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Accents In Songs

Naemanson 20 Aug 00 - 04:56 PM
Shanti 20 Aug 00 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,jayohjo in edinburgh 20 Aug 00 - 06:19 PM
catspaw49 20 Aug 00 - 07:02 PM
Naemanson 20 Aug 00 - 07:08 PM
Malcolm Douglas 20 Aug 00 - 07:48 PM
Brendy 20 Aug 00 - 08:12 PM
Shanti 20 Aug 00 - 08:15 PM
Mbo 20 Aug 00 - 08:32 PM
GUEST 20 Aug 00 - 08:36 PM
little john cameron 20 Aug 00 - 08:37 PM
Jon Freeman 20 Aug 00 - 09:29 PM
bflat 20 Aug 00 - 10:17 PM
sheba 20 Aug 00 - 11:33 PM
alison 21 Aug 00 - 01:45 AM
BigDaddy 21 Aug 00 - 03:08 AM
GUEST,SCabby Doug 21 Aug 00 - 05:31 AM
robroy 21 Aug 00 - 05:43 AM
Brendy 21 Aug 00 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,Scabby Doug 21 Aug 00 - 06:21 AM
Brendy 21 Aug 00 - 07:46 AM
Jeri 21 Aug 00 - 08:23 AM
Brendy 21 Aug 00 - 08:30 AM
Mbo 21 Aug 00 - 12:01 PM
Kim C 21 Aug 00 - 12:32 PM
Bill D 21 Aug 00 - 12:37 PM
Jeri 21 Aug 00 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,Mbo_at_ECU 21 Aug 00 - 01:34 PM
LR Mole 22 Aug 00 - 12:07 PM
GUEST,rabbitrunning 22 Aug 00 - 12:45 PM
Bert 22 Aug 00 - 12:54 PM
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Subject: Accents In Songs
From: Naemanson
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 04:56 PM

Yesterday I went to the Maine Highland Games and while there was reminded of a question that has bothered me for some time.

When is it acceptable to try to immitate an accent in a song?

Consider that you wouldn't want to try to immitate the slave dialect in the old Stephen Foster songs and it isn't necessary but some Scots songs depend on the pronunciation for rhymes. Yesterday I heard a perfectly normal United Statesian accent trying to ryhme "aine" (own) with "again" which sounded odd to my ear. There are words in Gaelic mixed into some songs that our untrained tongues cannot wrap around. What are we to do?


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Shanti
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 05:46 PM

I've always felt that the singer should sing the song as he feels it. If that means with an accent, so be it. Most Irish and Scots songs naturally lend themselves to a certain lilt, if nothing else, particularly when they are written in a dialect or they include Gaelic words and phrases. Those songs would sound a bit strange without a least the tiniest hint of an accent. And think of all the white Brits and Americans who've tried to sound like Blind Lemon Jefferson, because they're singing rock or blues. I was amazed for instance, when I found out that Eric Clapton isn't an African American. So, I say, go with the way it feels right, but try not to exaggerate or insult anyone in the process.

When my mother was doing a play by John Synge, called DEIRDRE OF THE SORROWS, everyone in the cast tried to put on an Irish brogue. The director, who was from Dublin's Abbey Theatre, kept telling them that all they had to do was read the lines as Synge had written them and they'd have the right lilt, without sounding like a Cork music hall performer (her words, not mine).


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: GUEST,jayohjo in edinburgh
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 06:19 PM

Personally, I tend to only sing songs if I can get away with it in my own accent (English) or if I can twist the words about a bit to make it fit an English accent. Otherwise it feels contrived. But maybe that's just me.... jayohjo XX


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 07:02 PM

I'm not a big fan of contrived accents. Personally that includes trying to emulate regional dialects etc. Some can do it and go quite well, but most sound completely flakey. I'd love to sing Frank Proffitt songs like Frank Proffitt but it ain't happenin' so truth is the only thing I can offer.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Naemanson
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 07:08 PM

I suppose I should explain what I've done in my music so far. When I am singing something Irish I seem to put in a few colloquialisms that may or may not work. I also seem to slip into a hazy quasi accent. No one has complained yet. And I don't do it all the time. When singing Killkelly "my own" will become "me own" but that is the limit. When doing Mary Mac I get more into the accent.

I have never been able to do a Scots accent and that may be why I do so few of those songs. (Sorry, Little John)

But I've always wondered about the applicability. Should I go with my own completely accentless voice? Should I use what I can that sounds all right? Or should I go full bore?


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 07:48 PM

Use your own, natural, accent.  Always.  If you need to pronounce a word differently in order to sustain a rhyme-scheme, fair enough; but that's as far as it should ever go.  I've come across so many people trying to sing in fake Scottish, Irish, English, American accents; it's usually just embarrassing, but I have seen it lead to fights.  I'd make a distinction, though, where it's a language -as opposed to accent- that is foreign to you; in that case, respect demands that you do your best to pronounce it properly.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Brendy
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 08:12 PM

I remember when it was the fad to do every song to do songs ala Liam Clancy, Ronnie Drew, and Christy Moore. Especially Christy Moore (for the serious folk singer).

I never tried to do that; it would have sounded weird, I think, had I tried. I was already used to hearing Eddie Butcher, Len Graham, etc, and saw no reason why I should fake some other accent, in order to make it sound more authentic.
For I think that a lot of the time, that's why the 'accents' turn up in the first place.
There is really no need to do this, as I have heard many fine renditions of Irish and English folk songs sung by Americans, for instance, and with their own voice, or accent.

Saying that, you might ask, how would I sing 'Jock O' Hazeldean'?
As best I could, I would say. But it is possible to keep to the words, the flow of the song, and most important of all, relate the story, without trying to sound like Gaughan.

I heard a Latvian chap do an interesting version of 'The Haughs of Cromdale' one night.

I suppose you have to admire the guy's bravery.

B.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Shanti
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 08:15 PM

I was not referring to a quasi accent where Irish and Scots songs are concerned, but merely the natural lilt that comes even with just reading the lyrics. Of course an accent shouldn't be faked to the point of being a parody or so broad as to be insulting. Just enough to get the words across in the proper spirit. Whenever I sing an Irish or Scottish song, I'd have great difficulty singing it with no lilt at all. And you may think, as an American, that you have no accent, but there isn't one of us who doesn't have some tiny little twang or dialectic speech pattern. So far, I haven't insulted anyone or caused even a raised eyebrow...


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Mbo
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 08:32 PM

I always sing with an accent, it's just how I sing. You've heard my Irish & Scottish accent...I've had people think I was from there. I even find myself, in general conversation, slipping into the accent and pronouncing things with that accent. Most people DO sing with an accent, even Americans from the midwest. Check out the band Counting Crows. They sing with out any accent. It sounds really bizarre. Mosrt of you wouldn't like it.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 08:36 PM

In a lot of sessions, people who aren't remotely Irish or Scottish even start SPEAKING in those accents (what is it? an attempt at authenticity?). I think this is unnecessary and try-hard. The accent is usually wrong anyway.

In some songs, an accent is necessary (consider "Manura Manya"), but in many, it's not, and downright offensive. How many non-Irish people would know the difference between a Cork and a Wicklow accent? (not I!).

And I firmly believe that when acting, natural voices should be used. The standard of production is usually let down by faking accents badly. So many amateur theatre groups in Australia put on bad American accents when doing musicals, and it's just awful!

Callie


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: little john cameron
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 08:37 PM

Ah wis listenin tae a German band daein Scots sangs an' if ah didnae ken that they were German they wid hae fooled me.
Then again they are yased tae the ch's an' the rollin rr's. They are caed Tears for Beers As ah said afore,ah think like this an find it easier tae write like this.When i speak i have to try an' leave oot the non english words.Sometimes,efter a few Guinness ah fa back intae it naebody kens whit ah'm on aboot.For instance yesterday ah said shut the windae insteed o close the window.
Anyway, mah opinion is if ye are no scots or at least awfy familiar wi it,dinnae try it.Ye'll jist sound like Scotty on Star Trek. LJC


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 09:29 PM

I have to go along with Malcolm on this even though my accent does tent to slip and vary a little.

As regards SF songs, I have been known to attempt both Hard Times and Old Black Joe on Hearme and have yet to hear anyone complian that they are sung in some Shropshire/Kent/North Wales Coast accent... (and I can't even sing!)

Jon


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: bflat
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 10:17 PM

Theodore Bikel can do many accents well and does in his folk singing but then he is also a great actor. Some folks have great talent and some folks are working on their's.

bflat


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: sheba
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 11:33 PM

To Americans who sing Scottish songs: What would you do with the last repeated phrase of "Annie Laurie": "And for bonnie, bonnie Annie Laurie, I'd lay me doon and dee." I find this a tricky call. I do not feign a Scottish accent while singing but can't quite bring myself to say "lay me down and die." I'd like to come to some peace on this before I dee.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: alison
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 01:45 AM

I hate people trying to do Christy Moore songs who try to put on the accent, but the same goes for most Irish / Scottish things... putting on the accent sounds ridiculous. It is very hard to get it good enough not to sound fake.

I'm Irish but I couldn't fake a Southern Irish accent the whole way through a song even if I wanted to, (which I don't)... and if an Irish person can't do it..let's face it what hope has an Aussie got?? I say Aussie 'cos they're the ones I hear trying to do it.. I'm sure many Americans do too....

Mbo, your accents aren't bad.... but they're not "you". they're you being someone else....

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: BigDaddy
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 03:08 AM

Sheba, there's a difference between faking an accent and singing a song in dialect. "Annie Laurie" (at least the line you quote) is an example of Scottish dialect). It should be sung as written. There's no good reason to convert it to modern English. If you are singing a somg in a foreign (to you) language, it's important to pronounce the words properly. If it's written in a dialect, sing it as it was written. It's what the author intended. If you're singing "Whiskey in the Jar," or any such songs, sing them in your own accent or risk sounding like a "wannabe." This way you can be true to yourself and the music you're performing, which is an invaluable thing in the world of folk music. Cheers!


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: GUEST,SCabby Doug
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 05:31 AM

Here's another take on this:

A bad attempted accent is a bad attempted accent, and that always raises a smile or at least a grimace.

BUT:

Many Scottish songs rely upon Scots language vocabulary or accent for their rhyme, or even to express accurately the sense of the song.

Occasionally, I hear an attempt to anglicise one of these songs where key phrases have been changed, or amended to substitute English pronunciation. That tends to annoy me more than someone attemting to use the song the way it was written. Please note that this doesn't apply to traanslation of a song into, say, German or French...

You can accuse me of having a double standard if you like, but I'd rather people attempted the words to get the rhyme/sense made.

For example, listen to Luke Kelly singing Scots songs.. he did great versions of "Tramps and Hawkers", and "The Freedom Come-All-Ye". He sings in his own voice, but uses the Scots words where they are need to make the rhyme.

At a recent session, a guy was singing "Ride On" - and he felt compelled to adopt a weird Irish accent, which was quite unnecessary.

However, at the end of the day, sing the song, sing it your own way, and enjoy singing it. And above all, don't worry about it. It's there to be enjoyed, not agonised over.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: robroy
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 05:43 AM

I have an awful feeling that Christie Moore puts on the accent too. He doesn't speak much like that normally. He must be having a quiet laugh about his imitaters.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Brendy
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 06:10 AM

Nah, not really. Christy has this soft Kildare lilt; he's always had it. But back in the '70's he had more 'attitude' (for want of a better word) in his singing, and that I think, was what people tried to copy. His 'soft Kildare' was often thus transposed into 'plastic Dublin' (again, for want of a better description), paving the way for all the 'Christy-ites'

Hands up all those who sing 'Lanigan's Ball'? *BG*

B.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: GUEST,Scabby Doug
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 06:21 AM

Actually, Brendy has just mafe me think about the accents I use when singing.

My own accent is Glasgow/West of Scotland. But if I'm singing , say, "Donald Blue", or "Barnyards o'Delgaty", I'll drop into a heavy North-East accent. It never occurred to me to wonder whether that would piss-off a Buchan native or Aberdonian..

Hmmmm...

And what about when I sing bluegrass?.... y'all....

Thinking carefully

Cheers


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Brendy
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 07:46 AM

"Oh, I certainly will not make a career for myself in the locomotive industry.
Neither shall I be a track-layer.
I shall simply relax here, in my holiday home,
until such times when I can secure myself low cost, long distance travel.
And make love to my girlfriend."

Don't think it would work, Doug.
What do ye think yerself?

B.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Jeri
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 08:23 AM

Ain't gonna work on the railroad
Ain't gonna work on the farm,
Gonna lay 'round the track till the mail train comes back
Then I'll roll in my sweet baby's arms.

?

Either Donald Blue isn't in the DT, or I can't find it.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Brendy
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 08:30 AM

Drat. I always thought it was "...work on the line."

Such a wasted youth, I had!!

B.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Mbo
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 12:01 PM

I think I proved my point last night on hearme, when I sang "The Stuttering Lovers" completely devoid of any accent. It sounded hilarious. As for "who I am" in terms of how I choose to sing --"I'm free to be whatever I, whatever I choose and I'll sing the blues if I want."


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Kim C
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 12:32 PM

I don't intentionally try it but sometimes the words of the song may lend themselves to it spontaneously. (does that make sense?)

As for Annie Laurie, I don't lay doon and dee because it sounds funny (to me)if that's the only line in dialect, and the rest is normal. So I lay down and die. (So sue me. It's the folk process at work.) Although, in Jock o'Hazeldean, I sing it all regular English, except for "she's o'er the border and AWA."

I say, sing how you feel comfortable. Let the words come out how they may. That seems to work for me. :)


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Bill D
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 12:37 PM

I can handle certain aspects of Scots dialect, and certain songs need the Scots words, but I just don't even try the REALLY heavy dialect songs..my wife, though has a very good ear for dialects (she's half Italian), and can carry it of quite well...She does the "51st Highlanders Farewell to Sicily" using text written out for her by Ed Miller, and it is GOOD!


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Jeri
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 01:19 PM

Mbo, you did not perform the song with no accent - you did it with an overdone caricature of an American accent. Would have loved to hear you do it without any attempt at any accent - it would have sounded fine, I think.

Scots is recognized as a separate language by some. My take on that (excuse) is that one tries to speak a language with a proper accent. If you speak French, do you do so with your own accent, or do you at least try to speak with a French accent?


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: GUEST,Mbo_at_ECU
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 01:34 PM

When I speak French, I say it with the accent. Always. That's why I was one of only 3 people in my French class who got A's. We were the only ones who spoke with the accent.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: LR Mole
Date: 22 Aug 00 - 12:07 PM

Here's a copoutfor you: honestly, the song chooses. At least it does for me. Remember Belafonte singing "When the Saints go Marchin' In" as a madrigal ("Tri-li-li-li-li-li-la")?Not to get all Shirley MacLaine-y, but some choices are not the singer's to make.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: GUEST,rabbitrunning
Date: 22 Aug 00 - 12:45 PM

When I sing a song I learned from a record or a person, I tend to try to make it sound like what I heard. Sometimes that's musical, and sometimes that's accent. I know that when I went to England with my sister, it played merry hob with the way I pronounced vowel sounds for weeks, because we started in the south of England and then went north in stages to Scotland. I wasn't trying to "put on" an accent consciously, but I did find myself saying "aboot".

I think Scabby Doug hit a good compromise when he pointed out that vocabulary should stay the same, but that we shouldn't make exaggerated changes to words that we normally use unless we need to to make the song scan right.


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Subject: RE: Accents In Songs
From: Bert
Date: 22 Aug 00 - 12:54 PM

I deliberately try NOT to imitate the first person I heard. Sometimes, with Dylan songs for example, it's difficult, but I keep trying.

But I like songs to sound as though it's ME singing them.

Of course I have to agree with Callie, that some songs like Manura Manyah just can't be sung without an accent. The rhyme 'complain' - 'dain' just doesn't work in English. I had similar problems when I used to be a square dance caller. You can't say 'Granmaw' in English.

Bert.


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