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Why singer/songwriters?

steve t 04 Aug 97 - 06:57 PM
Bert Hansell 05 Aug 97 - 08:28 AM
05 Aug 97 - 09:13 AM
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Subject: Why singer/songwriters?
From: steve t
Date: 04 Aug 97 - 06:57 PM

I've just been idly wondering -- why does everyone seem to prefer singer/songwriters to good singers? My ideas are:

-it's easy to prefer a song the way one first learned it. -we've an instinct to value the original -- heck, even I'd value an original Van Gogh *slightly* more than a good copy -there's the attraction of conformity -- that is, since in North America singer/songwriters are more highly esteemed than straight singers, good feelings one has for particular singer/songwriters are more likely to be reinforced by the community -there's attraction in uniqueness -- if you only have the money to buy the recording/go out and see *one* performer do the song, why not go and see the writer at the same time and there's only one way to do that... -many great singers are good enough that they're pleasant even when singing their own mediochre songs. -many great songwriters write so well that a collection of their songs is pleasant even when they sing it. -there is a certain pleasure in seeing a difficult task done well and singer/songwriting is more difficult. -there is some pleasure in finding good music, and perhaps more pleasure still in being among the first to find music that others will soon learn to appreciate -- that is more likely to happen with new songs from singer/songwriters.

some things I don't agree with: -one hears a lot about the authenticity of emotion expressed by singers singing songs they've written...and while there is some truth to the idea, I don't think most good songs are that *exact* that there can only be one "authentic" set of emotions for each song. For example, Prince's recorded "Nothing Compares to U" may be exactly what Prince wanted, but that doesn't mean that Sinead's interpretation doesn't contain "authentic" emotions true to the song.

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Subject: RE: Why singer/songwriters?
From: Bert Hansell
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 08:28 AM

I just WISH that some one would sing my songs ;-)

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Subject: RE: Why singer/songwriters?
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 09:13 AM

Nice to hear that attitude. What turned me off filk (sci-fi/parody oriented folk) before I ever got into it was their attitude, not merely that they didn't publish lyrics when an author purposefully denied permission, but that they didn't pass on lyrics unless permission was specifically given to do so. Yuck. Filk is based on stealing someone else's tune...

But my suggestion is: put your songs on the web. Midi seems to be the route Digital Tradition has taken. Alternatives include "wav" files and files for real audio. Wave files take up tremendous space when they're CD quality (172 K per second), but are much smaller when reduced to "radio" quality (22 K per second) or "telephone" quality (11 K per second) (1024 K = 1 MB = approx. 5 minutes download on a 28,800 modem). So, hmmm, a four minute song at "telephone" quality would still amount to a 2.6 MB file. Bigger than I'd thought.

Personally, I like looking through song lyrics. If the lyrics seem interesting, I'd readily download the midi for a song. If that sounded interesting, I'd be happier if there were a wav file or something to give me a better sense of the song. I've tried imagining several songs from the midi files on Digital Tradition. Some songs are easily understood from midi, some aren't.

USENET (what people used to think of when they thought of the helpful old internet) is much easier than setting up a web page. You could post lyrics there, perhaps even midi files and then offer to send along wav files (probably parts of wave files) via email to people who request them.

There's a USENET group you can post to: But I'd suggest instead posting to a folk discussion like:

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