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Singing In Dialect

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Jerry Rasmussen 07 Oct 01 - 04:01 PM
Geoff the Duck 07 Oct 01 - 04:25 PM
GUEST,Butch (at work) 07 Oct 01 - 04:34 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 07 Oct 01 - 05:35 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Oct 01 - 05:46 PM
bill\sables 07 Oct 01 - 06:06 PM
Mr Red 07 Oct 01 - 06:06 PM
Dave the Gnome 07 Oct 01 - 06:17 PM
Dave the Gnome 07 Oct 01 - 06:19 PM
Phil Cooper 07 Oct 01 - 06:33 PM
Snuffy 07 Oct 01 - 06:43 PM
Susan of DT 07 Oct 01 - 07:06 PM
toadfrog 07 Oct 01 - 07:10 PM
Susan of DT 07 Oct 01 - 07:46 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 07 Oct 01 - 07:47 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 07 Oct 01 - 07:48 PM
Peg 07 Oct 01 - 07:50 PM
Malcolm Douglas 07 Oct 01 - 08:39 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 07 Oct 01 - 09:37 PM
Art Thieme 07 Oct 01 - 09:52 PM
Art Thieme 07 Oct 01 - 09:54 PM
Bob Bolton 07 Oct 01 - 11:34 PM
DonMeixner 07 Oct 01 - 11:54 PM
wysiwyg 08 Oct 01 - 12:22 AM
GUEST,Boab 08 Oct 01 - 02:53 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 08 Oct 01 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,PeteBoom (at work) 08 Oct 01 - 09:30 AM
GUEST,Russ 08 Oct 01 - 09:47 AM
John P 08 Oct 01 - 09:52 AM
BleedingHeart 08 Oct 01 - 09:54 AM
Peg 08 Oct 01 - 10:08 AM
Jim Dixon 08 Oct 01 - 11:26 AM
Rick Fielding 08 Oct 01 - 12:20 PM
Melani 08 Oct 01 - 01:52 PM
BleedingHeart 08 Oct 01 - 02:33 PM
Chicken Charlie 08 Oct 01 - 02:57 PM
Scabby Douglas 08 Oct 01 - 03:11 PM
little john cameron 08 Oct 01 - 03:12 PM
Peg 08 Oct 01 - 03:17 PM
BleedingHeart 08 Oct 01 - 03:51 PM
Art Thieme 08 Oct 01 - 04:05 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 08 Oct 01 - 05:16 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 08 Oct 01 - 05:21 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 08 Oct 01 - 05:23 PM
8_Pints 08 Oct 01 - 06:42 PM
little john cameron 09 Oct 01 - 11:19 AM
Scabby Douglas 09 Oct 01 - 11:36 AM
little john cameron 09 Oct 01 - 01:16 PM
Chicken Charlie 09 Oct 01 - 04:39 PM
PeteBoom 09 Oct 01 - 05:06 PM
8_Pints 09 Oct 01 - 05:13 PM
Bill D 09 Oct 01 - 06:45 PM
GUEST,Born Again Scouser 09 Oct 01 - 07:54 PM
Mark Cohen 09 Oct 01 - 08:10 PM
Mark Cohen 09 Oct 01 - 08:15 PM
Malcolm Douglas 09 Oct 01 - 09:04 PM
ddw 09 Oct 01 - 09:25 PM
John P 09 Oct 01 - 11:00 PM
Mark Cohen 09 Oct 01 - 11:19 PM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Oct 01 - 12:03 AM
Peg 10 Oct 01 - 12:39 AM
GUEST,Boab 10 Oct 01 - 02:15 AM
Melani 10 Oct 01 - 12:26 PM
Mrrzy 10 Oct 01 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Boab 11 Oct 01 - 02:40 AM
Coyote Breath 11 Oct 01 - 07:12 AM
John P 11 Oct 01 - 08:52 AM
little john cameron 11 Oct 01 - 09:37 AM
Scabby Douglas 11 Oct 01 - 09:48 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 20 Apr 11 - 12:37 AM
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Subject: Singing In Dialect
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 04:01 PM

Nobody knows de trouble obscene. Seein's as how almost all of us who sing traditional folk are revivalists, somewherre along the line we have to decide whether we try to retain a feel of the tradition by singing in a dialect that is not ours. When I was 25, I tried to sound like I was 66. Time has taken care of that problem. I tried to sound like a scratchy 78, for authenticities sake. Many blues revivalists tried to sound black... 1920s southern black. Most blacks I know today wouldn't be caught dead saying "I'se gwinea do dat." How do you honor the tradition, and a regional sound, and still make the song you're own, if you're from Weehawken? What is the best way to make an old southern blues, gospel or Appalachian ballad accessible to someone from Weehawken? Just wondering. Anybody from Weehawken?


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 04:25 PM

There are a number of scottish songs which I enjoy hearing, but I would never perform them myself because I cannot sing them in Mock Scottish. For me it does not work.
I know singers who are dialect chamelions. If they sing a song from Ireland it is in a stage Irish accent, if a Scottish song, a fake Scots accent. I personally find listening to the performance grates upon my nerves. In some cases it may be a question of degree. Some singers have a sensitivity to songs which allows the to perform them without turning them into a mockery of their subject.

My view is - If you can keep true to the spirit of the original, it may be acceptable. If you are simply creating a mocking stereotype, leave it well alone!
Geoff!


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: GUEST,Butch (at work)
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 04:34 PM

I don't know where you are from but I still know of black and white men and women who sound very close to the dialects written so many years ago. You just have to go deep into the middle of nowhere to find them these days.

If they are written in the music, I honor the music by singing them that way. I do, however, warn my audience if I feel that they might be offended. I give my audience credit for being smart enough to know if they wish to be offended ot not. Most times (99.09%) they are not offended and understand my reason for the dialect. The small number that are offended, at least understand my reasons. I don't care if they disagree with me so long as they can see my basic point of view.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 05:35 PM

Guest: It's not so much where I'm from as it is where my friends are from. I am a member of a 1500 member black Baptist Church, and with a few exceptions, almost everyone grew up in the South. I know for myself that you can lose a certain amount of local accent when you live in another part of the country most of your life. But, I don't know any blacks who sound like the old dialects. Sho nuff. Not saying that there aren't any. Anyway, I think that you've got it right... as long as you're straightforward and honest about it, very few people would find that offensive. To me, that's far less offensive than exagerating the dialect (Geoff the Duck) to the point where it seems like a characature. I've heard some whites do black music with such an exagerated dialect that it has almost spoiled the original recordings for me. Then, there are folks like Jack Elliot who grew up in Brooklyn and became an Okie. I love his singing because he has made the songs his own. Maybe that's the secret. If it ain't honest, it ain't folk music.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 05:46 PM

There's not much I hate more than listening to some wanker affect an accent/dialect!!

This goes for singers, actors and drunks at the bar...


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: bill\sables
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 06:06 PM

I think we must define "dialect" as oposed to "accent" here. I don't see anything wrong in a British singer singing a Scotish, Irish or American song and using words from the country of the writer. In your song "Handfull of Songs" Jerry, I would not think of changing the line "His old railroad watch" to "His old railway watch" but because I am not American I would never try to use an American accent to sing this song. I have seen too often English singers singing "Geordie " (Newcastle on Tyne area of Northern England) songs and trying to use a false Geordie accent, and to a Geordie it sounds is sounds auful. Sing the songs by all means but do it your way and don't try to copy an unfamliiar accent.
Bill


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Mr Red
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 06:06 PM

Surely it is all about entertaining the audience. With blues it is a posture. Aggression and "hard done by", or humour and "I'll be back", gruff and martyr, etc. If you ain't got the feel, the dielect is just gonna sound naff.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 06:17 PM

Ahm reet wi Bill on thisun.

I don't think that an affected accent realy works. There are one or two people who can get away with it but it is rare. My Grandad had a 'proper' Lancashire accent - I can still hear him in my head to this day - and for me to try the same (as above) would be totaly wasted.

Yes - do dialect words, but try and do an accect that is not yours and you will look a complete prat!

Just my opinion.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 06:19 PM

affected=effected (I think)

Eeeehburahmasillybiggersometeems

D.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 06:33 PM

Margaret and I, being Midwestern US, sing a lot of material from other parts of the english speaking world. We do them in our own voice, out of respect to where the songs came from. There are, indeed, some songs we can't do because of some dialectic things that would sound ridiculous in our midwestern accents. Early on, at an open stage in Chicago (about 20 years ago), a young singer from Glasgow got up to sing. Two of his songs were covers of Woody Guthrie,sung in what he believed to be an Oklahoma accent. My opinion is that you should feel the songs strongly enough to sing them in your own voice, whatever that may be.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Snuffy
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 06:43 PM

As Professor Joad used to say, "It all depends what you mean by ....".

In, say, "The Maid Gaed to the Mill" I deliberately change it from Scottish to English to make it suitable for me to sing, but in Les Barker's parody "Belle's Bonnie Bogie" the overdone "Scotch" accent is a large part of the song, so I really ham it up - the more over the top the better. (Although I think my fake Scottish accent is quite convincing, I don't know what a Scot would make of it)

WassaiL! V


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Susan of DT
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 07:06 PM

I don't think anglocizing Scots songs does them any good. And they don't rhyme without the Scots pronunciation. I often sing with some sort of Scots accent/pronunciation if that is how I heard the song. But I am afraid to sing any of those in Britain.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: toadfrog
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 07:10 PM

Nothing much for it. I try to sing Scottish and Irish stuff as close to an American accent as possible without doing violence to the song. But it's a bit hard to sing (say) The Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre in American. Well, I think Robert Burns asserted that Broad Scots is a "language" and not a "dilect." So some people are sometimes offended. But no one has ever told me that I sounded phoney -- only that I was phoney. Irishmen sometimes look at me oddly, out of the corner of their eye, and say "very interesting." You cannot please all of the people all of the time.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Susan of DT
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 07:46 PM

(dick greenhaus) Well, phony accents don't seem to have hurt people like Dylan or Jack Elliot much. Whatever works.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 07:47 PM

Humorous to see the responses. I'm pleased to see that most singers feel that you have to be comfortable with what you're singing, and that you can be truer to the song in your own accent or dialogue than trying to imitate one that's foreign to you. British Isles and black music aren't the only places where imitation occurs. When I first started singing traditional music, I might as well have put a clothes pin on my nose. I wanted to sound nasal, like to old recordings (some of which probably sounded more nasal than they were and reflected the primitiveness of the recording equipment at the time.) I associated vibrato with maiden Aunts in Methodists Choirs, and sang as flat (but on key) as a pancake.

Years ago, I remember John Roberts and Tony Barrand doing a parody of a cow puncher song, introducing it by saying that it was the only song they sung with an accent. And, Hello, Margaret and Phil. I met you at the Cafe Carpe in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, many years ago.. Any friend of Art Thieme's is a friend of mine..


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 07:48 PM

Some of us are posting spirituals in the dialect in which they were first written down, but anyone who tries to sing 19th Century dialect or vernacular, I think, is bound to get it wrong. The original is there for the record and because it may give the potential user some feel for the song that is not evident from a modern transcription. I agree with Geoff the Duck on this. On the other hand, if the vernacular is current and the singer knows it, excellent! The Scots have preserved much of their language but for others, like Susan, if they were not raised in the tongue, they can approximate and do their best. If the feeling and the expression is there, the mistakes are forgiven.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Peg
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 07:50 PM

I tend to sing Irish songs and Scottish songs and English songs with what I think is appropriate dialects, particularly if the lyrics contain that dialect....

I would agree I do not like to listen to it if it is done badly...I think I do it well. (Maybe Mudcatters who have heard me sing can speak to this) I studied and perfromed a lot of dielect in acting classes for years and also studied modern Irish and Gaelic and was always told by teachers my pronunciation was very good...

I can also speak in convincing dialects and accents...and sometimes do so in England so I am not thought a tourist. have fooled a great many people (I think, anyway).


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 08:39 PM

It can sometimes be necessary to use a particular pronounciation of a word -usually the word ending- in order to preserve a rhyme-scheme.  That doesn't have to involve affecting a fake accent, which is best avoided unless you particularly want to insult people.  Pronounciation and accent are two quite different things, and with a bit of thought such things can quite easily be managed.  Singing in a language foreign to you is another matter, of course, and should never be attempted unless you understand that language sufficiently well to conduct a reasonable conversation in it.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 09:37 PM

Bill Sables: Just to confuse the issue, and old friend of mine, Roy Harris became enamored of a song that I wrote about a floating dance hall called the Silver Queen. The Silver Queen was built to move houses down the river in my hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. During the second wolrd war, business slowed down so someone painted the boat silver, put railings and benches around the flat deck, hung some paper chinese lanterns and bought a juke box. I used to love to ride on the boat, and watch the young men home on leave, dancing with the local girls. Roy took the song, added concertinas and a chirrupy chorus of girls singing with British accents, and made it into a period English song. An absolutely delightful transformation. It was no longer American, and I must admit, I liked it better as a forgotten world war II English song. If he'd tried to make it sound American, it would have sunk, like the Silver Queen eventually did, and a charming recording would never have occurred. Thanks, Roy!


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 09:52 PM

Hey, Jerry, I'd not come into the Mudcat today and didn't know you were around with this thread. Good to see you here.
For me, if I ever tried to sing with any dialect it'd come out like a cross between Yiddish and Irish ---maybe like Mayor Briscoe in Dublin a while back. So I just sing 'em the best I can--which ain't no damn good lately.----------------------Anyhow, as I said, WELCOME!!!!!!!!!!!! These are good folks here pretty much (for the most part) even when they're flaming. They even talk about folksongs once in a blue moon.

Art


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 09:54 PM

Roy hangs here too. Goes by "Burl".

Art


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 11:34 PM

G'day Jerry,

Here in Australia, with our immigration history a bit closer than America's (at least for the British component) we get a lot of mixed or toned-down accents about the place. I don't think consciously about accent on British songs: it would be dangerous because I have always known that I tend to be an accent chameleon in conversation, finding (say) English people asking me what part of Englan I come from ... or locals around Sydney's "Little Italy" taking me for a 2nd generation immigrant.

Anyway, what I have to accept is that I will probably let a bit of "accent" creep in ... and I hope I sound like someone who has a lot of Australian accent on top of an older regional accent - or like the son of appropriately egional parents. (I guess that it helps that I grew up with grandparents from Portsmouth and Manchester areas). The Scots and Irish are the bigger probelms and I try only to retain the rhymes ... but I don't panic if there is some vestigial Scots or Irish ... as long as it is never 'stage' dialect.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: DonMeixner
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 11:54 PM

Singing in a dialect has alway been an issue with me. I never would do it unless it was an obvious burlesque of a song. "Henry the 8TH" for instance.

Some years back, Phil Shapiro who runs a great folk show called Bound For Glory on WVBR in Ithaca New York told me he'd like to have my partner and I on the show but we sang in a dilect not our own. This was news to us.

We were doing Clancy Brothers stuff and Corrie Folk Trio and Planxty at the time. If the lyrics used were "Dinna Ken" we sang them rather than "Don't Know". But we never intentionally tried to sound anything other than what we were.

By singing the language are you automatically assuming the dialect? By singing Whoopie Tye Yi OH am I trying to be more western than I am?

The band I'm in now has the same problem. Our front man tells folks his microphone came from Dublin and that explains his on again, off again brogue. AS for me, I stick to sounding purely upstate New York.

Last year a fan of the band, who also comes from Kerry, told me "Donn-O your starting to sound good enough to fool the neighbors. The voice is coming on just fine." Bust my tail to be me and someone else can't hear it.

Oh well.

Don Meixner


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: wysiwyg
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 12:22 AM

This is probably the wrong approach, but I can tell you what I have been doing without having thought it out first. I'm doing a lot of old negro spirituals in church now each week. I have to make up songsheets for the people, to use, too.

I do not go and consciously white-up or standardize the dialect when the version I have wanted to learn was in dialect. I have, tho, let the melody sink in and let it draw me into wanting to sing the piece, and then once it comes out of my mouth, that's my version, and I may add or change or re-order some verses, too, as I make up the songsheet the day we will introduce the piece in church.

And since you have asked, and I am thinking about what I have actually been doing, I see that what I am doing, regardless of the degree of dialect present when I first encouter the song, is putting the lyric into vernacular-- but MINE.

So I might, for instance, come across something I want to learn, that's full of "gwine"s. But I don't talk that way-- or think that way-- and neither do I say "Go-innnggG." When I talk, I usually say "Go-in'" or "Gonna." So when the song becomes mine, it acquires that tone. And it reflects every piece that I have ever heard or sung, cuz they are all in there somewhere.

I probably sing differently now than I did a year ago, for example, just because I spent a fair amount of the year hearing the pure form and then singing my form of southern gospel. This year's learning-project is the spirituals, and I am sure that by this time next year, they will have colored my expression further.

What I do NOT do is worry about it-- I just sing what I can sing freely and personally, and then I sing it freely and personally.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 02:53 AM

Being a Scot, I am only one in a whole nation of accent-imitators! I betray my age here, but I can remember all the would-be Gene Autreys, Bing Crosbys, Littls Richards, and so on right down to the Sinatras and Beatles . Hank Williams' stuff is jokingly known as "Glesga Country and Western". On the folk scene, I regularly give nodding acqiescence to the Irish tongue when I use Irish material. I was many years in "Geordieland" and am able to pass off many a Tyneside ditty in a decent Geordie accent. [I would draw the line at "the Lambton Worm", though!]. I am much more likely to shudder at the attempts of professional actors in their delivery of what they fondl;y imagine is a "Scottish" accent.The lone exception to that is the almost perfect use of a scottish accent by Robin Williams in "Mrs. Doubtfire". I have since learned that he thought he was using an IRISH brogue!


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 05:56 AM

Well, I sing the blues (and anything else) in a Birmingham accent,but, sadly, not the Alabama one. I guess all of us who like American music tend to adopt a mid-Atlantic accent. BBC-Announcer-style wouldn't work, somehow.
RtS


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: GUEST,PeteBoom (at work)
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 09:30 AM

SOME of the stuff written in Broad Scots or one of the many local dialects of English found across Britain simply cannot be pronounced, let alone sung, without the correct inflection - This can sometimes sound like one attempting to "do" an accent.

I tend to sing songs the way I learned them - If I got it off a Scot, I tend to adapt his inflections. I see it as part of the tradition OF the song itself. (eg., "I got this from Hamish X who had it from Ian Y who had it from Duncan Z. Duncan wrote the song for his father's brother's half-sister who was born in Dumfries and had a son that...") Giving a little introduction either on stage or in a session does a couple of things - if tells the story of the song (as opposed to the story the song is telling) and in a session, if the players have a clue, will illuminate the question of accompanying the song or not. For the audience listening, it ties them into the tradition of the song and makes them part of the story itself.

Some things simply don't work with an American accent. "If you can say 'It is a very brightly moon lit night'..." simply doesn't work in place of "If ye can say 'It's a braw bricht moon-licht nicht'..."

Ye ken?

Back to work -

Pete


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 09:47 AM

One problem I have experienced with mimicry: If you are not a member of a group and you try to mimic the group, you run a fairly good chance of annoying members of the group in your audience. Southerners tend to be sensitive to faux southerners, hillbillies ten to be sensitive to faux hillbillies, etc. Not defending it. Just reporting it.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: John P
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 09:52 AM

One of the defining aspects of traditional music, for me, is that it is local music. Doing local music from elsewhere doesn't really feel like folk singing to me. I tend to sing songs using the accent and dialect that folks around here use, no matter where the song is from. Sometimes that means changing the lyrics from whatever dialect I found them in to make them work in American English.

Carefully recreating a performance from the past and/or from somewhere else feels to me more like ethnomusicological research than folk singing.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: BleedingHeart
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 09:54 AM

i'm probably in the minority around here but i believe traditional music (well, most music in general, actually) is an ever-evolving, living entity and should be treated as such. even if we consciously try to adhere to a "traditional" sound, we bring our own cultural background & experience to each note and lyric every time we sing.

trying to adopt a performance affectation that isn't naturally yours (such as singing in broad scots when you were born & raised in omaha) does nothing to preserve the integrity of a song... in fact, it nearly always makes an audience uncomfortable! to be presented with an obvious, forced accent or dialect only enhances a performer's distance from the music. the point of performing is to bring the audience closer to the music - not alientate them with showy, unnatural sounds.

but that's just me. i hate hearing fake accents & i would never personally employ one.

~bleedingheart


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Peg
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 10:08 AM

But how does one pronounce (while singing) a word that is spelled in its dialect form? Seems to me someone pronouncing it in their native Omaha dialect would sound much sillier than that same singer trying to pronounce it (while singing) as it was meant to be pronounced...I should also say I do not personally "try to affect a fake accent" when I sing...it seems to arise quite naturally when I sing this style of music. And I am often asked when people have heard me sing before they have heard me speak if indeed I am irish or Scottish or what have you...I don't know if that is good or bad...but I know I am not trying to use the same sort of deliberate speech I employ when, as menioned earlier, I consciously *speak* with an accent to escape being thought an American tourist. Speaking in such a way requires much more effort for me than singing in any sort of accent. I am not sure why.

I maintain: it is not pleasant to hear this sort of thing when it is done badly. But if done well, where is the harm? It does sound like there is much more prejudice against Americans singing British Isle or Celtic-derived songs in a "fake" accent than, for example, Brits singing country music or blues in a "fake" accent which, it seems to me, would not sound ridiculous if they do not do so with parody in mind...

There is a sort of *neutral speech* often employed by those who have studied dialects and acting (like myself)--who tend to leave behind the regional dialect of their upbringing when speaking (in my case, the broad, flat vowels of wetsren NY state and, more recently, the provincial r-less accent of Boston). It seems to me there is also a sort of neutral "speech" employed in singing...and this includes, in folk and celtic music, pronouncing dipthongs that would be an absolute no-no in classical singing (which I have also studied and which has soem very specific constraints for production of English vowels and consonants--not to mention Italian and German).

Then again, plenty of English-speaking actors of stage and screen play quite convincingly in other dialects while retaining their own (Scottish or Australian, etc.) in normal everyday speech...


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 11:26 AM

Dialect was an issue for me long before I began singing. As a teenager in St. Louis, MO, I was mortified when a girl in my class told me I had an accent. Actually I was born and raised in St. Louis, but I must have picked up an accent from my parents. My father and mother had both grown up on farms in Kentucky and the Arkansas Ozarks, respectively. I was aware that THEY had an accent -- two different accents, actually -- but I thought I didn't. My father also used odd dialect words like "chimley" for "chimney" and "holp" (pronounced "hope") for "helped," and so on. Sometimes I think I could write a book about my father's speech patterns.

I took it for granted that an accent was something to be ashamed of. Like most teenagers, I wanted nothing more than to be just like everybody else, so I immediately started trying to get rid of my accent. I think I succeeded. But accents are relative -- when I moved to Minnesota (as a college student), I discovered that St. Louisans have an accent. And if you believe "Fargo," you might even think that Minnesotans have an accent!

As an adult, I grew to have more respect for accents and dialect. As an amateur actor, I discovered that I have a knack for them. To do them well, you have to study them. There are books and tapes (probably CD's nowadays) made for the specific purpose of training actors how to do accents. You can also do your own research.

If (some) actors can do it well, there's no reason (some) singers couldn't do it equally well. Talent has something to do with it, but I think it's mainly a matter of how much effort you want to put into it.

Dialect/accent is practically mandatory for some songs. I can't imagine singing "Dahn the Plug'ole" (see DT) without a cockney accent.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 12:20 PM

Oh Jerry, you bring back a painful moment for me. Years ago I was teaching guitar to a woman, and we spent quite a bit of time on the song "Summertime". Got her to use some lovely chords and was right proud of myself at the results. (pride goeth before the fall!)

She scored a very nice concert gig opening for an important Irish Quartet who were on tour. I was in the audience and was very pleased that she mentioned my input before singing the song. Then the shock....She sang it exactly as the period sheet music indictated, complete with "and de libben is easy", and "yo mammy's...". Stuff like that. This was in the 1980s and not the 30s, and you could just feel that collective "intake of breath" from the audience, at the "dialect approach". Scary.

Funny thing. I found one of the old songbooks that my mother (a professional pianist) had used in the thirties, called "Songs of the Sweet Sunny South". It was just riddled with "Coon" songs, and "Southern" dialect. She was well-read and quite liberal, yet probably wasn't horrified at the contents of the song book when she acquired it. Different times, I guess.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Melani
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 01:52 PM

When I sing an Irish or Scottish song, I leave in the dialect words thay simply have to be used, if they are needed to rhyme or would just sound funny if changed, and I tend to change the ones that are possible to English. I automatically fall into sort of an inflection rather than an actual accent, so hopefully it doesn't sound like I'm faking it badly, but rather acknowledging the song's origen. I once sang a funny Irish song that way, and afterwards an Irishman came up laughing and told me I'd just transported him back to Belfast (!), so I guess it doesn't come out too bad.

Andy Irvine tells a funny story about his youthful Woody Guthrie period, when he sang with an Okie accent. He met a girl early in the evening and spoke to her that way, not realizing they would be spending the evening together. He had to keep up the fake accent for hours. Along the way they ran into a cop who looked on young Irishmen with suspicion (they were in England), and what's more, knew Andy. The cop's face when he heard the Okie accent was something to see.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: BleedingHeart
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 02:33 PM

to answer peg's question: "But how does one pronounce (while singing) a word that is spelled in its dialect form?" i can only say that it is a matter of choice...

in many irish songs, for instance, the word: "Amerikay" comes up all too often. i never use it. it sounds weird to me - after all, i'm american - i call my country "america" and to call it amerikay just isn't legitimate for me as an american singer. sometimes i wreck the rhyme by singing "america" but i'd rather do that than compromise what i feel is the natural interpretation of the song. for me.

one of the greatest lessons i have learned since i began to perform traditional music is: in order to find the essence of a song & to convey that essence to listeners, as a performer i have to make the song my own. i bring it into me and then pass it to the audience. in making it "my own" i feel obligated to interpret, edit and pronounce in my personal, natural way.

~bleedingheart


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 02:57 PM

I have a fondness for Black tunes and have also ventured into some Scottish stuff now and again. With regard to the latter, the operative phrase is "put it across." If I do the John McLain (sp? too lazy to look) March as I heard it, the average American audience will find it "well nigh" (or damn near) incomprehensible, and might just think it a weird song, an effect I do not wish to create. On the other hand, in a classroom or some venue which is as much of a learning experience as a performance, doing Patrick Spens or True Thomas "authentick" can be a hoot. Like when my lit teacher read Chaucer as he pronounced it, to demonstrate the evolution of the English language.

Slightly off subject, but there are precedents above, I sing more nasally on some banjo & dulcimer tunes than on non-mountainy stuff. That too is in the name of faithfulness to the genre.

W/the Black and pseudo-Black (e.g. Kingdom Comin') material, the obvious caution of not reverting to blackface minstrelsy obviously applies. (I know, "Here we go again...") In my personal opinion, which is only that, Kingdom Comin' done heavily ebonically can't help but cause some folks unease; done in my natural sloppy Calif. Caucasian accent, it becomes an insightful, historically interesting song. With blues though, they didn't say "Going down the road feeling bad," they said "Gwine down 'a road feelin' bad," and changing that sort of sterilizes the whole thing to the point where I don't have the catharsis Aristotle promised me personally that I should get from singing funky tunes.

CC


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 03:11 PM

Amongst the weirdest things I have ever heard must be the choir my (now) wife sang in many years ago. Occasionally they'd venture into Spirituals and Stephen Foster songs. The lyric had always to taken exactly-as-written. So there'd be this whole massed choir of about 100 well-brought-up young (Scottish) women ... singing "Ohh dee Camptown ladeeez sing disss song...." All the "de"'s and "dis"'s being faithfully rendered in a very
c l e a r l y --- e n u n c i a t e d way..

My wife could never understand why I used to fall about...

Cheers

Steven


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: little john cameron
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 03:12 PM

Here's a guid ane tae practice oan.
my all time favourite by Flora Garry, late of Buchan Bennygoak (the hill of the cuckoo)

It wis jist a skelp o the muckle firth, A sklyter o' roch grun
Fan Gradfadder's fadder brike it in Fae the hedder and the funn.
Grandfadder sklatit barn and byre, Brocht watter tae the closs,
Put fail dykes ben the bare brae face An a cairt road tull the moss.

Bit wir fadder sotered in the yard And skeppit amo' bees
An keepit fancy dyeuks and doos At warna muckle 'eese.
He bocht aal wizned horse an kye An scrimpit muck and seed
Syne, clocherin wi a craichly hoast, He dwine't awa and dee'd.

Midder's growen aal and deen Dylet an sma-bookit tee
But still she's maister o' her wark. My wark, it maisters me.
Och! I'm tyert o' plyterin oot and in Amo' hens an swine an kye
Kirnin' amo' brookie pots an yirnin croods and fye.

I look far ower by Ythanside to Fyvie's laich, lythe laans,
Tae Auchterless and Bennachie and the mist blue Grampians.
Sair't o' the hull o' Bennygoak an' scunnert o' the fairm
Gin I but daar't, Gin I but daar't i'd flit the comin term.

It's ull to thole on the first Spring day Fin the black earth lies in clods,
An the teuchat's wallochin' at the ploo An the sna bree rins on the roads.
O, it's ull tae thole in the still hairst gloam Fan the lift's a bleeze o' fire;
Ah stan an' glower, the pail in ma haun, On ma raod oot tull the byre.

Bit it's wirst ava aboot Whitsunday Fan the nichts are quaet an' clear
An the floorin' currant's by in the yard An the green corn's in the breer
An the bird at gave this hull its name Yon bird ye nivver see
Sits doon in the wid by the waater side an laachs, laich-in, at me.

'Flit, flit ye feel,' says the unco bird 'There's finer, couthier folk
An kindlier country hine awaa Fae the Hull o' Bennygoak.'
Bit ma midder's growin aal and deen An likes her ain fireside.
Twid brak her hairt tae leave the hull: It's brakkin mine tae bide.

ljc


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Peg
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 03:17 PM

Would someone actually suggest singing "Ca' the Yowes" in an American accent? what would be the point? and how would one do so?


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: BleedingHeart
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 03:51 PM

if the sense of a song is so dependant upon its language that is pointless to sing it otherwise... if a song loses all original meaning in your native dialect, should you sing it?


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 04:05 PM

In my home town, Chicago, you'd have to sing it as "Call All Youse" instead of "Call The Yowes". ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 05:16 PM

G'Day, Bob:

I have the suspicion that we all have odds and ends of dailect from parents and family. At least the odd choice of phrase. My Father called frying pans or skillets (not sure what they're called in Australia) Spiders. Spiders were cast iron frying pans with legs, so that you could sit them over the coals in the fireplace. He also used to say "dasn't" which meant "can not." That's downright Shakespearean. We all have a little accent "creep in." I grew up in Wisconsin, but out of my love for southern traditional folk, black blues, black gospel and rhythm and blues, I've picked up some characteristics of that music, with out ever consciously meaning to. I had a guy come up to me who said that he was an expert on accents, and he could tell what state I came from. He figured it was the south, and guessed Virginia, brimming with confidence. When I told him I was from Wisconsin, he refused to believe it at first, and then made a quick exit when he realized he was wrong. Like in all things, what we love transforms us. Whether it's God, rhythm and blues or pizza (pizza makes you rounder.) I don't think that you can go a lifetime loving music without it at least subtly change you accent (and how you see things.)


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 05:21 PM

Scabby Doug: In the years when I was going to Lutheran Church... my family heritage, I always got the creeps when the choir would do gospel songs. They always sounded like an out-take from a Disney soundtrack, for starters. Even if they didn't try to copy old transcriptions of words, they enunciated the words so precisely, that the song lost any resemblance to what it must have once sounded like. Live Pavarati )sp?) trying to do You Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog. Sometimes, get all the words right, but miss the song completely. And, choirs don't bend notes, or slut words. It's against their principles. Maybe all of this is all right. In the long run, it's not the most terrible thing I've ever heard. Just loses all flavor. Like Chum Gum, back in the 40's.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 05:23 PM

Little John:

You're not from Weehawken.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: 8_Pints
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 06:42 PM

I have the same problem with dialect words that everyone is talking about. I sing a version of "Felton Lonnen" which is a Geordie song - mentioning the cows come home (pronounced the kyes come yen!) and I see not me hinnie! I come from Manchester, but don't have a very strong Mancunian accent- I think! I reckon I can just about get away with singing this one, but I wouldn't attempt to sing a whole Scots ballad using an imitation accent, I have to Anglisize, although as previously mentioned, dialect words have to be left in so as not to lose the original poetry. I sang "Bonnie at morn" last year at the Manchester Northumbrian Piper's day and was asked which part of the North East I came from, so my accent must have been passable! - perhaps a general Northern accent is enough to carry this type of song, whereas the big ballads need a different approach.

I grew up thinking I spoke standard English and was amazed when I met Bob (who grew up in Anglesey, North Wales) to find that I used loads of words that he didn't understand :- manky, mithering, skriking, nowty, to mention just a few!

Ah mun stop naw, an brew a mug o tay!

Sue vG


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: little john cameron
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 11:19 AM

Nae flies oan you,eh Jerry!! ljc


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 11:36 AM

Nice to see a post from you again ljc... haven't seen you in a while.

The things is - even for those of us closer to the accent (say Scots for example), the song may be in a dialect we never employed. For example - although i could make a fair fist of the poem ljc posted above - to an extent, I'm being dishonest, because it's not my register, or my dialect. DOes that mean I can only sing songs in Glasgow dialect? I'd hate to think so...

I think that we all have to make our own choices on this.

Cheers

Steven


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: little john cameron
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 01:16 PM

Aye Scabby,as ye know there are many dialects an' variations o' them.For instance whaur ah'm fae,Blantyre,the dialect an' accent are different jist up the road in Larkhall.Mah strange wie o' speakin is a mixture o' Glasgow,where ah worked,Killearn oan the weekend,Larkhall wi' the bikers,Toronto for fower years an noo Newfoundland whit has it's ain variations.That's no' tae mention the years wi' they daft Irishmen when ah wis wi' the Sons o' Erin or as a man thocht we were a Jewish group ca'ed the Sons of Aaron. ljc


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 04:39 PM

Someday someone will have to explain Geordie-ism to this Yank. No, probably not worth it. Still glad, though, that there's one choir left in the world that won't "slut" lyrics. Fascinating concept. No, I'm not making fun of typos, I'm just having a rollicking time with serendipity.

CC


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: PeteBoom
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 05:06 PM

Charlie - Geordies are the lovable folk living along the area most Yanks would think of as the border between Scotland and England - The city of Newcastle Upon Tyne and its environs (Gateshead, etc.,) is an example of same.

(There are other descriptions, but I'm beiing polite.)

Hence, a Geordie-ism is a delightful colloqial expression of language variant spoken by those same lovable folk. As one Scouser I know comments, "Any resemblance between Geordie and English is entirely by chance."

Have a day.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: 8_Pints
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 05:13 PM

I remember seeing a sign in a pub in the Lake District that read "English spoken, but Geordie undastood!"

8 pints


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Bill D
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 06:45 PM

My wife, Ferrara, has a good ear for language and *can* manage a Scots song, or German song... without doing them an injustice. I am not nearly as good, so I limit my attempts to using the minimum necessary words to tell the story, and I don't even attempt ones like LJC posted!!

I can sing "The Twa Corbies"...but she can sing "The 51st Highlander's Farewell to Sicily"


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: GUEST,Born Again Scouser
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 07:54 PM

Amusing thread.

Think I'm with Jerry R. on this one. Maybe it's a bit like acting. How much does the accent have to do with the story or the character? The simple answer would be: depends on the plot and the character. Hamlet or Macbeth can be played in English, American, German, Russian, Afro-Caribbean, Japanese or any other accent. Willy Loman, I think, needs to sound like he's from New York.

Some songs, like some plays, have such a strong sense of place and time that you have to address the language in some way. If you can't then perhaps it's best to walk away from the song (or part). But then there are songs like 'Carrickfergus' which name a specific place but are about universal human emotions (in this case, homesickness). Anyone can relate to them and anyone is entitled to sing them.

On the other hand, I read an article in an Irish magazine a few years ago about the Waterboys which talked, amongst other things, about 'dabbling with identities'. Not a good idea. Wish I still had the article.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 08:10 PM

Fascinating discussion. Somebody should point this one out every time there's another "I hate what the Mudcat has turned into" complaint.

I'm a pretty good mimic, and I love singing "The Lum Hat Wantin' a Croon" in what I hope is pretty close to the Scots accent I heard on the record (National Geographic's Music of Scotland). Now, it's no secret that I'm a Son of Aaron and not a Son of Erin, from Philadelphia and not from Fife, but I have fun doing it, and when I did it on the old HearMe the response was positive, so I don't see any problem at all. Maybe it would be different if somebody were paying to hear me sing, but I think not.

I have to take strong exception to something Malcolm said above: "Singing in a language foreign to you is another matter, of course, and should never be attempted unless you understand that language sufficiently well to conduct a reasonable conversation in it." Sorry, folk police, you're not going to stop me from singing some of my favorite Jacques Brel songs, or "Mayn Rue Platz", or even "Guantanamera"! I would agree that it is good to be respectful of the culture and learn to pronounce the lyrics properly, but I would hate to think I have to pass a test in order to sing a song. And the same would be true for a non-English speaker who wanted to sing a song in English. If they like the song, and if people like hearing them sing the song, why not?

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 08:15 PM

By the way, in case anybody's curious, the "Son of Aaron" line was in response to Little John Cameron's post above, and is not the literal truth: despite my last name, I'm not a Kohen.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 09:04 PM

Singing a song in a language which is foreign to you, and which you do not understand, depends very much on the context in which you do it; done "for a laugh" in an informal situation, I'm sure it's harmless enough.  Done professionally or semi-professionally in front of an audience in a relatively formal situation, you certainly risk giving offence or making yourself look stupid.  Each to his or her own; I am comfortable singing in French, because I know what I'm doing, whereas I do not sing in Gaelic, however much I might like to, because I know very well that I could not do it properly.

I believe that it's all about showing proper respect to a tradition which is not your own.  If that makes me a "folk policeman", then so be it; my own feeling -and these things are always subjective- is that it simply reflects an awareness that music is not necessarily "common property", to which people can do whatever they like without always taking the trouble to find out what it means, but that it does have a meaning, and that the kind of instant gratification which so many people demand ("I can't be bothered finding out what this neat-sounding song actually means, so can you tell me how to pronounce it phonetically", etc.) can sometimes result not from a genuine love of music, but from a kind of acquisitiveness akin to cultural imperialism.

And before anybody says, "opera singers do it all the time"; that is exactly what I mean.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: ddw
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 09:25 PM

I'm generally against somebody trying to fake and accent or dialect, but there are instances when it's necessary —— particularly in old blues tunes to make the rhyme scheme work.

I ran into one recently that just jumped out at me. There's a Blind Boy Fuller song (also done by Rev. Gary Davis) called "Mama, Let Me Lay It On You" that has the lines:
I'll buy you a Cadillac car
So you can ride tomar'

I picked up a copy of John Cephus & Phil Wiggins covering the song and John sings:
I'll buy you a Cadillac car
So you can ride to-mo-rrow

and it sounds really weird.

All that said, I still don't like to hear gratuitous use of "dese" and "dat" and "ribba" in singing a lot of the fine old songs that were written that way for use in blackface Vaudeville. Most can be sung straight and still hold up.

david


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: John P
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 11:00 PM

Malcolm, do you really think anyone who sings folk songs, even (or especially) folk songs from other countries, is doing it for any reason other than a love of music? Wouldn't it be a lot of bother to learn to play and sing music if you weren't actually into it?

I know a lot of people who do songs from a lot of different places. I do so myself, and have in the past been accused of "cultural plundering", whatever that means. But I don't know anyone who learns traditional music for any reason other than a deep love of traditional music. For me, showing respect for a song involves bringing my best skills to it, finding something interesting to do with it in the hopes that others will like it as well, and performing it with passion and integrity. I am much more a musician than a historian, and certainly don't see learning the history and cultural context of a song as being a necessary part of traditional musicianship. I often, but not always, do quite a bit of research about the songs, but I do this because I find it interesting, not because I want to learn whether or not I "should" do the song, or how I should do it, or what instruments I should play it on, or anything having to do with my treatment of the song.

I also freely adapt songs whenever I feel like it, changing the mode, "fixing" the melody, cleaning up the scansion, etc. The music remains tradtional music.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 09 Oct 01 - 11:19 PM

I understand your point, Malcolm, and I agree to a certain extent. It sets my teeth on edge when somebody butchers a song in a foreign language. (It also sets my teeth on edge when somebody butchers a song in his or her native language!) Where I suppose we may continue to disagree is that while I support your right to disapprove, I also support a person's right to sing what he or she wants. If enough people don't like it, the performer will usually get the message, one way or another.

Contrary to what you implied, I believe that traditional music IS common property, and no one has the right to tell anyone how they should or should not enjoy it. Ascribing motives to another person can be tricky: what you feel is a sign of "instant gratification" or "cultural acquisitiveness" might just be simple ignorance, or enthusiasm. (And I believe you did acknowledge that, by using the word "sometimes".) I just get uncomfortable when "I don't like it when you do that" becomes "You should not be allowed to do that." OK, enough soapboxing for me.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Oct 01 - 12:03 AM

I'm trying to make a distinction here between what we do in relative privacy and what we do in the public eye, so to speak, where our actions may influence others.

There is a big difference between the kind of love that respects the loved object and allows it to retain its natural character and identity, and the kind that desires to possess that object, moulding it into something different which suits us and our personal feelings about how it ought to be; this is to interpret the world -and, most particularly, that part of the world to which we do not ourselves belong, and which does not belong to us- purely in terms of ourselves.   I can't help but feel that this kind of solipsism risks destroying the object of love, if it be truly love, rather than mere desire; perhaps sometimes it is best just to look, or listen, and leave well alone.

I'm not suggesting that this is always the case; to an extent, in discussions of this kind, I find myself acting as Devil's Advocate more often than I would like, because I do believe that these things need to be said, and thought about seriously.   I certainly haven't suggested that there should be "prescribed" ways of singing a song, of playing a tune, or of what instruments should or should not be used.  I have said, though, that respect for material from traditions that are not our own demands that, if we wish to use such material, we do it with at least a degree of understanding.  If you change music from somebody else's tradition, outside that tradition, then it is, by definition, no longer traditional; however much you might like it to be.

If you change it with a genuine understanding of its nature and function, then it may well gain a new life in that new form; you may, equally, be able to transform it into something which may find its way into whatever tradition you yourself belong to.  I haven't said that it can't be done; maybe you can do it.  Some people certainly can; many, I fear, are simply not prepared to make the effort to understand what they are dealing with before they start tinkering with it.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Peg
Date: 10 Oct 01 - 12:39 AM

gotta agree with Mark here; the world would be a lesser place is this Yank did not sing songs of the Celtic countries...


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 10 Oct 01 - 02:15 AM

Nobody, as far as I can see, has mentioned my pet hate; the gawdawful [Americanism!!!] spectacle of a "trained" operatic singer murdering ---in pefectly blissful ignorance---a traditional ballad. It is particularly painful for me when it happens to be a Scots folk-song being attempted by a SCOT whose musical talent has been focussed along the operatic route. Some, to give credit, actually learned to lay their "training" aside and make a good shape at it---Ken McKellar is a case in point; he never could handle a any breadth of Scottish folksinging till he had the experience of sharing a series with Jean Redpath and Alistair Mac Donald. He suddenly realised that there was more to Burns and all Scottish folk music than "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose" and "Annie Laurie".

Just for the record, and as part of the thread as begun, the finest rendition of Robert Burns' "Bonnie Doon" I have ever heard was performed by Sean Cannon--as Irish as the poteen in Connemara.

There's a muckle brough roon the muin the nicht---an ye ken the spiel aboot a brough roond the muin;'a afaur brough's a near stoarm, a near brough's a faur stoarm. Nae mony yowes i' the brae-face the morn; they'll a' be coorit doon i' the biel o' the knowe. I know fine weel that some among us will understand perfectly.....


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Melani
Date: 10 Oct 01 - 12:26 PM

Well, gee, Boab, I think you're saying something about a ring around the moon portending a storm, and the sheep huddling down in a protected area. But I wouldn't attempt to pronounce any of it. No matter how beautiful a song might be, I personally would not attempt THAT degree of dialect. A word or two thrown into mostly English I can manage. But there are a lot of songs in straight English that I wouldn't attempt, just because they don't seem to "fit" me. I sing a lot of chanteys that were originally sung only by men, and I have found that I have an instinctive feeling about whether a certain song will work for me. If it doesn't feel right, I wouldn't attempt to sing it. I have heard songs that don't "fit" me sung very well by another woman, so I guess it's just really personal.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Mrrzy
Date: 10 Oct 01 - 12:53 PM

In my case, I have no choice - I have one of those tape-recorder sets of ears and can only sing songs the way the singer I learned them from sang them. I also have a French accent in German because my teacher did... so I sing most of my songs with a brogue, and a few with a burr, and some like other ethnicities, but at least since I have the chameleon linguist ability, if the model has an authentic accent, so do I. I couldn't sing an Irish ballad in my normal American accent if you paid me.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 02:40 AM

Ah---there you go,Melani [as McCloud the New York cowboy polisman was wont to say--] --funny thing, my favourite shanty/sea song is "The Alabama". A belter, as they say in auld Scotland.


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 07:12 AM

Yeah! I came to this late but accenting or dialecting (?) a song is (or should be) like acting. While I write this I am listening to Mike Seeger singing and playing (playing!) in "dialect". He is recreating a specific recording by a specific person and playing a specific instrument in a specific style. I value such a performance because it allows me to know a song in it's original context. As for being entertainment... I don't know. I find it more scholarly in a way. I play stuff and sing stuff as best as I can manage from what I hear. I can't read music, the conflict between the left brain linearity of the notation clashes with the right brain sense of the art in the lyrics, music, and instrumentation. (huh?) anyway I have always been able to (can't avoid it) slip in and out of regional dialect to such a degree that when I speak French I am sometimes taken for an Italian, not a Yank! I have always been concerned that this would mark me as a "phoney" or something but so far no one has ever commentd on it to me. Doncha love these threads!


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: John P
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 08:52 AM

Malcolm, you make some very good points. I don't agree with them, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong about them. But we have drifted away from the original purview of this thread, or rather we have generalized outward from one aspect of it. Perhaps we ought to get into sometime on a thread specifically devoted to the question of whether or not traditional music retains its traditional nature when played outside of the tradition that spawned it.

As for the dialect question, I really don't care whether or not someone is singing with their own accent, or with an assumed one. All I really care about is if they are doing a good performance. I generally dislike country & western music, but if I hear someone really putting their soul into a song, and playing with skill and integrity, I will sit and listen with rapture. The vitality of the music is what's important. The rest is little stuff, not to be sweated over.

John Peekstok


P.S. Mzzry, you sound like an accent waiting to happen . . .


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: little john cameron
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 09:37 AM

Ah man went intae a bakers shop ane day an' said"Is that a cake or a meringue in yer windae?"The baker replied"Naw, ye're richt,it's a cake!" ljc


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 09:48 AM

ljc: one of my all-time favourite jokes!

Well done

Cheers

Steven


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Subject: RE: Singing In Dialect
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 Apr 11 - 12:37 AM

There's a Jamaican dialect version of "Banana Boat Song" titled "Day Dah Light" or "Day De Light". If I was singing that publicly (in, say, a school assembly, because my classmate invited me to perform onstage). I'd try to sing it as close to the original as possible.(That's mostly because I have a knack for picking up people's accents after a while).


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