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Repeating first verse at the end

Richard Mellish 14 Aug 15 - 05:14 PM
DMcG 14 Aug 15 - 05:21 PM
PHJim 14 Aug 15 - 06:33 PM
maeve 14 Aug 15 - 06:51 PM
Bonzo3legs 15 Aug 15 - 04:51 AM
Jack Campin 15 Aug 15 - 07:26 AM
Mo the caller 15 Aug 15 - 08:20 AM
GUEST,leeneia 15 Aug 15 - 10:36 AM
Roger the Skiffler 15 Aug 15 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Desi C 15 Aug 15 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 15 Aug 15 - 01:31 PM
GUEST 15 Aug 15 - 01:40 PM
Steve Shaw 15 Aug 15 - 01:44 PM
GUEST,pete from seven stars link 15 Aug 15 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,# 15 Aug 15 - 03:22 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Aug 15 - 03:53 PM
kendall 15 Aug 15 - 03:59 PM
GUEST,Musket 15 Aug 15 - 04:18 PM
Richard Mellish 15 Aug 15 - 04:41 PM
Joe Offer 15 Aug 15 - 05:11 PM
GUEST,matt milton 15 Aug 15 - 05:18 PM
maeve 15 Aug 15 - 08:11 PM
Jack Campin 15 Aug 15 - 08:46 PM
Joe Offer 15 Aug 15 - 09:16 PM
Ged Fox 16 Aug 15 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,LynnH 16 Aug 15 - 01:59 PM
MGM·Lion 16 Aug 15 - 02:31 PM
GUEST,LynnH 17 Aug 15 - 03:48 AM
GUEST,matt milton 17 Aug 15 - 04:19 AM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 17 Aug 15 - 11:30 AM
The Sandman 17 Aug 15 - 12:18 PM
The Sandman 17 Aug 15 - 04:56 PM
Tattie Bogle 17 Aug 15 - 06:24 PM
GUEST,matt milton 18 Aug 15 - 03:31 AM
GUEST,matt milton 18 Aug 15 - 03:32 AM
GUEST,LynnH 18 Aug 15 - 03:46 AM
wysiwyg 18 Aug 15 - 08:08 AM
GUEST 18 Aug 15 - 08:16 AM
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Subject: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 14 Aug 15 - 05:14 PM

I was intending to raise this some time ago, but I've looked back over my postings and can't find it. If it is already there somewhere, apologies.

One of my pet hates is a singer repeating the first verse at the end. I grant that it may work well in a few instances, but in many instances it just prolongs the song (which is especially annoying if the singer has left some verses out) and sometimes it makes a nonsense of the story. A glaring instance, which I've heard from several singers, possibly because they all got it from the same source, is the one that opens "I wonder what's keeping my true love tonight". By the end of the song, even if it's not totally clear who's saying what, it is clear that both partners know that this particular romance is over. There is no more wondering what has happened. So the "I wonder" verse just doesn't fit at all. And yet they all sing it again.

This may be simply a particular instance of a common syndrome of learning words more or less parrot-fashion and singing them without giving enough thought to their meaning.

End of whinge. Switch off cantankerous old curmudgeon persona.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: DMcG
Date: 14 Aug 15 - 05:21 PM

I'd agree so far as it shouldn't just be done automatically or out of habit. But there are certainly cases where it works well. Rosie Anderson, for example, is one I'd say.,

But it is also a stylistic device, so naturally people's views will cover everything from love through indifference to hate. And in this form whether it actually makes sense in story terms isn't important.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: PHJim
Date: 14 Aug 15 - 06:33 PM

Many times it works well. Sometimes just the first line can be repeated.

Fred Eaglesmith's "High Heels In The Rain" starts and ends with the line, "The last time I seen (sic) her she was standin' on the corner in front of the town café." Somehow it works.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: maeve
Date: 14 Aug 15 - 06:51 PM

Hi, Richard. Does this linked thread ring a bell? :) RE: Repeating first verse at the end


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 04:51 AM

Get a life!


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 07:26 AM

I was intending to raise this some time ago, but I've looked back over my postings and can't find it. If it is already there somewhere, apologies.

One of my pet hates is a singer repeating the first verse at the end. I grant that it may work well in a few instances, but in many instances it just prolongs the song (which is especially annoying if the singer has left some verses out) and sometimes it makes a nonsense of the story. A glaring instance, which I've heard from several singers, possibly because they all got it from the same source, is the one that opens "I wonder what's keeping my true love tonight". By the end of the song, even if it's not totally clear who's saying what, it is clear that both partners know that this particular romance is over. There is no more wondering what has happened. So the "I wonder" verse just doesn't fit at all. And yet they all sing it again.

This may be simply a particular instance of a common syndrome of learning words more or less parrot-fashion and singing them without giving enough thought to their meaning.

End of whinge. Switch off cantankerous old curmudgeon persona.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Mo the caller
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 08:20 AM

Ah,but Jack. It's not the end.

Of course you could keep repeating a verse, as a chorus.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 10:36 AM

Why repeat?

1. The song's not long enough.

2. People want to know when the song's over. There are a lot of ways we signal that, and repeating the first verse is simply one of them.

3. We tend to put the most important elements of a song at the beginning, and repeating the first verse brings them back into prominence.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 11:00 AM

I agree with leenia- those 3 reasons are ones I'd use as criteria. BUT why should everything be Right or Wrong? Why should we all do the same thing?

I'm as curmudgeonly as the next man but I don't expect other people to like what i like.

RtS
(grumpy old git- with the T-shirt to prove it)


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 01:10 PM

I'm all for not prolonging songs, very Folky Folk singyers in particular often sing incredibly long dirges. But For Country songs, many were restricted to a couple of quick verses to suit old radio shows and juke boxes repeating a first verse became almost neccessary


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 01:31 PM

It's bloody annoying and is generally only done where the singer thinks the song isn't long enough. In other words, they feel they've waited quite long enough in the singaround and now it's their turn to have a fair crack of the whip. Thanks, but if you told the story with the existing verses, repeating the first ain't gonna add nuffin' to it.

CTTOI, if you're next in the queue, try singing the longest version of any ballad you can think of and throw in a repeat of the first verse. I guarantee, your first verse repeater will be the first to moan.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 01:40 PM

Artistic emphasis through repetition of important elements.

Thematically closing the circle of the song by restating the intro.

This may be simply a particular instance of a common syndrome of learning words more or less parrot-fashion and singing them without giving enough thought to their meaning.
Never. Sort of insulting, in fact.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 01:44 PM

Not as bad as speaking the last line or the song's title at the end!


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 03:16 PM

I think it can be a nice touch , assuming you don't feel you have to slavishly keep to the original, to change the repeat verse in some way that winds it up neatly.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,#
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 03:22 PM

I think I'd like to know what the song is first.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 03:53 PM

So it works well with some songs, and doesn't with others. Nothing for anyone to argue with in t hat, so why argue about it.

Considering why it works when it does, now that is an interesting enough topic. It's a tried and tested technique in all kinds of narrative, an ending which escoes, sometimes repeats the first words of the piece in question. Finnegan's Wake, the novel, for example. I've never heard anyone doing it with Finnegan's Wake, the song, but it'd make sense enough - it'd take you back to the beginning, but a beginning seen in a slightly different way, because of how the story worked out. With a familiar story that's less effective than with a newly heard one, but even so it can be effective enough.

One reason of course why a singer might do this is because that's the way they learnt it from someone they respect. Which is a very good reason indeed.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: kendall
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 03:59 PM

I'd rather hear a simple instrument riff at the end.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 04:18 PM

Rather stunning.

How many people don't begin to understand or appreciate artistic licence.

Why they log into an artistic Web site is beyond me.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 04:41 PM

Thank you Maeve for finding the earlier thread. So I was right that I had raised it before, but too dim to be able to find it. Ho hum!


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 05:11 PM

I think most of us agree that we just can't simply stop singing to end a song. We have to bring the song to some sort of resolution.

Repeating the first verse is just one of many devices a singer can use to resolve and end a song. It works well in some circumstances, and not so well in others. And as with all musical devices, it can drive an audience batty if used too much.

I sing with a group that likes to sing together. If I'm singing a song that doesn't have a chorus, I'll sometimes sing the first verse at the end to give the others a chance to sing in harmony with me. It works very well on many songs.

If there's an instrumental break at the end of a song, sometimes it's nice to close the song with a re-singing of the first verse or the chorus.

Or, sometimes the first verse gives a rational conclusion to the song, especially if that verse tells the theme or a summary of the message of a song.

As with most things in music, there is no need for a hard-and-fast rule. And on top of that, the decision should be left to the singer. The job of the audience is to listen, not to set rules for other singers.

-Joe-

I'll be I'm not the only one here who sings Four Marys with the first verse at the beginning and end. I leave out the apostrophe at the end of "Marys," though....


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 05:18 PM

I do it in a couple of songs. Always for sound artistic reasons. I wouldn't do it if it didn't add something to those specific songs. End of story.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: maeve
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 08:11 PM

You're welcome, Richard. You're not the first!

Maeve


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 08:46 PM

I often hear people doing that with "Down by the Salley Gardens".

Two four-line verses. Yes it's short. It works fine with two.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Aug 15 - 09:16 PM

So what about "Four Marys," Jack?

    Last night there were four Marys
    Tonight there'll only be three
    There was Mary Eaton, an' Mary Beaton
    And Mary Carmichael and me


-Joe, querulously-


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Ged Fox
Date: 16 Aug 15 - 12:05 PM

"If there's an instrumental break at the end of a song" there's another annoying bad habit that people do without thinking whether it is meaningful or not.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 16 Aug 15 - 01:59 PM

To reiterate what I posted in the other thread............It all depends upon the story being told in the song being sung. In some cases it's plainly senseless and adds nothing, in others it serves to wrap up the story.

Take Paul Metsers' song "Farewell to the Gold"- the last line of the first verse is...."I'll pack up, I'll make the break clean." That is a marvellous line to finish the song with if you leave off the chorus. Try it!

There are also some ballads where repeating the first verse really wraps things up ..... "Little Musgrave/Matty Groves" where it serves as a sort of repeated admonishment- 'now you know what can happen to you boys if you go to church to ogle the girls' sort of thing. I can imagine finishing "Alison Gross" with the first half of the first verse because there's a similar effect. Of course, talking about the ballads, it all depends upon which version of the particular ballad it is that you've chosen to sing.

Richard Thompson's "Withered and Died" is even written to end on the repeated first verse.

Come to think of it, I've written a song where, when I got to it, I realised that the only way to finish it was to repeat the first verse- but without the chorus.

To sum up, there are songs which are deliberately so written, there are songs where the repeat wraps up the story and there are the rest where it's obviously a quirk of the singer.

To be nasty for a moment...it sounds as though some people need to think a bit more about what they're actually singing.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Aug 15 - 02:31 PM

It does indeed depend on the song. Sometimes it feels appropriate, tho generally not, I should say. I usually eg end "The Skillet Pot" by speaking the last line of the last chorus, only because it seems to me to fit there. But I shouldn't dream of doing it on every song. "Butter & Cheese & All" I sing semi cante-fable, with a line, or even a word or two, spoken every now & again. Both these are songs I sing unaccompanied. In Butter&Cheese I do make the last verse a sort of repeat of the first, with variations; so that "Well, now you call on me to sing I'll see what I can do" becomes in last verse "So, then, you called on me to sing & I've showed what I could do", &c.

You can hear what I mean on my youtube channel

http://www.youtube.com/user/mgmyer

But I agree that such shtick should be used sparingly, and certainly not done every time whether it feels right or not so that it takes the whole gig over.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 17 Aug 15 - 03:48 AM

With a song like "A'begging I will go", particularly if it's Martin Carthy's Thatcher era version (updated to 'David C.') that's being sung, repeating the first verse serves to underline the sarcasm(?) inherent in the song.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 17 Aug 15 - 04:19 AM

It's worth remembering that not everything in a song is about this-then-that narrative. Taken to an absurd conclusion, one could object to choruses for the same reason.

There's plenty of other things that don't make sense from a literal storytelling point of view in folk songs. So many songs shift from third-person narrative to first-person narrative without any reason or explanation. "He" or "she" or "this fair maid" or "this lord" abruptly becomes "I".

Nobody objects to flashback in a movie; that's effectively what a last-verse-repetition is for song.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 17 Aug 15 - 11:30 AM

I `ad that Roger the Skiffler in my cab the other day. `e`d just come out of the "Groan & Grouse" after `aving `ad `is daily rant with all the other grumpy old gits that get in there. I could tell `cos `e `ad "Doom Bar" spilled all down `is T-Shirt that said, "I`m old enough to Grumble!"
I said, "Afternoon Rog. `ere, I see you've been `aving a go on that Mudcat about repeating the first verse at the end of the song."
`e said, "S`right Jim, blooming nonsense. Anyway I overcame any problems about that yonks ago what with people commenting about it and what `ave you."
I said, "Oh yeah, What do you do, then?"
`e said, "I sing the first verse twice at the start!!"

Whaddam I Like??


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Aug 15 - 12:18 PM

yes , I heard this nonsense from lou killen, a 10 minute rant about why you should not sing the last verse again, talk about dogmatic waffle. , it really depends on the song and the circumstances, if the performer has a good chorus singing audience it makes absolute sense, unless it weakens the story.
lou killen was very wrong imo to take such a dogmatic line. IT DEPENDS


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Aug 15 - 04:56 PM

I think Lou was an excellent singer, just disagree with the rigidity of "never repeat the first verse" at the end of a song


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 17 Aug 15 - 06:24 PM

A lot of people do it with "Bonnie Glen Shee" - especially if they do the 3-verse version, just to make it a bit longer. (Oh here comes the weather forecast again!) But there are some more verses, in which case, no need to do v1 again.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 18 Aug 15 - 03:31 AM

I repeat the first verse ("I must be going, no longer staying" etc) of The Grey Cock (Penguin book version). I also cut one of the verses. I think it works, needless to say, otherwise I wouldn't do it.

I also repeat the first verse of 'The Mermaid' ("One night as I lay on my bed" etc) and cut several verses from it – I don't bother with the whole retinue of crew-members stepping up ("then up stepeped the..."). The repetition of the first verse reinforces a suggestion that the whole thing is a possibly dream. Possibly, though not definitively.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 18 Aug 15 - 03:32 AM

My favourite version of 'Little Musgrave' is by James Yorkston. He repeats the first verse despite the fact that he sings every verse of this long ballad. In this instance, making a long song even longer, it adds to a sense of the epic. Yorkston's version gives the strongest sense I've yet heard of all the characters of the ballad being a sort of tragic community, a close-knit village whose fates could not possibly be other than intertwined. Everyone knows each other, everyone has their place. The repetition of the first line reinforces that.

One reason why repetition of the first line is so powerful when it works is that it implies a cycle. As if the events of the song are about to happen all over again and that the story is happening over and over again throughout the ages. An unbreakable circle.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 18 Aug 15 - 03:46 AM

Like all of us, Lou was entitled to her opinions. Hopefully she also realised, like most of us, that the 'folk scene' doesn't go in for commandments on tablets of stone. Who knows-perhaps she carefully chose her songs so that the problem never arose for her.

I can't help wondering whether part of this overblown problem is that people don't always pay attention to what's being sung. Looking back through some old set-lists I realised that I sing a couple of songs where the last verse starts like the first but, depending upon the structure, one or two lines are slightly different. A listener not paying full attention might well miss the, perhaps subtle, changes and assume I'd repeated verse 1.


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: wysiwyg
Date: 18 Aug 15 - 08:08 AM

In AfAm spirituals, this was done with verse or refrain to signal the ending of one song to ready folks for the start of the new song. Of course they were much smarter, then, than the more-clueless among today's performers. ;-)

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Repeating first verse at the end
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Aug 15 - 08:16 AM

Life's too short for sad endings, if it started happy then end it happy !


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