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Do you listen to the words?

GUEST,FloraG 08 Feb 17 - 03:35 AM
Leadfingers 08 Feb 17 - 03:47 AM
Snuffy 08 Feb 17 - 03:59 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 08 Feb 17 - 04:12 AM
GUEST,padgett 08 Feb 17 - 04:28 AM
mg 08 Feb 17 - 04:31 AM
Doug Chadwick 08 Feb 17 - 05:00 AM
BobKnight 08 Feb 17 - 05:08 AM
Roger the Skiffler 08 Feb 17 - 05:33 AM
JHW 08 Feb 17 - 05:41 AM
banjoman 08 Feb 17 - 05:43 AM
Kampervan 08 Feb 17 - 05:58 AM
Leadfingers 08 Feb 17 - 06:06 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 17 - 06:07 AM
Stanron 08 Feb 17 - 06:14 AM
GUEST,Ed 08 Feb 17 - 06:57 AM
Johnny J 08 Feb 17 - 07:12 AM
Phil Cooper 08 Feb 17 - 07:54 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 17 - 08:12 AM
GUEST 08 Feb 17 - 08:26 AM
Jack Campin 08 Feb 17 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,Ed 08 Feb 17 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,Raggytash 08 Feb 17 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,FloraG 08 Feb 17 - 09:41 AM
GUEST 08 Feb 17 - 09:43 AM
Joe Nicholson 08 Feb 17 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,John P 08 Feb 17 - 10:46 AM
GUEST 08 Feb 17 - 10:47 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 17 - 10:56 AM
Joe Nicholson 08 Feb 17 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,padgett 08 Feb 17 - 01:03 PM
keberoxu 08 Feb 17 - 01:09 PM
Ebbie 08 Feb 17 - 01:25 PM
Trevor 08 Feb 17 - 02:40 PM
David Carter (UK) 08 Feb 17 - 02:52 PM
Joe Offer 08 Feb 17 - 03:55 PM
Airymouse 08 Feb 17 - 04:24 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Feb 17 - 06:12 PM
FreddyHeadey 08 Feb 17 - 06:39 PM
Tattie Bogle 08 Feb 17 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 08 Feb 17 - 08:41 PM
The Sandman 08 Feb 17 - 08:46 PM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 09 Feb 17 - 11:28 AM
The Sandman 09 Feb 17 - 12:38 PM
Will Fly 09 Feb 17 - 12:58 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Feb 17 - 01:12 PM
GUEST,LynnH 09 Feb 17 - 01:23 PM
GUEST 09 Feb 17 - 01:49 PM
MikeL2 09 Feb 17 - 02:46 PM
Tattie Bogle 09 Feb 17 - 03:04 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Feb 17 - 03:28 PM
mg 09 Feb 17 - 04:14 PM
GUEST,padgett 09 Feb 17 - 04:25 PM
GUEST 09 Feb 17 - 04:36 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Feb 17 - 04:51 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Feb 17 - 04:57 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Feb 17 - 05:10 PM
FreddyHeadey 09 Feb 17 - 05:39 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Feb 17 - 05:59 PM
Bill D 09 Feb 17 - 06:48 PM
Doug Chadwick 09 Feb 17 - 07:30 PM
GUEST,Larry Saidman 09 Feb 17 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,FloraG 10 Feb 17 - 03:34 AM
Steve Gardham 10 Feb 17 - 01:28 PM
robomatic 10 Feb 17 - 03:25 PM
The Sandman 10 Feb 17 - 03:28 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Feb 17 - 04:08 PM
GUEST,Jo-Jo folkagogo 10 Feb 17 - 04:35 PM
robomatic 10 Feb 17 - 08:29 PM
GUEST,Desi C 11 Feb 17 - 12:20 PM
EBarnacle 11 Feb 17 - 03:00 PM
Richard Mellish 11 Feb 17 - 03:21 PM
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Subject: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 03:35 AM

Is it my age or do others find themselves not listening to the words of many artists?


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 03:47 AM

If it's a song , surely the words are the most important component ?


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Snuffy
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 03:59 AM

The words should be the most important component.

But many recordings do not give the impression that the artist(s) shares that opinion.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 04:12 AM

I never used to listen to song words, it was always the tune. All those sixtys and seventys hits that know well but can't recognise any of the words.

It always amazed me in those musical quiz/panel shows where they had to identify hits from the words; I never got any of them.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 04:28 AM

This is the main problem in music ~ I learn the words and they are the most important aspect in folk song as they tell the STORY, if you can't hear the words how can the story fit together?

Folk artists are moving gradually into musical arrangements based on the folk song tune and discarding the folk story ~ this is just awful ~ the reason is more to do with big stage production and giving "voice" to the instrumentalists ~ a self enhancement with little thought for the audience who are being deprived in many cases of the sentiments and story line and understanding of the song purpose

We must be careful I think, and the gradual move towards popular music is an inevitable conclusion ~ folk song is folk song and should be audible and understandable without much amplification and accompaniment (if any)

Ray


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: mg
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 04:31 AM

i don't listen well to the words. just the way my brain works, even when i tell myself i have to listen to the words my brain just goes away from them ...i generally don't know what the words are..most of them..unless i read them...i know phrases and lines perhaps but i rarely know the story...i am more of a tune person...but i get the jist of it usually i hope..thisis about a shipwreck/flowers in may/jilted lover etc.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 05:00 AM

The words should be the most important component.


..... if you can't hear the words how can the story fit together?



That may be true only in the narrow world of folk music.

The popularity of opera, sung in Italian, German or whatever, amongst anglophones suggests that only the most basic grasp of the story-line is required for enjoyment. The words are important. but for their musicality rather than their meaning. My father-in-law always preferred to listen to opera in the original language as he reckoned that translations put the "ee"s, the "oo"s and the "ah"s in the wrong places as the music went high or low. For him, this outweighed the need to follow the plot within the song itself.

In other genres, words are less important. The lack of a good story line never held back Little Richard.

DC


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: BobKnight
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 05:08 AM

Well, seems for some folk I've been wasting my time trying to right lyrics with meaning - when a few grunts and mewls would do the same.
Nah! It's all about the lyrics, telling a story, and well wrapped up in a nice tune. If you don't want to listen to the words, that's fine, because I'll be writing songs for those who DO listen to the words - I know I do. You'll never find a meaningless, la la la la la line in any of my songs.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 05:33 AM

I try to but so many young singers don't enunciate clearly, just mumble.
(Yes I know I'm half deaf, but I can hear others clearly)
RtS


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: JHW
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 05:41 AM

Agree very much with Raymond and others. There certainly are PERFORMERS out there who think the performance matters more than the song.
SINGERS know better. I'll admit it's usually the melody that grabs me first but unless you listen to the song the singer is wasting his/her time so yes I do my best to listen as I do my best to put the words over when it's my turn to sing.
Chris Coe (I'm told) said "You should always stand behind the song, never in front"


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: banjoman
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 05:43 AM

I find that a lot of modern music of all genres drowns out most of the words anyway.
Words are important, but often the music sets the tone or scene for them. Otherwise the words often seem meaningless.
My favourite (Tom Paxton) shows how to make words work and every word is clear and needs little effort to hear
I agree with the comments about opera, but its necessary to actually know the story beforehand, the words then make some sense.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Kampervan
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 05:58 AM

Words, words, words. Without being able to understand the words I get less than half the experience.

I know what people mean about opera, there are some arias where the music is just so wonderful that it transports you. But, the majority of the music in most operas is not like that and, without understanding the words, I find it pretty boring.

60's 70's pop music I understood and could sing along with. Still remember most of the owrds too.

Folk music - if it's a song then listening to and understanding the words are essential, otherwise it's an instrumental! IMHO of course.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 06:06 AM

I THOUGHT this was supposed to be a Folk and Blues site , so why the input about bloody Pop songs ??


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 06:07 AM

A question such as this needs to be qualified - what kind of song are you discussing.
English language folk song is word based and largely narrative so the words are essential - ideally, they take precedence over the accompaniment but, unfortunately, more often than not nowadays, the music acts as a distraction.
Popular song (pop music) used to be word based, but that is no longer the case - most of the time it is impossible to follow the words of modern pop-songs anyway.
Opera is interesting in that it is a balance between words and music and can be appreciated either way - as narrative (if you are conversant with the language or the plot) or simply as beautiful music.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Stanron
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 06:14 AM

One of the reasons I prefer tune sessions to song sessions is poorly iterated lyrics. I'm left wondering if it is my ears or their diction. The long notes sung are all vowels. Consonants before and after these vowels are crucial in defining content. It should be singer's 101 but it seems not to be. Or am I going deaf? Let's play a tune.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 06:57 AM

why the input about bloody Pop songs

Because there aren't any physical boundaries between musical genres, Leadfingers. And, thankfully, the discussion of all types of music is welcome here. The home page no longer even makes mention of 'Folk and Blues'.

I'm very much in the music first camp, whatever the genre. When I first became interested in folk, it was the overall sound that appealed to me. Whilst I've become more interested in the words over time, there are still a lot of traditional songs (even some performed unaccompanied) that I love but don't have much idea what the story is.

If I just enjoy the sound, what's wrong with that?

What applies to opera also applies to so called 'World Music'. For example, when I first heard this traditional Malian song I hadn't a clue what it was about. I still found it sublime.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=voz6u3efBaA


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Johnny J
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 07:12 AM

Words can be very important but if they are set to a naff melody or performed with a poor arrangement, many people just won't listen long long enough to appreciate the content or follow the story.

That's where most so called singer songwriters fall down...with weak melodies. Maybe, they'd be as well off sticking to poetry or prose?

Of course, a lot of songwriters adopt the trick of adding the lyrics to an existing melody or "stealing the tune". Sometimes it works but, quite often, it does an injustice to the melody or original song.

So, please, songwriters. Do try to get both things right. The melody and arrangement is extremely important too. There's no need to be too clever either or a virtuoso musician to compose a nice melody though. "Simple" is often better.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 07:54 AM

Yes, I listen to the words. I know some music appreciators who listen to the overall combination of instrumentation and words, but the words are secondary. I think that's just how their brain works. I like well constructed words and a good tune. I have a slight contrarian streak in that if I'm at a primarily singing session I sometimes wish someone would play a tune, while at an instrumental session, I think here's where a good song would fit in. I try to actually not break up the vibe of a gathering, but the thought's there.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 08:12 AM

"Words can be very important but if they are set to a naff melody or performed with a poor arrangement,"
Similarly, if they have great tunes and sung well, but accompanied badly, they are equally rejected - as should be the case.
Good singing can transform a "naff melody" into an indefensible aspect of the song - some of our greatest ballads have melodies, when separated from the words, are as dull as ditch-water.
Peggy Seeger once gave an excellent lecture on accompaniment in which she said, If you find yourself listening to the instrument, the song is not working".
She also said, "The first thing to decide about accompaniment is whether it is necessary - if it isn't don't bother".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 08:26 AM

You're probably right Phil. Each to their own.

I think it also depends on the song. Chris Woods' excellent and very powerful Hollow Point wouldn't be worth anything like as much if you didn't listen to the words. Other songs however have such a strong melody that words are indeed secondary.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 08:29 AM

One of the reasons I prefer tune sessions to song sessions is poorly iterated lyrics.

I don't think you meant to say that... in the worst singarounds I've been to the lyrics have been very well iterated.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 08:47 AM

Peggy Seeger said, "If you find yourself listening to the instrument, the song is not working"

I have to respectfully disagree with Peggy here. There are plenty of songs where the arrangement/instrumentation make them.

Whether it's to your personal taste or not, I think you'd be hard pushed to suggest that, despite its lyrics being completey meaningless, Procul Harum's A Whiter Shade Of Pale doesn't work.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 08:57 AM

Last night in our weekly session a woman starting singing, she had a good voice, very tuneful ............ except that her diction was poor and her timing was not too clever either. A real pity because it spoilt the songs for me.

The words in most folk songs are the most important bit to my mind.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 09:41 AM

I heard a bit of the song about the Chinese cockle pickers today on radio 4. I can't help but listen to the words on a song like that. Except for the work songs, I always thought that what mostly separates a folk song from a pop song was the telling of a story.

A little while ago we did a folk dance session for a primary school in Rochester and to give the children a breather we sang ' The Rochester Recruiting Sergeant'. I don't think we mumble, but the children were quite poor at picking up what the song was about. I think there might be a PHd in researching how and when ( if ever ) children actually listen to song words, and how many adults do.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 09:43 AM

My observation is that there are many current writers of pop songs who write very good lyrics. I do listen to words and I find a lot of current music to be very interesting lyrically. All genres of music provide great pleasure for me, I don't write any of them off, good songs and music are still with us.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Joe Nicholson
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 10:27 AM

Where I live there are no words to listen to because are no songs to listen to. The people who used to sing sing no more they have taken up instruments which they only want to play constantly and sadly have no time or place for song.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,John P
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 10:46 AM

If the lyrics are great, I listen to the lyrics. If the tune is great, I listen to the tune. Best, of course, is when they are both great. I was first attracted to traditional folk music by the melodies, but quickly came to love the quirky lyrics. I can enjoy a great melody with bad lyrics better than I can a great set of lyrics with a bad melody. If the melody is uninteresting, I tend to just tune the whole thing out.

A bad performance or a bad mix of anything, vocally or instrumentally, is just bad. I think the OP was asking about the psychology of what grabs your attention rather than whether or not the performer is competent.

I think I differ from a lot of folkies in that if there is an accompaniment, I want to hear it. A standard folk music mix often has the instruments so far back in the mix that you can't really hear it, and it isn't contributing much to the overall sound of the piece. I'd rather it was a capella. A lot of rock music, on the other hand, has the vocals too lost in the instrumental mix. I like something somewhere in between.

I am an accompanist, and my experience is that the instrumental backdrop has a big influence on the overall experience of the song for the audience. I can play four different styles of accompaniment behind the same vocal track and make it sound like four different songs, each with different emotional contents.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 10:47 AM

Where I live there are no words to listen to because are no songs to listen to.

I'm sorry Joe, but in your last post you said that you had bought tickets to 'The Transports' at The Sage. That was performed less than two weeks ago.

No idea if you went, but there are clearly "songs to listen to" in that. Don't really understand your point.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 10:56 AM

"Procul Harum's A Whiter Shade Of Pale "
Peggy was talking aboyt traditional and traditionally based songs - as much as I enjoyed 'Whiter' (lovely warm memories of Manchester), traditional it ain't
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Joe Nicholson
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 11:10 AM

The Sage is not where I live I live some ninety miles away


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 01:03 PM

I think Joe is making a general point as well as one for his area (Harrogate) simple song clubs and indeed guest clubs are struggling and places to sing songs accompanied or not are diminishing in favour of musicians sessions ~ some have made it to mixed song and tunes sessions

Times have and are changing and festivals are taking over ~ depends where you live of course

Ray


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: keberoxu
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 01:09 PM

Not only where you live, but where and when you were raised, and what was customary in that time and place, is brought to bear here. Did you grow up in a culture where your elders listened to the words? When you were young, listened to a song/tune, and didn't understand some bits or pieces of it, did you ask someone older, "What was that word?" Did you get a civil answer? Was your question brushed off? Or did your elder grasp that this was a teaching moment, and encourage you to listen and learn?

One of the defining memories of my earliest years is AM radio broadcasts in the car, in the days when there was no sound system in the car except for the AM radio ( we weren't truckers, no CB for us). That was in the days before air-conditioning was standard in cars as well, and if we needed air we rolled down a window.

The nearest metropolis, with the most powerful broadcasting, was across the state line; I didn't grow up in Michigan and rarely went there in person, but I grew up listening to Detroit radio stations. I still remember the disc jockeys talking at a rate of about one hundred miles an hour, an absolute aural blur, and I recall struggling in vain to comprehend even one sentence of the announcements.

The hit single records broadcast on the radio stations were loud enough, goodness knows, but the car radio wasn't that hot, and the sound reproduction made mush of the singers' diction and pronunciation; it was no place to learn the lyrics of the songs you heard.

I still cringe at the memory of begging whoever was in the car to tell me what the singer just sang, and getting yelled at.

It must be my contrary nature that prompted me to persist, in spite of this convention and cultural setting, to listen and learn what songs I heard, all the way to the literature that I learned of classical music at the university level. As well as the traditional musics to which I was exposed almost exclusively by recordings, some of which came with liner notes or booklets with the lyrics in print.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Ebbie
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 01:25 PM

Words are what I listen for. If the tune is great also, it is a wonderful song. Whether a tune is mournful or happy I listen for the words to amplify and explain the tune. (When the tune and the words are contradictory it is confusing to me. There is an old country song of Reno and Smiley's that is a case in point- they had a song called 'The Lord's Last Supper' with the obligatory somber message. But the tune is perky and bright. :)

One person in our music circle has trouble learning a song's words although she readily learns the tune. In my case I have trouble plucking a tune from the air unless it has words.

I love opera for its sounds, its sweep, its soaring melodies; I prefer it to be in a language I don't know. In its case, the sound is the thing.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Trevor
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 02:40 PM

Surely words and tune should fit together (he said, stating the bloody obvious!).I don't just mean scanning but the tune reflecting where the story is going, through pitch and dynamics.

And, I have to say, it's usually badly-crafted words that put me off. I'm the same when I'm reading prose - it irritates the wotsit out of me if it's badly put together.

On the other hand, coming from a craftsman, a story (a song) can be, for me sublime. I could listen to Steve Tilston (for example) all day.

And as far as traditional music is concerned, I love the Chris Coe quote in JHW's post above: "You should always stand behind the song, never in front".


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 02:52 PM

If you regard folk music as entirely narrative and words-based then that is in my view a very narrow definition. Jim said a fair few posts ago that English Language folk music was largely narrative, and this may be true, but it is not entirely narrative, and the folk music of, for instance, central and southern Europe is very different. There are more instrumentals, there is more dance. Even in England the Morris tradition is instrumental and dance based, would you not class that as folk? China and India have a large range of folk traditions, some of them sung, some instrumental, some dance. There is little discussion on this site of folk traditions other than Celtic and Anglo-Saxon, which is a pity.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 03:55 PM

I often find folk music to be annoying if I can't follow the lyrics, so I often can't use folk music for background listening. If it's background music, I want it to be either instrumental, or songs I'm familiar with. I often prefer pop music or "Great American Songbook" vocals over folk music.

When I get new music, I do my best to study songs right away, so I understand them. Then I can put them on my playlist and listen without paying full attention. I have a lot of CDs still wrapped in cellophane, because I haven't had time to study them.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Airymouse
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 04:24 PM

Here are a few phrases from folksongs as they are currently sung: "answered me with a modesty, I'll be 16 next Sunday;"she said with a smiling countenance, they call me Jack Munro;"ol crump's dead and in her grave;" he fed me on corn dodgers as hard as any rock;"there I spied a handsome lady, but her name I did not know. These phrases and many more like them would not be in our folk songs, if someone hadn't been listening to the words.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 06:12 PM

FloraG,
Your problem with children listening and understanding could be because of a multiplicity of reasons. Consider a song intended for adults with some difficult ideas. Why would children be interested? With an audience like this I would explain about the song first to give them a chance. There is also the factor that you are competing with lots of other genres/media for their attention. They are often not used to listening to the words unless you specifically give them incentive or tell them that's what you'd like.

A group I am in recently went into a school to sing to 10/11 year olds. They were using our songs for a heritage project. We started to sing one song I had written for our last album. Imagine my surprise and joy when about 90 kids started to join in not just the chorus but the whole song. We just sat down and played the music while they sang it. Blown away! The song has 8 stanzas by the way and it has a narrative.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 06:39 PM

I think I listen to the words in 99% of unaccompanied songs, providing they are clear.
In accompanied songs I'd guess that in 70% of them I find the instruments drown out the voice at some point and then my mind wanders.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 07:17 PM

Think I probably pay more attention to the words as I get older, though it is sometimes harder to follow them because of hearing problems, poor diction, chopping the words up around a funky rhythmic accompaniment, or just too loud accompaniment.
One singing group tutor always made us READ the words of any new song we were learning, and then would tell us to "sing them as you'd say them", which avoids the odd scansions with elongated vowels which someone mentioned above.
And another quoted Hamish Henderson's advice to "let the words sit comfortably on the tune".
And if you are songwriting yourself and a particular phrase sounds awkward or doesn't ring true to normal speech, you can always re-write or turn it round.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 08:41 PM

I do-not/can-not understand the words... to most recordings AND live performances. Never have, Never will.

However, I will READ the liner-notes before and fully-connect.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Technology has surpassed "vocals" in every way...it is the "mix", the "beat", the "impulse". The youngest Mellenials have not been sitting idle, while "Moore's Law" remains a constant.. You aint seen nothin' yet.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 08:46 PM

Yes.
Happy new year gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 11:28 AM

I should have said earlier that I do listen to the words of folk songs much more because folk songs so often have a story behind them.

Another problem of course is when the acoustics of a venue are against you. I was part of the choir for Sid Calderbanks presentation for the 200th anniversary of Edwin Waugh's birth(viewable on YouTube I believe). It was held in Rochdale town hall, a manificent building and well worth seeing, but the acoustics are dreadful. It was lucky that the lyrics were all printed in the programmes, but it did mean that we saw a lot of the tops of heads as the audience followed the song words!


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 12:38 PM

BBCW delightful, unles you are a Chaetophobe


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 12:58 PM

Many singers who are used to performing at amplified open mic situations rely so much on the amplification to project their voice that, when they perform acoustically, their singing is either not loud enough or drowned by their accompaniment. Which makes listening to the words quite difficult sometimes.

Singing with amplification is an art, as is singing without it - and I think they're two different techniques. Both effective in their own way but, if you perform in both environments, then you have to be able to handle singing in different ways.

The other thing that makes hearing the words difficult is the mannered way in which some people sing...


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 01:12 PM

With Will on this one!


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 01:23 PM

Generally yes, there are however exceptions...........


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 01:49 PM

We started to sing one song I had written for our last album. Imagine my surprise and joy when about 90 kids started to join in not just the chorus but the whole song.

Any chance of sharing the song, Steve? A link or something.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: MikeL2
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 02:46 PM

Hi

I was about to post my thoughts on this thread but when I read Tattie's
comment: " Think I probably pay more attention to the words as I get older, though it is sometimes harder to follow them because of hearing problems, poor diction, chopping the words up around a funky rhythmic accompaniment, or just too loud accompaniment"..... it completely summed up my own view.

But I don't think this is not only true in music and song. Nowadays "background music" music is becoming ever more intrusive and often we are unable to follow the dialogues. What is worse is that this music is often just strident electronic trash and does not represent the play or film.

Cheers

Mike L2


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 03:04 PM

Thanks Mike L2, a kindred spirit!

As for background music, there's one festival we go to, where the background music is MTV or equivalent. They are very happy to have us sing and play sessions all afternoon and evening, but look surprised when we ask them to turn the TV off: never a problem, but they do seem to have some sort of audiological immunity to the fact that it's on!


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 03:28 PM

GUEST?
I don't think it's online anywhere yet. Here it is anyway. Tune should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about folk music.

When I was a youngster and life being dull,
On a sidewinder trawler I sailed out of Hull;
We slid down the Humber on a southerly breeze
And pointed her nose for the cold Arctic seas.
             Deckie down, down, down, deckie, down.

To get to the Arctic it took us five days,
We were steamin' along in the sea's heavy sprays,
But you can't shoot yer nets in the teeth of a gale
When you're bobbin' about like a barrel of ale.

When you get up to Iceland there's no time to play,
For eighteen long hours you're on deck every day,
A man turns the winch while the rest haul the gear,
And the men by the gallows they know little fear.

When you're haulin' the nets you lean ovver the side,
The waves sweep the deck, it's a hell of a ride,
But you must watch yer fingers as the bobbins come in
Or all you'll have left is a lump o' raw skin.

The cod-end is swingin' and hoverin' about,
The mate pulls a cord and the catch it spews out,
Then you're cuttin' and guttin' with a clean and sharp knife.
You've onny two hours and you gut for your life.

The guttin' is done at a hell of a pace,
The guts from the fish fly all ovver the place;
Then it's off down the chute to the fishroom they go
While the mate is a-stowin' the catch down below.

The spray turns to ice and it builds up so quick,
In no time at all it is four inches thick;
Then it's all hands on deck as we need every man,
And don't mind the frostbite and chop while you can.

We're shootin' the nets till the fishroom is full,
Then it's clean all the gear and we're headin' for Hull,
But sometimes the spray and the ice take their toll,
And it's ovver she goes and the devil take all.

Doesn't look right in printed words and needs to be sung in a coarse 'Ull accent. It's on Spare Hands last album called 'Spare Hands'. The kids are doing a project on the Triple Trawler Disaster by the way.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: mg
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 04:14 PM

that is great. if i didn't think we were to capacity i would ask if you wanted to be on the cod cd...but on the slight chance there is room would you be interested? but what is the tune? if it is not traditional we could not use it unless it were your own.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 04:25 PM

It is obvious I looked at it and was singing straight away ~ hidden talents Steve Gardham

Derry down down down derry down

Ray


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 04:36 PM

Thanks for posting that, Steve

Whilst I wouldn't claim to be an expert, I'd consider myself to be someone who "knows anything about folk music". But I don't know the tune. Ho hum...


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 04:51 PM

If you take the last 4 centuries this is probably the most widely used tune, even surpassing Villikins. In the 16th century it was used for 'King John and the Abbot of Canterbury' now a Child ballad. In the 17th century it was widely used under the title 'A Cobbler there was'. By the 18th century and into the 19th it was being used for just about every other song (not necessarily folk songs). As Ray says it is usually referred to just as 'Derry Down'. The most common usage I can think of on the folk scene is arguably 'The Dreadnought'/'La Pique'/ 'Flash Packet'. It'll be in the DT

It's of a flash packet, La Pique was her name,
All in the West Indies she bore great fame,
For cruel bad usage in every degree,
Like slaves in the galleys we sailed the salt sea,
Derry down, down, down, derry, down........

Probably lots of others but can't think of them at the moment.

It was so popular that apart from being used for stirring derring-do songs which it goes best with, it was used for comic songs and all sorts of subjects. Weird!


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 04:57 PM

At least 2 songs in the imminent 'Southern Harvest' book use it.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 05:10 PM

mg. We've already recorded it on our last album but by all means get some of your lot to sing it. Tune traditional. Words, public domain. It's out there now.

There are lots of people in Hull writing great trawling songs, Linda Kelly, Brian Nelson, Keith Gay, Bill Sowerby.........following in Mike Waterson's footsteps.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 05:39 PM

SG's song is great.
Could it have its own thread?


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 05:59 PM

Thankyou, Freddy! And Ray!

GUEST: Freddy has just flagged up another thread about the Dreadnought song, just under this one.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Bill D
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 06:48 PM

why the input about bloody Pop songs?

"Because there aren't any physical boundaries between musical genres, Leadfingers."

Having been on Mudcat since... essentially... the beginning, I can assure you we have been thru this before.

   The point is, there are different musical genres. There are people whose main interest is opera... or barbershop quartets... or 'rap'. I doubt that they would be interested in comments regarding Child Ballads being inserted into their discussions. In music stores, they put signs and labels over bins & shelves to help people find the 'genres' they are interested in. So why cannot folk/trad music have ONE site where the distinction(s) are respected?

I know that words ARE important to 'most' folk music, and as "mg" said above, I have difficulty following the words of an unfamiliar song... both because of my hearing and because my brain processes words slowly. Folk music often has many versions of trad songs... and even of songs of known authorship... so that it is very useful for **me** to see the words as I listen. (I do know people who can almost know a song after hearing it once... but not me.) It is often a catchy or beautiful tune which catches my interest... but sometimes, after really becoming aware of the words, I think.."Gee... what a silly, empty bunch of words." (The old song "Give Me the Flowers While I Live" has a catchy little tune, but all 4 verses say essentially the same thing, and become just... umm... boring.

I TRY to follow the words, because most folk music has some sort of story or concept that NEEDS understanding... quite apart from many pop songs... thus my personal take on genre.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 07:30 PM

Sometimes, if you know the general storey contained in a folk song, it is easier to follow the words and thus fill in the details. If I could give a few examples, perhaps it would help:

When:- May, early in the morning
Where:- down by the river
Girl dies
Man feels eternal regret

Boy goes into the forest
He dies
Mother feels eternal regret

Ship sets of in the teeth of a gale
All on board drown
Those left at home feel eternal regret

Soldier goes off to war
……………………………………….


You get my drift?

DC ;-)


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,Larry Saidman
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 07:57 PM

I shamefacedly have to resonate with what mg said: "i don't listen well to the words. just the way my brain works, even when i tell myself i have to listen to the words my brain just goes away from them"

And this is despite the fact that my radio programs are on themes....mostly related to the lyrics.

On the other hand I do often read the lyrics......and when they are printed out it really helps me, and I gain a greater appreciation of the whole song (except when banal lyrics ride on top of a great melody/chord pattern---like some of those American Song Book standards).


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 10 Feb 17 - 03:34 AM

When I first posted this I was looking for an explanation of why I listened to some singers words and not others. I think I prefer the former but - as always inconsistent - I do listen to BBC Alba. I thought it was because some singers seem to sound the same whatever they sing, and life seems too short to listen to lots of teenage angst songs, especially when not sung by teenagers.
I have been surprised by the range of answers, and pleased by the depth of thought.
It may relate to why some students do better at school than others, this lack of ( difficulty with ) listening. Is it a skill that can be taught or improved upon?
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Feb 17 - 01:28 PM

Yes, of course it can be taught, but all too often nowadays there are factors set against it like piped background music, encouragement of non-participation.

I'm a little reluctant to move into politics here, but IMHO, the powers that be in most countries are very happy with a passive population who take everything that's thrown at them. They don't like thinkers and people who pay attention unless it's to their distraction and propaganda.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: robomatic
Date: 10 Feb 17 - 03:25 PM

Words and music of course go together, or what is a song anyway?


That being said, there are terribly successful pop songs where the words barely make sense. Some of my favorite groups fall into this category. First in my mind is one of my favorite groups Talking Heads. Then there are great groups with great words such as 10CC. Then there are characters like Bob Dylan who are multi genre multi song type. Of particular note are the singer-songwriters such as Warren Zevon. His "Frank and Jesse James" song is right up there with the stuff of excellence like the great Stan Rogers. On the other hand, he was capable of fun stuff like these lines from "Jungle Work":

We parachute in
We parachute out
'Death from above'
We're screaming now


It's funny and ridiculous and goes right by you unless you are paying attention. I love stuff like that.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Feb 17 - 03:28 PM

"I'm a little reluctant to move into politics here, but IMHO, the powers that be in most countries are very happy with a passive population who take everything that's thrown at them. They don't like thinkers and people who pay attention unless it's to their distraction and propaganda."
Iagree


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Feb 17 - 04:08 PM

In some genres, folk included, there are items called songs that are very little more than instrumentals. BUT, it takes all sorts and we can all appreciate these on a different level. If a singer is using his/her voice as an instrument then what's wrong with that? The problem is when they are singing a song we all know has great words or gives out an interesting message and they are disrespecting those words by distracting us from listening to them.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,Jo-Jo folkagogo
Date: 10 Feb 17 - 04:35 PM

Yes I listen to words - I believe the words ARE the song. When I sing I try to enuciate all words clearly - there simply is no point singing if people cannot hear u or understand what u are saying. My folky fave performer is M W Read because I can hear plainly EVERY single word he sings and thats how it should be.
Many people seem 2 4get that the accompaniment should be just that - the song comes first - Jo


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: robomatic
Date: 10 Feb 17 - 08:29 PM

Dan Bern wrote a song based on his misinterpretation of Tom Waits' song: "16 Shells From a Thirty Ought Six":

Well in the distance you could almost see the red dust of Oklahoma
rise on the horizon like a thin puff of smoke
And as you got a little closer you could tell something was moving
And now and then catch the sun's glint off a spoke
Later you could make out a thin figure in a hat
Pushing a wheel chair, he fumed as he spat
I ain't stopping till we reach Manitoba you rat

I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
Canada

The border of Missouri didn't slow him up
He pushed on like a fury with all his might
The 18 wheelers that rolled on by
Would just should shake their heads and marvel at the sight
Of one man trudging with undying zeal
Pushing another man encased in steel
Yelling in his ear, ain't even stopping for a meal

I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
Canada

You probably thought you'd pull a fast one on me
Guess you didn't realize just with whom you were toying
The joke kind of turned though, didn't it bub,
He hissed as they rolled through suburban Des Moines
They came to a river and soon did float a-
Cross on a barge into Minnesota
Wheat fields turned into South Dakota

I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
Canada

Wyoming farmers swear to this day
You can sometimes see wheel tracks in the snow
Truck stop waitresses tell of how
They once served him a cream cheese omelet to go
He rides the Grand Canyon outer rim
Iroquois Indians pray to him
When you cross his path just say to him

I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
I'm gonna wheel you to Canada
Canada


The misinterpreted line from Tom Waits: "Gonna whittle you inta kindlin'"


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 11 Feb 17 - 12:20 PM

For me thw words are much the most important thing, which is why I rarely listen to pop or rock music as the lyrics are usually dreadful. But even in the music I like singers diction can often be very bad, I like to hear the words and understand them too. by the way I always credit the songwriter in every song I sing


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 11 Feb 17 - 03:00 PM

Over the past decade or more, I have increasingly despised the trend of allowing the instrument to bury the words. We hear it in folk and pop. When the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players perform, the same thing happens. The director is also the conductor and does not seem to understand that people come to hear the words and not to admire the generic music.
It seems the sound guys have the same issue, both live and in recording. I do not know why performers allow themselves to be buried. Often in sings and song circles, where the music is unamplified, the singer would be better served by using a parlor guitar than by playing the biggest one he or she can find. If the music is meant to accompany the singer then we should hear the singer--clearly.


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Subject: RE: Do you listen to the words?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 11 Feb 17 - 03:21 PM

My two penn'orth is mostly to agree with most of the previous contributions.

A song consists of words and a tune. Anything that doesn't have both of those components isn't a song. Anything that does have both but with either component being unclear is a song of sorts but (to my taste) not a very good one.

One reason why I try to avoid the canned music(?) that is inflicted on us in many public and semi-public places is that it tends to have just a few words, repeated umpteen times. Yes, some folk songs have repetition, but rarely to that extent. Those that do have a very large amount of repetition I find almost as unappealing as the pop ones.

Some singers who accompany themselves devote too much brainpower to the accompaniment and too little to the words, with the result that they mumble some of the words, especially at the beginnings of lines. Some who have others to accompany them seem to work on the basis that more is better, so one singer's voice has to compete with half a dozen intruments.

And don't get me started on percussion.

Richard


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