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Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs

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Naemanson 24 Aug 00 - 10:34 AM
Gervase 24 Aug 00 - 10:37 AM
radriano 24 Aug 00 - 11:31 AM
GUEST,Russ 24 Aug 00 - 11:48 AM
Grab 24 Aug 00 - 12:05 PM
MMario 24 Aug 00 - 12:08 PM
GUEST,Jackie B 24 Aug 00 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,Fibula Mattock 24 Aug 00 - 12:20 PM
GUEST,Curmudgeon 24 Aug 00 - 12:22 PM
John Moulden 24 Aug 00 - 12:24 PM
Alice 24 Aug 00 - 12:25 PM
Sandy Paton 24 Aug 00 - 12:26 PM
BigDaddy 24 Aug 00 - 12:36 PM
GUEST,Unk Met/Det 24 Aug 00 - 12:40 PM
Art Thieme 24 Aug 00 - 12:48 PM
Big Mick 24 Aug 00 - 01:02 PM
Jeri 24 Aug 00 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,Judy Cook 24 Aug 00 - 02:26 PM
Peg 24 Aug 00 - 03:54 PM
Sandy Paton 24 Aug 00 - 04:03 PM
Naemanson 24 Aug 00 - 04:07 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 24 Aug 00 - 04:32 PM
Noreen 24 Aug 00 - 04:46 PM
Diva 24 Aug 00 - 04:52 PM
Mbo 24 Aug 00 - 05:26 PM
Noreen 24 Aug 00 - 05:29 PM
sophocleese 24 Aug 00 - 06:31 PM
DougR 24 Aug 00 - 06:38 PM
DougR 24 Aug 00 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,emily b 24 Aug 00 - 06:49 PM
Diva 24 Aug 00 - 08:10 PM
GUEST,Jackie B 24 Aug 00 - 08:42 PM
Alice 24 Aug 00 - 10:10 PM
DougR 24 Aug 00 - 10:45 PM
jacko@nz 24 Aug 00 - 11:06 PM
rabbitrunning 24 Aug 00 - 11:17 PM
campfire 25 Aug 00 - 12:09 AM
Tinker 25 Aug 00 - 12:10 AM
Bearheart 25 Aug 00 - 12:35 AM
Mbo 25 Aug 00 - 12:37 AM
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Subject: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Naemanson
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 10:34 AM

I know there are many people here who play some instrument or another to accompany themselves while they sing. And I do too. But I find it detracts from what I can do with my voice if I am concentrating on my guitar.

I once talked with Tom Lewis about it and he said he had tried but found the same problem so he laid the instruments aside for largely unaccompanied singing. He does occasionally use a ukelele and an accordian for some of his songs. But he told me was told by someone who knows him and cares for him that the instruments interfered with his performance more than they added to it.

So here are my questions:

Who out there sings solo unaccompanied?

Why?

What do you sing?

What is your opinion of this kind of performance?


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Gervase
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 10:37 AM

Solo and unaccompanied for me - but mainly because I only play the whistle and the box.
The whistle, well, that's obvious. But the diatonic nature of the box really buggers up my breathing and phrasing when I'm trying to sing.
I can't rub my stomach and pat my head at the same time, either.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: radriano
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 11:31 AM

I do a lot of solo unaccompanied singing. Aside from not being distracted by an instrument, I like the freedom you get when you can alter rhythym to emphasize words. Some songs are better unaccompanied. Sea shanties, I feel, should never be accompanied as well as some ballads and chorus songs. For the most part I approach songs on an individual basis.

Another factor for me has been worsening of a congenital birth defect that has me using two canes. So I also tend to sing unaccompanied more simply because I can't lug around a guitar.

Radriano


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 11:48 AM

Uh Oh! You just pushed a button. Run, Naemanson, Run!!!

I sing some non-ballad songs a capella for lots of different reasons. Some sound best that way to my ears. For some I've never been able to work out an instrumental accompaniment that satisfied me.

However, the songs I sing a capella are mostly what Jean Ritchie once called the "long, dirgey" ballads.

A capella ballads are a passion and obsession I cannot even begin to explain adequately because they hit me right between the eyes and affect me on so many levels, but I'll give it a shot.

To my ears, this is how they sound best. I love what Steeleye Span, Pentangle, et. al., did with traditional ballads, but when you go back, e.g., to Belle Stewart, it is like comparing a fine blend with an awesome single malt.

Singing ballads a capella allows me to get lost in them in a way that I cannot duplicate when playing an instrument.

I think that a capella singing also emphasizes the sheer "alienness" of the ballads. They come from an ancient world so completely different from our own that singing them with a modern accompaniment "falsifies" them to my ears. I love it that singing a capella ballads is so thoroughly un-modern, so completely out of date, so utterly unfashionable.

I love the fact that the a capella ballads are so demanding of both the singer and the listener. The singer has nowhere to hide. The listener has nothing to do but pay attention or leave.

Further, singing them a capella gives them a power they don't have when accompanied. (Even if sometimes it is only the power to sedate an audience.)

If done right, singing them a capella puts the focus on the song, not the singer or the instrument.

In an age where two verses and a chorus or a ten second sound bite are considered an adequate treatment of any story or subject, I love the sheer length and details and "unweildiness" of the traditional ballads.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Grab
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 12:05 PM

It's the coordination thing. I have to really learn the guitar part, so that my fingers will pretty much do it by remote control while I concentrate on the singing. I find I need to concentrate on the singing, otherwise I don't point at the mike, don't sing in tune, forget words, etc. But some songs just sound better on their own, and accompanying them is gilding the lily. There's one song I do though which needs fast, on-the-beat strumming, and that sounds much better if I get my friend to do the guitar and I sing, rather than trying to go like a bat out of hell on the strings and belt out the song as well - doing that just brings down both of them.

Grab.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: MMario
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 12:08 PM

I don't play an instument, so I don't have much choice in the matter. I sing almost everything (and anything) without accompianment. One or two songs where friends have played bodrhan, but that's about it.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: GUEST,Jackie B
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 12:13 PM

There are a lot of Traditional Singing Circles in Ireland and most sing unaccompanied. As you say, NO distractions.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: GUEST,Fibula Mattock
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 12:20 PM

Hiya, is that you Uncle Metal-Detector?? If so, then I can verify that your unaccompanied rendition of "Halfway up the stairs" is the one of the most beautiful solo performances I have ever heard! (That and "Miss Mouse's Ball").


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: GUEST,Curmudgeon
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 12:22 PM

Being of an age where I recall my earliest exposure to the great songs and ballads of tradition as recordings by A.L.Lloyd and Ewan MaColl, I was exposed to unaccompanied songs quite a while ago. And I find more and more that I am tending to prefer to sing more songs with neither my guitar or concertina. A few of the reasons include the freedom one gets by not being dependant on the limitations of an instrument. The voice can do things that no machine can and may be better used without the limitations of keys, modes, tempos, etc. Like a previous respondant, I am also really unable to concentrate on complex singing and playing at the same time. I have found, however, that many audiences get confused by unaccompanied singing. But with enough exposure they too can be trained. A line from the introduction to the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs quotes a Dorset man's comments of a professional singer of folk song, "Of course, its nice for him to have the piano when he's singing, but it does make it very awkward for the listener."


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: John Moulden
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 12:24 PM

Ulstersongs (which I run) exists to promote (in the main) Irish unaccompanied singing. www.ulstersongs.com - but the catalogue is in need of some revision.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Alice
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 12:25 PM

That is the way I prefer to sing folk songs, especially the Irish songs that are meant to be expressive and unmetered. When I say sean nós here, even at the so called "Irish" session, most people don't know what I'm talking about. Oh, well, it's unfortunate, but in America, unless it's like a barbershop quartet or 4 part harmony street a capella, people expect instrumental accompaniment. I think the subtlety and sensitivity of solo unaccompanied singing is lost on audiences here. They are maybe overstimulated, so they can't hear the beauty of less being more.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 12:26 PM

I have witnessed, many times over the past fifty years or so, a noisy room suddenly become hushed and attentive when a singer began an unaccompanied ballad. I sing many of them that way, and when I do accompany one of the older, traditional songs, I try to keep the accompaniment simple and unobtrusive. Let the story be the important thing. Yes, indeed, Russ, it's the song, not the singer, that really matters.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: BigDaddy
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 12:36 PM

GUEST,Russ...You summed it up rather nicely. I do use a bodhran (judiciously) for accompaniment on "Itches in my Britches," "Up Among the Heather," " The Scotsman," etc. And sing with our guitar player/vocalist (and sometimes piper) on things like "Drunken Sailor," Wild Mountain Thyme," "Broom of the Cowdenowes" or "The Mermaid." But prefer unaccompanied on the old ballads and of course sea shanteys. I learned the early stuff ("Barbara Allen," "Gypsy Davy," "Devil and the Farmer's Wife," etc.) from the singing of my mother and her aunts. They had learned these from their mother, and so on. Although my mother was a marvelous piano player, she would never have dreamed of accompanying herself or anyone else on these songs. It just wasn't the way they were learned or passed along. That's not to say they should never be done any other way. It's a personal thing. Along these lines, I'm currently putting together a one-man performance piece based on the various occupations of all my known ancestors (farmer, soldier, weaver, cooper, cobbler, blacksmith, etc.). This will be done a capella, though I may play a tune between songs (on guitar, fiddle or tin whistle). I think a big reason I'm doing this to prove to myself that it can be done without accompaniment and keep an audience's attention. Jay


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: GUEST,Unk Met/Det
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 12:40 PM

Yep ! I cannot tell a lie, It's 'Bokles kokles' stable boy Thanks for the undeserved praise. It wasn't the first time I sang you to sleep with a song or two. (and everyone else that has heard me) slan Uncle metal detector.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 12:48 PM

I do wish you folks could all hear JUDY COOK from the D.C. Folk organization. Her two CDs--all solo al capone and unique variations of songs---are as listenable as any instrumental backed singing I've ever heard. Maybe moreso.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Big Mick
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 01:02 PM

Art, I don't know if this is the same person that I heard last year or not, but this club has a woman who sings sean nos that is wonderful. Liam's Brother was doing an Irish Songs workshop last year at FSGW, and about a half hour before the workshop he comes up to me and asks me if I am ready. I asked him "ready for what?". He sez, "Ready to give me a hand at my workshop". I will get him for that one day....LOL. So I have to throw a couple of songs together quickly. One of them that I chose was MOLLY NA gCUACH NÍ CHUILLEANÁIN which I sang a cappella in Gaelige. This woman stands up and sings a song in Scots Gaelic that was wonderful. She has a lovely voice and sings in a style that is wonderful. I don't know if it is the same person, but she is a member of the DC organization, FSGW.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Jeri
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 02:07 PM

Mick, I'm racking my brains trying to think if it was Judy or someone else. Judy does mostly English songs, but it could've been her. The FSGW has quite a number of very talented people!

Curmudgeon doesn't need any accompaniment - so THERE! (He's a good friend and is as good a singer as anyone you've ever heard on a recording and knows several THOUSAND songs.) The problem is in our session, the people who can't play an instrument along with the singers frequently look at their watches, hold conversations and are a real pain in the ass. I'm waiting for someone to move the glasses of the table and start a crap game...

I sing unaccompanied. I also play fiddle. I'm not mentally coordinated enough to do both at the same time - either the fiddle or I will be out of tune. If given a choice between singing and playing, I'll choose to sing every time.

Why? I love the sound of voices, but even more, I love the FEEL of singing. I love the vibrations in my chest, throat and sinuses. I love releasing sound into the air and having it mix with everyone else's sounds. I love when my head buzzes from the harmonies. It sounds a bit over the top, but it feels very spiritual. I was once at at a folk festival (Fox Hollow, for those who know the name), in a closely packed throng at someone's campsite. We were singing sea shanties very loudly, and I remember thinking I was as close to feeling "rapture" as I was ever going to be.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: GUEST,Judy Cook
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 02:26 PM

First, a big thank you and mutual admiration to Art! I do love singing unaccompanied and hearing unaccompanied singing. And I am finding more and more folks who do, much to my delight.

Mick & Jeri, I feel sure the woman you are thinking of is my friend Linda Rice-Johnston. She's a member of FSGW and sings Scottish songs and ballads unaccompanied in Scots-Gaelic as well as English in a beautiful, clear, high, fluidly-ornamented style. By contrast my "ornaments" are more subtle and my ability to sing in Scots dialect/accent is non-existant.

I haven't asked if she'll be at the Getaway this year, but Dennis & I will be there. We'll just be getting back from the Midwest.

Cheers, Judy Cook


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Peg
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 03:54 PM

interesting thread, since there are so many here who sing songs from the Celtic isles...

I am a singer primarily. I play the boudhran, and some guitar, and a bit of pennywhistle, and recently bought a harp from the MudCat auction so I hope to learn that soon (although I have not received it in the mail yet but that's another story).

As to why sing unaccompanied, after manyyears singing various kinds of music I found traditonal Celtic music and there was, essentially, no turning back, It fit my voice, my sensibility, my emotional landscape, my performing intensity, so many reasons. And while I do dearly love to be accompanied by a good string part or a soft rhythmic drum, I think nothing quite matches the power of the unaccompanied competent voice. By "competent" I do not necessarily mean trained, or even "nice" -sounding; a rough or gravelly voice can be competent, and intent and focus are as much a part of this as phrasing and all the rest of it...

as for singing in Irish or Gaelic, I do both, and I find I am better able to enter the world of the song, when I do not necessarily have a word-by-word translation happening in my head as I sing, by singing a cappella.

Perhaps some of it has to do with the fact that playing and singing simultaneously are hard for me. I am not even sure if I practiced it a lot if it would be easier; not everyone can do it smoothly, and I like focusing on one thing. That said, singing while being accompanied by sensitive instrumentalists, so that we all make the experience of the song as one, not by taking turns "showcasing" our stuff, is a very satisfying and heartlifting experience, if you can find a combo that works...


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 04:03 PM

Judy Cook's CDs are available from Folk-Legacy, or from Judy herself. Send her a personal message for all the information you'll need for ordering them direct from her and her helpful shipping clerk, Dennis.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Naemanson
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 04:07 PM

Thanks to all of you for your input. It seemed as though most of the threads on music were largely about accompaniment or accompanied songs. I couldn't detect anything about people who sang unaccompanied.

My conversation with Tom Lewis occurred right after we had seen a workshop on unaccompanied voice. The workshop had included Louis Killen and four or five others including the members of one of the great British chanty groups (I think it was Hearts Of Oak).

I'm hearing a lot of you saying you sing Celtic music unaccompanied. Is there something special about the Anglo-Irish-Scots music that lends itself especially to the unaccompanied voice? Even the American songs I've heard sung unaccompanied and solo seem to relate to that cultural heritage.

Opinions?


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 04:32 PM

Naemason, when I sing, it's a capella as well.

I don't play any instruments or usually sing with anyone else. When I do sing with someone, it's usually a capella as well. Mostly Gaelic songs, and some puirt.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Noreen
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 04:46 PM

It's how the music developed, I suppose, Naemanson. I was brought up singing Irish traditional songs which have always been unaccompanied and so have a strong melodic line with much, variable ornamentation. They are often modal, so if an accompaniment is added which doesn't take account of that, the whole nature of the song is changed. I do like to sing other songs with instruments, but it depends on the song.

Noreen


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Diva
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 04:52 PM

I sing unaccompanied ballads and a few other folkie things too,for example....Lord Randal, Binourie, Bleacherlassie o' Kelvinhaugh, Bound tae be a row, The wee toun clerk etc etc etc. I have tried singing to an accompniament,but I never sing a song the same way twice. I don't play an instument. In 20 years of singing I have been lucky to hear some of the greats. Belle Stewart,Lizzie Higgans,Willie Scott all sadly gone. I am privilaged to count among my friends and mentors singers Gordeanna McCulloch and Cy Laurie. Through Cy I got to hear the late Sean McDonnagh (sp) of Carna, my first experience of the sean nos style. I don't speak any Gaelic,Irish or Scots but I got the gist of it and it was wonderful. And I got to sing in his company too and he was comlimentary about my singing.....WOW. So big ballads are the business. I love 'em


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Mbo
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 05:26 PM

Oh no! Is this the beginning of the end of accompanied singing? Think I'm gonna be out of a job!


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Noreen
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 05:29 PM

Nah, there's room for all sorts of music Matty, and always will be.

Noreen


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: sophocleese
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 06:31 PM

Well I used to say that I sang unaccompanied because I'd drive anybody who attempted to play along up the wall. Now I sing in a duo with a guy who plays guitar much better than I do. Of late we haven't been practicing as much as we used to and I'm finding that I'm enjoying singing a lot more again without the guitar. I sing differently when I have someone else playing guitar with me. I sing my worst when I try to play guitar for myself.

I'm a lousy beginner guitar player but having the guitar becomes addictive. Soon I start feeling that I NEED the guitar to sing properly. I noticed that I'm not learning tunes as thoroughly because I can rest on the guitar instead of relying only on my voice to stay in tune and not gradually work myself up higher and higher.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: DougR
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 06:38 PM

I've really enjoyed reading this thread. Thanks for posting it Naemanson. Frankly, it never occurred to me to sing without accompaniment ...'til now.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: DougR
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 06:43 PM

Sorry. I intended to include this in the thread above. Burl Ives sings a beautiful short song without accompaniment on his "The Wayfaring Stranger" LP that I think would not be nearly as effective with accompaniment; "Colorado Trail." I have sung that one at open mic night at the local pub.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: GUEST,emily b
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 06:49 PM

I sing both accompanied (by others)and a cappella. The a cappella singing tends to command more respect from the listeners. I'm not sure how long this respect could last though. Usually, at least in Houston, we hear one a cappella song among many with accomaniment. So I'm wondering if it is the contrast that makes a cappella singing special. Kind of like "if you want to get someone's attention, whisper."

BigDaddy, I'd love to hear the results of your a cappella evening. Please keep the 'cat posted when you do this.

emily b


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Diva
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 08:10 PM

Until a few years ago it never occured to me to sing WITH accompniment.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: GUEST,Jackie B
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 08:42 PM

The nice thing about singing on your own (unaccompanied) is, 'The poetic licence', depending on your mood (or how much drink one has SWALLIED) you can vary the ballad to suit how you feel. That does make a BIG difference !!! Bush - makes me slur my notes into one another, gin - makes me miss the odd word, Poteen - makes me sing a three part harmony at the same time. I'm working on Rum & coke for the Slieve Gullion weekend coming up in October. Jackie B


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Alice
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 10:10 PM

there is a previous thread from a couple of years ago on this subject:sean nós singers


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: DougR
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 10:45 PM

Having heard you tonight on "Hear Me," Diva, I can understand why you are comfortable singing unaccompanied. You are very good.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: jacko@nz
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 11:06 PM

I've just deleted a whole load of rubbish that I had been going to post here. Suffice to say there is no way at all that I could ever get right inside a song while I was playing anything. I've tried but the amount of concentration on the instrument is just that much that isn't applied to the song, and that's the song's loss.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: rabbitrunning
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 11:17 PM

I usually sing unaccompanied, because I can't play any instrument well enough to sing and play, but mostly because my public singing is generally done to smallllll people who think any song is great if it has hand motions or enough of a beat to wiggle your butt to.

(YES, she's going to sing another chorus of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider! Hoooraay!)


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: campfire
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 12:09 AM

I also sing unaccompanied more often than not. Often it's because I sing in unusual places where I didn't plan to, so don't have my guitar, but I'll admit sometimes I "forget" my guitar on purpose. I'm not that good a player, anyway.

Besides, mostly I sing around campfires and you can't swat mosquitos while you're playing. And I know the words to hundreds of songs that I haven't taken the time to learn on the guitar.

campfire


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Tinker
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 12:10 AM

Lullabyes are bye far my most frequent public singing. If I'm settling a cabin or traveling group of teens the guitar with a steady repetitive pick reinforces the "Lulling" message of the long ballad or lullabye i'm using. But when you get down to the younger hold outs nothing beats the personal message of an acapella lullabye.There's a connection made and the instrument only gets in the way.

Blessings

Tinker


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Bearheart
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 12:35 AM

A lovely thread. I've sung in all kinds of configurations-- unaccompanied, accompanying self, others accompanying-- and enjoy it all. But some of my best memories are of singing in the car on long trips with my family, through snowstorms singing Chritmas carols for instance, and I think that's one of the reasons I like singing without instruments, but with others.

It's true too, as someone said, that singing is a very sensuous experience, the way that it feels in the body, and that can best be felt when singing alone because your attention is totally on the experience and you don't need to think about what your hands are doing or about anyone else's involvement, though there's a different kind of excitement to the experience when it is shared, especially with another singer(s).

I also agree with everything GUEST,RUSS said. Well put.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Mbo
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 12:37 AM

See? I KNEW it! DIE accompanied singing, DIE!!!


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: DougR
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 01:03 AM

Naw, MBO, it's just an alternative. But a bit more intimate than singing with an accompanist. DougR


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Mbo
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 01:17 AM

Please.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Naemanson
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 10:15 AM

(Visualize a sensuous beckoning hand, a dreamy, smoky, sexy voice calls) Follow me, Mbo, away from those instruments and into a world free of their slavery. No more tedious tuning, no more lugging all those cases. Follow meeee...

I had not heard the term "sean nos" before now. I guess I have a lot to learn (no surprise there).

There is a lot to do with sean nos that you cannot do with acompaniment. I have a friend who is working hard to learn to play an instrument so she can sing folk music. She flatly rejects a capella work. On the other hand, othough I do not play the guitar with any kind of finesse I sometimes use it more as an ornamentation or underlayment for a song. When I do "Blackflies" I find the use of the guitar slows me down which is helpful. I love fast tongue twister songs and have a tendency to sing them too fast.

So when I do use the guitar I do it because the song just doesn't seem to stand on its own without it. I still keep the guitar work to an absolute minimum largely because anything else will distract me from my voice but also because the song is more important than the accompaniment.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: GUEST,Fibula Mattock
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 10:33 AM

D'you know, it's strange because when I think of folk songs I automatically think of sean nos singing. Perhaps it's because I grew up listening to such singing from the likes of my uncle and others in all the sessions and fleadhs I was taken to as wee girl. There are so many songs that I couldn't conceive of hearing in any form other than a pure, straight unaccompanied voice. In a different vein to all the ballads I also love the sound of everyone singing together around the fire when I take my Girl Guides camping - it's just a lovely fresh and heartfelt sound, and when people are smiling as they sing you can really hear it!


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Catrin
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 10:51 AM

I love singing unnacompanied. I sing whenever I can. Alone (especially if there is no-one in the house) or in public, if people seem willing to listen. I play penny whistle but never bring it out with me because, given the choice, I far far prefer to sing.

Sometimes people pick up guitars to play along - that can work if the guitarist keeps sort of in the background. Sometimes though (and this might be a gender issue) the guitarist decides that I'm singing it too high/low or whatever and raises the volume, tempo or whatever... This will result in my voice becoming a sort of squawk.

I love singing in a group, in harmony. One of the biggest buzzes there is, is to feel the notes blend and to think I'm part of it all.

I love the stories too but the whole thing culminates in, as prevbiously mentioned, an incredible sensual experience.

Just thought I'd share that.

Catrin (who rarely sings accompanied)


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Alice
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 11:49 AM

I'm sitting here looking at a postcard recently received from Ennis, Co. Clare, of Custy's Traditional Music Shop. One of the flute players who attends our session, an Englishman who is teaching at the local university, is in Ireland for some music and learning. His postcard describes his trip - "Last night's fun was especially memorable: flute players Paul McGramon, Peter Molloy, Harry Bradley; and box phenomenon Sharon Shannon, all in the local pub! Got home at 3:300 a.m. and they tell me it ended at 5:00! Great sean nos at Gielry's pub, too, Colm O'Donnell from Sligo. Wish you could hear it. - Simon"

Simon understands why I stand up and sing alone without the guitar at our session, and a few others know that there is an actual tradition of sean nos, but I have had to tell people to not try to play along. There is one person in particular who feels compelled to sing along, even when she has never heard the song before. I keep repeating that solo unaccompained singing is an Irish tradition, but somehow, for some people, the message just doesn't get through. I do know that as soon as I start, the room always gets very quiet and attention is held through the song. There is no other solo music that has the ability for keeping attention for so long, because people are hearing the STORY, which they don't hear with instruments. There is more emotion communicated, as well. Joe Heaney, "Say the song".

Alice


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Alice
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 11:56 AM

I should have written, -There is no other solo music that has the ability for keeping attention for so long, because people are hearing the STORY, which they don't hear with instrumental solos.


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: GUEST,Mbo_at_ECU
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 12:11 PM

Someone tell Tom Paxton that he's WRONG!


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Ferrara
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 12:21 PM

Naemanson, you asked whether unaccompanied singing mostly comes from the Scots-Anglo-Irish tradition. Resounding and emphatic no! -- But how many people here sing in any other ethnic idiom?

Last year at FSGW Getaway, Mudcatter uillean and another attendee whose name I'm sure to misspell if I try, did a glorious half hour set of unaccompanied Bavaraian style (If I remember correctly) harmonies with spectacular yodeling thrown in. Of course,it wasn't solo singing so you may say it doesn't count....

I sing two versions of "Bella Ciao" in Italian and always sing them a capella. They are too intense to sing with an accompaniment as far as I'm concerned.

I agree with you all, that to really connect with the subtleties and meaning and feeling of a song, one needs to have one's mind on the song and the singing and nothing else. I often play Civil War songs accompanied by my zither, but when I sang at the Washington Folk Festival it was outdoors and I knew I couldn't rely on the zither, so I sang them unaccompanied. I was amazed at the difference that I get when all my attention is on the song. It's very rewarding.

Rita Ferrara


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Subject: RE: Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Aug 00 - 12:30 PM

HearMe last night (8/24) was a ball for me, because the thread talked about unaccompanied singing. Of the nine songs I sang, seven were unaccompanied. I usually only slide in one in a HearMe evening.

Dave Oesterreich


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