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 05:34 PM

I love a Capella singing, but my voice is not up to it for most songs. My brothers and I have done some quartet singing without instruments, but I'll leave the solo singing to someone else.

Something I heard someone say the other day bothered me a bit. They said that So-and-so would be worth going to see even if they didn`t make any music.
I asked if he meant if they just told jokes or stories.
He said he meant if they just sang unaccompanied.
Singing unaccompanied can be making music as much or more than playing an instrument.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 05:43 PM

PHJim, it doesn't matter if you have a great voice, most importantly is to convey the text to many songs in an interesting way. Sometimes, if you have a dramatic flair, you can even speak the songs as you would recite a poem. This is good if your song has great lyrics.

Also, if you pick a song with a great chorus, your audience will help you out.

The great thing about the song swaps in private homes is that no one is under pressure to be professional about it. If you find this group, you can get the confidence to sing solo.

If a song is interesting, it's hard to damage it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Tootler
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 07:09 PM

Sounds like a healthy development the OP is describing. May it prosper.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,John Condon
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 07:57 PM

There is a very health singing club circuit every month in County Clare.

On the first Wednesday of each month: Wolfe Tones GAA Club, Shannon.
First Friday: Duggan's Pub, Spancilhill with Robbie McMahon.

Second Wednesday: Highway Bar, Crusheen.
Second Friday: Cois na hAbhna, Gort Rd, Ennis.
Second Saturday: Shortt's Bar, Feakle.

Third Friday: Comerford's Bar, Doonbeg and/or O'Donoghue's Bar, Fanore.

Last Wednesday, Brogan's Bar, Ennis.
Last Friday, Whelan's Bar, Shanaglish (just over the Galway border)

The third Friday sessions run from October to May. All the others are all year round. Spoilt for choice we are!!


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 08:31 PM

I like the liberty to sing. I dislike the banning of instruments (except maybe the banjo and piano) and I think there should be a driving test for percussion.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: frogprince
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 08:43 PM

We have occasional song circles at the Flint Folk Music Society here in Michigan. Most participants happen to accompany themselves on guitar or banjo, but my wife generally sings some unaccompanied (and well), and occasionally there are one or two other unaccompanied participants. It's a very accepting group, and I've actually gotten up the nerve to do a couple of non-serious songs myself.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: breezy
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 05:24 AM

I have my reservations about

'If a song is interesting, it's hard to damage it.'

To be able to do justice to a song while singing without accompaniment requires above average singing ability.

The first prerequisite is a voice coupled with an ability to sing, preferably in tune

Its not for everyone, in fact sometimes its embarrassing . Apart from the fact you have to know the song thoroughly before launching it upon the unsuspecting ! listener, worse still if its a familiar song and known to the listener who will mentally compare it critically.

Even a certain Irish troupe damaged a well known song composed by one scottish immigrant to the land of Oz .


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 05:57 AM

gale force winds, breezy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLdYamFmM3g&feature=plcp


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 08:19 AM

I started out as an Unaccompanied singer (NOT easy to sing while playing a Whistle) but quickly discovered a LOT of songs that needed more Vocal ability than I had at that time (Mostly contemporary and written as Accompanied songs ) Hence learning Guitar , but with more experience I now sing a few more Unaccompanied songs .


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 08:26 AM

I used to sing Acapella and still like to do an unaccompanied song now and then. It was indeed very popular here in the UK but over the last decade or two seems to have rather declined. So come on folks, you don't need to be able to play an instrument to make a valued contribution to your local folk club


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: My guru always said
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 09:19 AM

I couldn't play an instrument if I tried! When singing unaccompanied I tend to focus on the song so much that I wouldn't be able to think about fingers or chords, if I even knew them *grin* I do admire singers who are able to accompany themselves!
Hils
ps. GSS & John Condon, thanks to for the info on sings, I'll make a note of them!


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 10:13 AM

I disagree with the notion that an unaccompanied song has to be sung with a perfect voice,
perfectly in pitch. Many traditional singers have raspy and often "pitchy" problems though they are able to communicate the important aspects of the song.

People with good voices can sometimes be dull performers.

A good song remains, however, without damage to it by non-professional singers without vocal training.

This calls into question: what is a good voice? Here's another circular discussion.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 10:14 AM

A few general rules:
Singing unaccompanied focuses the singer and audience's attention on the song, especially on its text. The highest praise any singer can receive is to be told, 'That was a great song'.
Practice, especially when singing unaccompanied, almost always results in improvement.
Singing it for years in a range of circumstances improves the relationship between singer and song.
When singing unaccompanied and solo you cannot sing out of tune - variation is the essence of traditional singing.

Actually, I've said this before:
The only rules are:
Sing
Sing only what you like
Permit yourself to alter what you do not like or do not understand
Allow other people the same right
Allow your songs to pass freely to others

If these rules are adhered to there is no threat to tradition - if I or anyone else mars a song with our changes, they will not survive, if I give someone a song and they make changes that are 'good', I get back more than I gave away.

And finally, don't worry about songs surviving. It is singing that preserves songs! SING!


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: DebC
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 10:24 AM

As an American, I used to feel very uncomfortable singing solo unaccompanied. I never heard anyone here in the USA do it. This was years ago. I also now realise that where I lived at the time, I was not exposed to live unaccompanied singing. The only unaccompanied solo singing I heard was on recordings.

It wasn't until I lived in Edinburgh (yes THAT Edinburgh) that I began to understand and learn about solo unaccompanied singing. I went to every singing session I could get to, listened and learned from many of the singers I encountered. Probably the most influential singers for me during that time were Cathal McConnell, Ray Fisher, Gordeanna McCulloch and Aileen Carr. Great teachers all.

When I came back to the US, I felt a lot more confident about my solo accompanied singing and at open mics, I would be the only person singing an accompanied traditional song.

I am glad to hear Frank say that it seems like this art is being revived.

BTW-John Roberts and I just did a concert last night and our good friend David Jones turned up. We asked him to sing and he did a fantastic version of Gordon Bok's "Fundy Bay". Solo unaccompanied of course :-)

Deb Cowan


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 10:46 AM

Knowing that John won't mention his song about singers clubs in Clare,

Here is a link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T18AKcoTSy0

The first line or so of the song is missed


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Tootler
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 12:05 PM

Plenty of unaccompanied singing here on Teesside. Mostly I hear more songs sung unaccompanied than sung with accompaniment, though both are welcomed, at least that's my experience.

Stringsinger's right you don't have to be pitch perfect to sing unaccompanied. It's about putting the song over. Getting the words clear and conveying your understanding of the song is more important than being absolutely on pitch.

I started out singing unaccompanied but I felt that some songs needed accompaniment so after trying various things, I settled on ukulele (I can imagine that being added to Richard Bridge's hate list). I like to have the choice.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,M0AFJ
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 12:25 PM

I run an Acapella night a couple of times a year in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes, its so popular that we cant get everyone in the bar, everything from solo singers, through barbershop to the local male voice (and femail)choirs.
Talk about make you feel good at the end of it..


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: frogprince
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 03:04 PM

Stringsinger and John Moulden are doing my heart good. Growing up I was told so often that I couldn't sing that I never even considered singing in public. So far as pitch is concerned, I'm still lucky to land somewhere near the dumpster. No one would, or should, ever pay to hear me sing. But I'm finding that I can share a song in an informal setting in a way that makes people appreciate the song.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Ged Fox
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 04:40 PM

I sing unaccompanied. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaXRQKKppGQ&feature=plcp

People obviously enjoy hearing it, as I frequently get requests, like "Can you sing 'Sweet and Low'?" or "Could you sing 'Over the hills and far away'?" or "Give us 'Blessed Quietness'."


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,Siobhan
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 07:32 PM

Heard John sing that song about the singers clubs of Clare recently.
Didn't realise it was on youtube. Thanks for the link.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: kendall
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 08:47 PM

I will not sing something that I don't understand. I ask what this or that means.
\And some people can most certainly sing off key without an instrument.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: kendall
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 08:50 PM

Oscar Brand did an album of sea songs and it was obvious that he has never been to sea. He changed words that made no sense to him and the ones he chose made no sense to a sailor.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: ollaimh
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 09:55 PM

irish and scottish un accompanied traditional singing is a high art form. however usually in cnada and the unites sttes you get to enjoy terrible performances by the instrumentally challenged. people who have no musical ability and whp put no effort in learning how to sing torture you forever if you let them.

run for your life


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,Pat
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 12:06 PM

Unaccompanied singing in Clare is very strong at present.

Long may it prosper.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the grand master of the art at present.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Speedwell
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 01:15 PM

The unaccompanied singing voice is certainly one of the easier instruments to carry to gigs.
It is perhaps one of the more difficult to impress people with (she "just" sings is a common comment - is that "just" as in "merely"?)but that doesn't mean it can't be worked on and improved over time.
Is there some idea out there that you have to improve your instrument technique (guitar, concertina for example ) but not your singing technique. Maybe.
Harmony folk singing is IMHO one of the greatest sounds (is that unaccompanied?).


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 01:56 PM

Everyone check out John Moulden's posting. He's got it right; from first word to the last. Bravo John.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 02:33 PM

We (Gordeanna McCulloch, Ronnie Clark and myself) have been running a Ballad Workshop in Glasgow for the past two years -- and it's deeply cheering and very heart-warming to report that we have a loyal and committed following who want to sing unaccompanied Child ballads.
And particularly interesting to us is that a very good proportion of our regulars are young! (Under 30, for those who want to know....)

We start from the principle that we should have an understanding of the narrative, as these are story songs; we may choose to add or delete verses according to personal preference; we work on a basic version of a chosen tune so that we can tweak it to fit the text, or tweak the text to fit the tune; and all the time we're aiming for a convincing version of a good story.

Could I just add that I'm entirely in agreement with John Moulden, and with Stringsinger -- it's the singer's commitment that makes a connection with a listener, not necessarily a pitch-perfect voice.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Noreen
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 02:33 PM

To follow on from Speedwell's question- the singing voice is an instrument too, which also has to be practised to get the best out of it.
Many people don't realise this, and think it's a binary 'can sing/can't sing' situation.

EVERY voice can be improved with practice.

Obviously, some people are naturally blessed with more to start with, but all can be improved, made more tuneful, with greater range and breath control, to make singing more enjoyable for both the singer and the listener :)

Unaccompanied singing is where song-making starts.

In my opinion, an instument should only be included to accompany if it ADDS something to the song. I have often heard a singer strumming away at a guitar, and wished they would put the guitar down and concentrate on the song and its presentaion..


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,schlimmerkerl
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 02:42 PM

Deirdre Murtha (of The Johnson Girls) runs a nice shanty sing in Rowayton Connecticut on (approximately) the middle Sunday of each month. Go here to download a PDF file with more info— http://www.rowaytonartscenter.org/news-and-events.php


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 04:21 PM

Gee, what a wonderful thread! All sorts of interesting tidbits hidden here. I think this is the first time I've heard a song with the name of George Henderson mentioned, and George is certainly worthy of mention. John, might you like to post the lyrics for us? I also hadn't heard of Songmakers in the Los Angeles area, and I've spent a lot of time without music in LA because I didn't know of them. And Dick Miles, I very much enjoyed your performance of Foggy Dew.

I think there's more unaccompanied singing in the U.S. than one would expect. Although instruments generally aren't discouraged in the U.S., I've rarely come across a session in the U.S. where I've felt unwelcome as an a cappella singer - and a number of U.S. sessions I've attended are mostly a cappella. A number of times in my early years at the Getaway (Washington DC) and once or twice at Camp Harmony (San Francisco), I've encountered uninvited guitar accompanists who tried to lead me where I didn't want to go. They don't do that any more.

For twenty years, I've been a member of the Sacramento Family Song Circle, which sings mostly out of the much-maligned Rise Up Singing songbook. The emphasis is on community singing, instead of on people singing solo with the group joining on choruses and occasional well-known songs. The previous Alpha Male of the group was a guitarist, so the group sang almost exclusively with guitar accompaniment for its first ten years or so. I guess I have to admit that I'm his successor, so people tend to follow my lead instead of a guitar nowadays - although we do have guitars about half the time.

When I first met her about seven years ago, our Catholic church choir director wouldn't dream of singing without accompaniment. Once she heard a duffer like Joe Offer singing a cappella, she figured out she could do it, too. Now she does it all the time, and she sounds absolutely stunning.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,Seonaid
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 04:41 PM

Great thread! Long live the original musical instrument!
Yes, thank you, Moulden, for a good synopsis of a capella tenets.
Bits of a capella continue in the USA, though out of the limelight.
I ran a regular Celtic-song workshop in Southern Calif for years.
The main rule was, no instruments!
The group learned tunes and words, and were advised that once they learned a song *as a song*, it was then theirs to perform as they wished.
I think I had good results in spreading the trad gospel.
(Thinking of starting it up again someday!)
Rock on, vocalists, and simply be honest with your material.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,John Condon
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 09:39 PM

Joe, my song is harmless enough but I will post the words tomorrow.

I do love songs that you feel and consequently sing better. The Croppy Boy would be my favourite song to sing. "Good men and true in this house do dwell...."

And... you are right.... George Henderson is deserving of at least a mention!!!!


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 12 - 06:48 AM

There are plenty of unaccompanied singers and singarounds in the Southwest of England, I'm pleased to say.

"To be able to do justice to a song while singing without accompaniment requires above average singing ability" (Breezy).   If the instrument's only role is to cover up inadequate singing, I'd rather not be the listener!

" .. we have a loyal and committed following who want to sing unaccompanied Child ballads ... We start from the principle that we should have an understanding of the narrative, as these are story songs…" (Anne Neilson)   In my opinion, many narrative songs are much better unaccompanied as most instruments used in "folk" force a rhythm that narratives don't need or want. I think many of the Child ballads are better unaccompanied as this encourages you to listen to the story more. Some other songs also benefit from the freedom that unaccompanied singing gives; particularly some of the Irish airs. Listening should not be passive but part of the creative process - folk song is a shared creation with the listener adding, in their own minds, to the singer's contribution.

It's all purely subjective of course but it seems to me that adding accompaniment to many songs is like squeezing someone into a suit that doesn't fit.

Here's a couple of my attempts at narrative and non-narrative which I think would be even worse if I tried to accompany them.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,SteveT
Date: 21 Nov 12 - 07:15 AM

Sorry - last Guest was me. Still get too excited when the blue clicky works for me!


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: kendall
Date: 21 Nov 12 - 07:46 AM

Off key singing makes the bottom of my feet hurt.I believe that an instrument helps the singer stay on key.
However, the instrument should never overpower the voice.


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Subject: ADD: The Singers' Clubs of Clare (John Condon)
From: GUEST,John Condon
Date: 21 Nov 12 - 07:54 AM

To Joe Offer:

THE SINGERS' CLUBS OF CLARE
©John Condon 2011

Come all my friends and listen to this tale I wish to tell
'Bout how there's all these singers clubs going strong in Clare quite well
Songs, recitations and tall yarns spun several times a week
All forms of entertainment no matter what you seek

'Twas the first Wednesday of the month, to Shannon town I drove
In to that GAA Club that's named after Wolfe Tone
Fine singers there and music too, the craic was mighty goin'
Top of the night Sean Callaghan sang "How's it going Lohan?"

First Friday night in Duggan's Pub it's the daddy of them all
With Robbie there in Spancilhill you'll always have a ball
They travel there from all around, from Tipp, Kildare and Bray
With Mike Duggan pulling pints right well in to the Saturday

Mick and Deirdre Scanlan keep the standard very high
With Mick Hackett singing strongly the night it seems to fly
George Henderson, Chris Ennis they sing and drink their beer
When PM Duggan sings a song, his wife she sheds a tear

The following Wednesday being the second in the month you see
I took myself to the Highway Bar to sing up in Crusheen
You'll always get a welcome from Madden, Faherty and crew
Eugene Lamb and Dave Harper they play a reel or two

Darren Richmond, Paddy Williams rarely miss a night
Gerry Mac, he sings of hurling you can see the sliotar fly
Colm MacLochlainn keeps it all in check with his trusty book and pen
Catherine Brigdale sings The Nightingale and we all love to join in

Two nights later Cois na hAbhna on the second Friday night
Another feast of entertainment they sing with all their might
Peadar Mac and his young librarian, Paddy Commane commands the floor
While Pat Liddy's chasing round after "Your One From Templemore"

The following night to Feakle, will I ever get a rest?
Great voices from East Clare I hear in Shortt's Bar I do not jest
With Robbie once again MC, proprietor Gerry singing proud
Theresa Purtill sings out crystal clear as her turn comes quickly round

A few days break at last and then I find myself in trouble
'Tis third Friday of the month there's singing sessions on the double
West or North which road to take? What am I going to do?
Sure 'tis great to be this spoilt for choice to sing a song or two

Sit in to the car and I'm off to Doonbeg town
Another chance to hear the West Clare Singers gathered round
Ita Comerford, the bean a ti, she's a lady to the core
Singing over and the sets do start, she's quick to take the floor

Or do I get behind the wheel and drive off to Fanore
O'Donoghue's is the venue, there's singers there galore
John Casey's in the chair, on everyone he calls
Gerry Shannon sings the Clogher Road and a hush it quickly falls

Last Wednesday of the month it's back to Ennis sure it's not far
With Locky behind the counter serving drink in Brogan's Bar
Noirin Lynch and Willie Cummins, great songs they have in store
Singing verses 'til the early hours, sure you couldn't ask for more

There's only one Friday left now, to Shanaglish I am bound
With Joe Kearney telling tall tales, a great night's to be found
But if you want to get a chance to sing you'd better pipe up loud
Cos singers and performers there are not scarce on the ground

Eight nights great entertainment every month you see
The price of petrol and your drinks is your admission fee
What talent to be heard for sure 'twould fill your heart with cheer
Now before I am asked to sing again.... I'll slip quietly out of here

    Well done, John. Thanks a lot. -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 12 - 10:59 AM

I was lucky enough to attend the singing session for Robbie McMahon's 85th birthday last December. Many of those mentioned in John's song were present.

The sheer passion of the singers and storytellers and the respect the audience showed them as they performed made it the best session I ever witnessed. There was not an accompanying instrument to be heard. Some were not the best singers you will here. But all knew how to deliver a song.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 21 Nov 12 - 11:18 AM

It's a lovely thing to do and doing it has been a great experience the past three or four years, though I know there are probably more folkies that dislike to listen to it than enjoy, so I tend to try to keep my contributions fairly minimal in a group setting.

Due to the lack of a supporting instrument, I definitely think it helps if you can get a bit of welly behind a song and 'project' as they say. Volume doesn't necessarily mean shouting of course, it can be done alongside ornamentation and a care for feel.

Learning a couple of new songs for the Lower Stoke Winter Sing on Sunday - about time I did so too.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Nov 12 - 01:50 PM

other things that help good condition of voice are, not smoking, keeping fit, breathing exercises, healthy diet, avoiding dairy products before singning and drinks with ice, ice constricts vocal chords. peggy Seegers vocal exercises are good


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 21 Nov 12 - 02:18 PM

FrogPrince, you may be giving people more pleasure in the sharing of your song without instruments.

Noreen, I agree with you wholeheartedly about guitarists and other accompanists
detracting and often ruining a good song. This is where the principle of "musicianship" comes into play. A good accompanist will never detract from the singer or the song and etiquette and taste enter into the picture.

I don't have a problem with singers who are "pitchy" (not in tune always) and some of my favorite singers have pitch problems but it doesn't get in the way of their enjoyable performance. On the other hand, I have heard singers with great pitch that have lifeless and boring interpretations of songs.

Of course anyone can learn to sing "better" if this is defined by singing naturally, with good breath support, lack of strain, not shouting (as some folkies try to do),
and a familiarity with the tune even though it may not be perfectly executed.
One of the reasons I always admired Burl Ives is that his guitar playing was simple enough to offer support for his voice and not get in the way. I think a case can be made for "zingshpeil", talking the song in an interesting way such as did Richard Burton in "Camelot" or Rex Harrison in "My Fair Lady".

I don't care that Leadbelly may not be on pitch all the time or many blues and folk musicians.

For those who want to accompany a song, themselves, they would be advised to learn to sing the song unaccompanied first and then add only the instrumental ideas that supported their interpretation.

The world of folk music would not be as rich without some instrumentation for some songs, maybe not used in Child Ballads or long narratives (here, an accompaniment could become repetitive and boring after the 10th verse), but I have great admiration for Peggy Seeger's interpretation of ballads and her entirely appropriate accompaniments. The best recording of her half-brother Pete is his ten inch
album, "Darling Corey" where each accompaniment to traditional songs is in my opinion exquisite.

Erik Darling's recording of "True Religion" features a great rendition of "Babe, I'm Gonna' Leave You" and with the Weavers, a highlight called "Train Time". This includes subtle and interesting instrument backing which in opinion detracts not one bit
from his interpretation.

Many African artists accompany themselves on M'bira, Kora, with drums, and Indian singers accompany themselves on the Vina, all without detracting one bit from their performance.

I admire Bruce Molsky's singing and interpretations along with his fiddle as well.

There should be room for both in song swaps and singalongs. A song can be ruined only by those who don't understand it from the standpoint of meaning, background,
and dramatic intent. If these elements are not here, then it matters not if it's accompanied or unaccompanied.

To give you an idea of an unfortunate interpretation by a talented performer, in the early days of the "folk boom", Stan Wilson sang "Waltzing Matilda" as a three/quarter
waltz time accompaniment. I've made the mistake myself in interpreting Gail Gardner's "Tying a Knot in the Devil's Tale" by ignorantly proclaiming that the "Syree Petes" referred to the Sierras rather than the range overlooking Prescott, Arizona.
In Gardner's appropriate criticism, "if you're gonna' sing a cowboy song, you have to know which end of the horse to face."

So my contention is if a singer does his/her homework on the background and meaning of the song, it doesn't matter if it's accompanied by them or not.

At the same time, it's the height of insults for a guitarist to try to make an unaccompanied song "more musical" by intruding his/her personality
on a performer.

I for one, enjoy listening to a story song that may be twenty or more verses long sung unaccompanied but with an honest understanding of it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST,John Condon
Date: 21 Nov 12 - 09:38 PM

The launch of the dvd "Last Night As I lay dreaming" takes place on Friday night next, 23rd Nov, in Cois na hAbhna, Gort Road, Ennis.

The film depicts the contribution Robbie McMahon has made to Irish culture. The launch will be followed by a singing session.

Robbie is a doubtful starter on the night, having suffered a heart attack last weekend. The good news is he is recovering well and is keen to be at the launch.

Which or whether here's hoping for a good recovery.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Nov 12 - 08:15 AM

Deirdre Scanlan, a regular visitor to Spancilhill singing sessions on the first Friday of each month, sings "The Leaving of Limerick".


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Nov 12 - 08:17 AM

Oops.... the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ1Oh62rWI0


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Nov 12 - 09:58 AM

Generalizations about folk music are utterly pointless without some agreement about what kind of music you're talking about. In the US, at least, there are several rich traditions whinch virtually demand accompaniment (haow many a-capella blues do you know of?)
Poor musicianship can louse up either accompanied or unaccompanied singing.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 22 Nov 12 - 10:10 AM

actually, the blues started off as a field holler by transplanted slaves, and this was unaccompanied. Leadbelly was the first folk artist to accompany chain gang songs,
related to the field holler. Vera Hall, one of the great African-American folk singers sang unaccompanied. Her "Boll Weevil" is a classic.

The African-American spiritual was sung unaccompanied and later reoriented instrumentally into the church gospel music.

I agree, however, that bad musicianship can louse either acc. or unacc. singing.

A notable example of unaccompanied singing was the opening of Oklahoma, where Curly sings unaccompanied, "Oh What A Beautiful Morning".

Iron Head Baker was one of the great chain gang singers who had no accompaniment.

What we know of the blues today is basically the Chicago electric guitar school popularized by Muddy Waters and Big Bill Broonzy, who later went acoustic. The origins of the blues are decidedly unaccompanied.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Nov 12 - 03:36 PM

With that post by Stringy I can agree.

I thoroughly enjoy good unaccompanied folk song - and both My Guru and CS are prime examples of modern revelators or interpreters of solo folk song without instrumental accompaniment. Both of them however have impeccable pitch, and one of the first things to put me off about solo unaccompanied singing is poor relative pitch.

I'm not so bothered about vocal harmony drifting up or down over a song so long as the parts are in with each other, but it is still very undesirable and I will re-arrange a song up and down keys until it gets to the one where drift is least. Bad for melodeon players!

Song delivery fashions do however move on, and I like to add guitar and mandolin and percussion accompaniment. More shortly.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 12:00 PM

Well, the launch of the dvd "Last Night As I Lay Dreaming" went ahead last night. Robbie McMahon himself was absent due to illness. We wish him well in his recovery.

A fine night of singing followed the lunch.

This is Robbie in full voice with his own composition:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fzC9mzhuUI


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Subject: RE: Review: Unaccompanied singing
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 06:27 PM

Frank-
I know full well where blues originated, but what we know of the blues today is not limited to Chicago style electric blues--I'd submit that many more people were influenced by the likes of Josh White and Brownie Maghee. In any case, blues, generally speaking, are accompanied. As is a goodly portion of old-timey music(actually, much old-timey music is instrumental, with a vocal accompaniment). As was, as you may recall, a great deal of your earlier work.


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