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A'capella or not?

Margo 02 May 01 - 03:50 PM
Kim C 02 May 01 - 03:58 PM
Chicken Charlie 02 May 01 - 04:28 PM
Chicken Charlie 02 May 01 - 04:37 PM
mousethief 02 May 01 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,Russ 02 May 01 - 04:42 PM
GUEST,Gern, who has given up on his cookie 02 May 01 - 05:35 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 02 May 01 - 05:38 PM
Margo 02 May 01 - 06:05 PM
wysiwyg 02 May 01 - 06:42 PM
Murray MacLeod 02 May 01 - 07:21 PM
John Hardly 02 May 01 - 07:28 PM
Mark Cohen 02 May 01 - 07:35 PM
cait 02 May 01 - 07:50 PM
Margo 02 May 01 - 08:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 May 01 - 08:12 PM
Barry Finn 02 May 01 - 09:18 PM
John Hardly 02 May 01 - 09:24 PM
Dani 02 May 01 - 09:42 PM
wysiwyg 02 May 01 - 11:43 PM
Kaleea 02 May 01 - 11:45 PM
cait 03 May 01 - 09:41 AM
KingBrilliant 03 May 01 - 10:04 AM
RichM 03 May 01 - 10:12 AM
Steve Parkes 03 May 01 - 10:38 AM
Margo 03 May 01 - 12:44 PM
zander (inactive) 03 May 01 - 01:56 PM
cait 03 May 01 - 02:07 PM
harpmolly 03 May 01 - 02:10 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 03 May 01 - 04:58 PM
Margo 03 May 01 - 05:31 PM
harpmolly 03 May 01 - 06:28 PM
Burke 03 May 01 - 07:12 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 04 May 01 - 11:14 AM
Dave the Gnome 04 May 01 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,JohnB 04 May 01 - 12:57 PM
cait 04 May 01 - 08:18 PM
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Subject: A'capella or not?
From: Margo
Date: 02 May 01 - 03:50 PM

I'm entered in a singing competition at a bluegrass festival. I'm singing "Who'll Watch the Home Place". For my second song I had chosen a sort of cowboy song, but it is too short, I've decided.

Would it be too strange to sing something a'capella like a gospel song? If you heard a song a'capella at a bluegrass festival, what do you imagine would be a good one? Any ideas? Margo


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Kim C
Date: 02 May 01 - 03:58 PM

Gospel songs are great acapella. Go for it.


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 02 May 01 - 04:28 PM

Margo--

I think a capella singing was one of the things that was put on the endangered species list by the commercialization of "folk" in the sixties, where too much was I-IV-V done on nylon stringed guitars, period. A capella needs to be plugged; this is a noble cause. Go for it.

As to material, spirituals are nice. Also give thought to the Scottish stuff because that was traditionally sung a.c., with all the little vocal tricks that make it less bland to listen to.

I personally like "The Little Brown Bulls," which is an American logging song from the Great Lakes region. I can send you words, but communicating the melody will be a bit of a chore. Tell me if you want it and how long we've got. Which part of the world are you in?? I could send a tape.


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 02 May 01 - 04:37 PM

Margo--

Whaddya know. Little Brown Bulls is on DT with "Click to Play" option. That solves transmission problem. See what you think. But if you don't do this, yes, do something a.c.

Best wishes, CC


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: mousethief
Date: 02 May 01 - 04:38 PM

I sang "Up the Noran Water" a.c. at a local open-mike where everybody plays guitars with built-in "acoustic" pre-amps (i.e. a heavily instrumental bunch!).

And it was VERY well received. Wherefore I say:

GO FOR IT!

Alex


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 02 May 01 - 04:42 PM

I've been attending the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival for years. Gospel songs done a capella are very common for the Sunday Morning performances.


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: GUEST,Gern, who has given up on his cookie
Date: 02 May 01 - 05:35 PM

I've been considering this sort of competition this year, at either bluegrass or old-time championships, and have also wondered about acapella. Can someone tell me how bluegrass vocals are judged? What criteria? What works best?


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 02 May 01 - 05:38 PM

I've never been to a bluegrass competition (not too many of those up here in Cow Hamster) but I am an ardent a cappella singer and supporter and I join the (a cappella) chorus singing: Go For It!!


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Margo
Date: 02 May 01 - 06:05 PM

Where the heck is Cow Hamster? Is that a mis"pronunciation" of your town?


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 02 May 01 - 06:42 PM

I think you will stop the show and provide a needed respite from all the strings. Especially if you stand there, a lone figure, centering yourself for a moment and attracting interest by being just one lil ole person...

And I think the energy you get back from the crowd will power your singing to a whole new level.

~S~


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 02 May 01 - 07:21 PM

Yes, I can wholeheartedly vouch for all that has been said so far. The only time I get the audience quiet is when I sing acapella. Seems like not many people do it in America, in Scotland we did it all the time 'cos we couldn't afford guitars .............

Alex, you amaze me, I didn't think anybody outside of Scotland would have heard of that song, let alone sung it unaccompanied to an American audience. There is a hilarious parody of "Up the Noran Water" which I posted as a "Lyr.Add" some months ago. I guess it is only funny if you know the original.

Murray


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: John Hardly
Date: 02 May 01 - 07:28 PM

I've never heard you sing but if you can REALLY let go, "Who Will Watch..." will absolutely stop the show done sans accompaniment. I would edit it though, as I believe it's nearly 6 minutes long with all the verses. Don't forget that It's nearly four and 1/2 minutes before it goes acapela, and then its a building climax of four-part harmony.

JH


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 02 May 01 - 07:35 PM

Margo, I'm a great believer in a capella singing. (Probably has something to do with not being a very good guitarist!) For some reason, the song that jumped to mind when I saw your post was Kate Wolf's The Lilac and the Apple. But there are lots of others, that I just can't think of at the moment. Something like "Amazing Grace", that's well known but gives you the opportunity to put your own stamp on it, might be fun, too. If something more specific comes to mind I'll get back to you. Have fun!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: a capella or not?
From: cait
Date: 02 May 01 - 07:50 PM

hi margo,

i sing at a local open mic night 'bodles opera house': http://www.bodles.com/

it's a really great open mic place, btw, the folks are fun and nice, the sound system is well run and at least half the audience is there to listen. it used to be a 3 song per place but just went to 2.

anyway, i don't play guitar, but there's usually a kind soul who'll play one or two for me, but to give them a break, i always sing at least one number a capella. the crowd always seem to enjoy it, it's sort of my trademark now. seems to 'wow' those who never would dare, but for me, it's biz as usual since i never accompany myself at home.

go for it, darlin.

*caiti*


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Margo
Date: 02 May 01 - 08:03 PM

I'm looking at doing "Down to the river (valley) to pray". But it is so repetitive, with the only changes being Oh, brother or oh sister, mother, father, etc. I haven't been able to come up with much in the way of vocal variations so I'm not sure it will work... But thanks for all your input. I am looking forward to singing a'capella now! Margo


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 May 01 - 08:12 PM

a'capella, acapella, a cappella. I'm glad I'm not the only persopn who doesn't have a clue how to spell it. (Yup, I know how the Italians spell it, but words often change when they get incorporated into the language.)

I'm puzzled how the phrase seems to have erupted as a replacement for what I have always called "singing unaccompanied". I'm sure that it actually should mean a particular careful and consciusly pretty way of singing unaccompanied that might be appropriate for singing, as a solo or in a small group, in church. The way I sing unaccompanied songs, I'd never dream of using the term.


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 02 May 01 - 09:18 PM

Hi Margo, seeing as I mostly sing worksongs & only play a bodhran(I also often accompany myself on the drum) I find it hard to find any fault in singing unaccompanied. Some songs may work better this way some may not, on the other hand some that don't with your own personnal stamp might turn out to be all the better for it. Some of the bluegrass songs that may be unaccompanied don't work solo, for example "Daniel Prayed" then you take "Hello Stranger" works well solo or with others. I'd say there find a song that you think fits you & your style, find one that you feel is exciting to sing, if you feel there's not enough variation or it's to ridged for you, you won't get it past those listening, pick a song that fits you like a glove. I sing a song that I love from the BWI "Come Down You Roses Come Down" it only works with 3 or more & I've only done it with part of the Johnson Girls & Nex Tradition, so I get to sing it at best twice a year, sucks when you've got a good song but it's only worth doing when all the makings are in the right place & time. I used to sing "I'm working on a building" always found it enjoyable to sing on my own but again it's personnal taste. Good Luck & let us know how it all turned out. Barry


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: John Hardly
Date: 02 May 01 - 09:24 PM

Ever Heard "City Called Heaven"? It's a killer aqua pillow song. I first heard Jubilant Sikes do it on PHC. Later I heard another incarnation of it by Tim O'Brien. If you don't have a terribly close deadline I could send you a tape. --JH


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Dani
Date: 02 May 01 - 09:42 PM

Now, I don't know a damn thing about bluegrass festivals, but a capella I do know - 'cause I haven't had the time to learn any of the instruments I WISH I could play, and can't keep from singing in the meantime!

I say go for it. And do what Barry said; do what Barry DOES. Sing the song that you sing in the shower, the car, the laundry room. The one that gives YOU goosebumps when you sing it.

Dani


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 02 May 01 - 11:43 PM

Hmmm... well, because of the movie, everyone there will know Down to the River... and I think they may either sing with you and possibly throw you off, or feel like it is not as original as you might like to seem.

What would happen in a competition if it became songleading instead of performing? Hmmmm....

When I cut loose in the car it always seems to be Swing Low Sweet Chariot, but with a lot of new verses, a jazz or blues twist to the notes, and improvisation. (I am often not sure it is me singing-- apparently on some days my inner child is from the inner city.) How about you?

What do you wish you had the guts to sing full out in front of the world? Sing THAT one.

~S~


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Kaleea
Date: 02 May 01 - 11:45 PM

Margo, I am a vocalist also and often the acapella songs done in the Irish style (with much ornamentation such as grace notes & turns) take the show. How about something like the following: I am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger @tempo of 69 What Wondrous Love is This (this one's best a capella!) Sweet Hour of Prayer (not too slow) On Jordan's Stormy Banks (maybe @ 92-96 & highly ornamented with lots of turns) Good Luck! Let us know how you do!


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Subject: RE: a capella or not?
From: cait
Date: 03 May 01 - 09:41 AM

Margo,

i sang 'down in the river to pray' a capella and they loved it, there are some other changes if you listen closely. the words change a bit in each verse and there are 2 versions of the chorus...'starry crown' or 'robe and crown'...

you can also do some variations on the tune, go up on some parts for intensity, do some note shaping.

anyway, it was very well received when i did it. not everyone knew it, surprisingly, though i and some others have been raving on about the movie and music since it came out.

*caiti*


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 03 May 01 - 10:04 AM

No idea about bluegrass I'm afraid, but I'm all in favour of unaccompanied singing. As has been said, it'll provide a nice bit of variety & should therefor be refreshing for the audience. I love singing unaccompanied (I'm a really crap guitarist) & you can really play with the song & give it some oomph when you can concentrate totally & completely on the singing of it.
Definitely go for it.

If you could 'scuse my ignorance for a moment, can someone give me a general idea of what constitutes bluegrass & what it isn't. Any sites with some bits to listen to?

Cheers'm'dears
Kris


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: RichM
Date: 03 May 01 - 10:12 AM

Listen to Dan Tyminski's CD "Carry Me Across The Mountain" .
It's a good introduction to 'Grass...
He's the singer who did the actual singing for George Clooney in "O Brother,Where Art Thou?".

Rich McCarthy


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 03 May 01 - 10:38 AM

A lot of famous musicians have bveen saying for centuries that the finest musical instrument is the unaccompanied human voice, and you know, I think they're right! When you sing without playing, you're concentrating all your art, all your creativity into a single channel, letting the song come straight from your heart to your mouth. Well, sometimes it feels like that! And put two or three or four voices together, and ... well, I can't think of any sufficiently rapturous expressions, but I'm sure you know exactly what I mean.

knock 'em dead!

Steve


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Margo
Date: 03 May 01 - 12:44 PM

John, I've never heard of "City Called Heaven" but I'd like to hear it... The competition isn't until the end of June.

I'm also entering in the clawhammer banjo and flatpicking categories. I must be crazy. But I want to do it because of a couple of reasons. For one thing, it's out of my comfort zone, so I'll do it for the growth. Also, I'm recovering from classical vocal training, and I want to get a handle on how well I'm doing a losing that influence. I'm having fun discovering my "plain" voice (no vibrato). Make no mistake, it takes every bit as much concentration and technique to sing "plainly". (THread creep on my own thread! Shame, shame! *red face*)

Cait, what do you mean by "note shaping"? I've heard of shape note singing, is it related to that?

Barry, I'm glad you mentioned Daniel Prayed as one that won't work, because I was considering trying to do it!

Susan, I think it would be a gas if people starting in singing with me, I'd encourage it.

Thanks Muddies, Your input has helped me to confirm that singing a'capella is what I want to do!

Margo


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 03 May 01 - 01:56 PM

I agree with McGrath of Harlow, folk songs are ' unaccompanied ' ,why do all these people insist on calling it ' a capella ', which means ' in the style of the church ' and does not particularly apply to folksongs. Dave


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: cait
Date: 03 May 01 - 02:07 PM

yes, margo, it is the same. good luck.

*caiti*


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: harpmolly
Date: 03 May 01 - 02:10 PM

I've sung a cappella at a crowded Irish bar in Portland (Biddy McGraw's) many a time. I usually haven't had much trouble getting the crowd to quiet down.

Of course, some of that has to be due to oul' Biddy herself grabbing the mike and hollering, "Everybody shut the @#$!!! up right now or get the hell out and go to Kells, people!" *grin*

But seriously, a cappella is the best. You set your own rhythm, your most comfortable key, and only have to keep track of one instrument ;).

(Also a note to Barry Finn--voice & bodhran is one of my favorite combinations, too. I'd like to learn the bodhran just for that reason. Hearing Christy Moore sing "The Well Below the Valley" with bodhran chills my blood. :D)

M


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 03 May 01 - 04:58 PM

Margo, I've been way too busy to pay enough attention to this thread for the past 24 hours and I couldn't believe it when I saw that you were thinking of 'Down to the river to pray-" since that was the song that popped into my head as soon as I first started reading this thread!! It's a great song, and you can vary it a lot with singing softer, louder, changing the emphasis on words, etc.
Allison in Cow ("New") Hamster ("Hampshire")


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Margo
Date: 03 May 01 - 05:31 PM

Cow Hamster - LOL!

Mollificent, I know of a good bodhran teacher who lives in Beaverton. Do you know Jonathan Lay? Check out Shanghaied on the Willamette. He's the guitar player in the photo. Surprised I haven't run into you in Portland. I'm in Vancouver... Margo


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: harpmolly
Date: 03 May 01 - 06:28 PM

Cool! Thanks for the info! :D


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Burke
Date: 03 May 01 - 07:12 PM

Last fall I saw a pre-release film on Hazel Dickens. On in she sings an acappella version of How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours, that has to be related to the old Shape Note tune Green Fields. I asked about it being on CD, the answer was no. I've also seen this in old Methodist Hymnals.

The Bluegrass gospel "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" might work acappella. "I will arise" is another old folk hymn that might work. I like the 'Wayfaring Stranger' suggestion as well.

Some old standards that might be Ok for bluegrass, but I'm not sure: 'Rock of Ages,' 'It is well with my soul,' 'Nearer, my God, to Thee.'


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 04 May 01 - 11:14 AM

Margo, be sure to keep us posted as to how it goes. When is the festival?


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 May 01 - 11:28 AM

Just for the record (an' I only know coz I was told on the other a cappella thread) A cappella (2 p's) is in the style of the church (cappella=chapel)- there is a reason a church is cappella as well - see the other thread. A capella (1 p) would be in the style of the hair! (capella=hair)

So I have no chance of singing A capella, having no hair to go at!

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: A'capella or not?
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 04 May 01 - 12:57 PM

Most of what I do is a cappella, the last eight years or so in group with 7 others, now defunctish. So we are starting up again with three of us, again a cappella. On the subject of hair, a cappella songs are the only ones that make those little hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The true greatnes of a cappella singing though is that it was created for guitarists like me. JohnB


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Subject: RE: a capella or not?
From: cait
Date: 04 May 01 - 08:18 PM

margo:

last night i sang 'the butcher boy' with all the pathos i could summon, and i must say it was well received.

*caiti*


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