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Is that really you?

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Tunesmith 14 Jun 03 - 06:25 PM
Amergin 14 Jun 03 - 06:29 PM
Giac 14 Jun 03 - 07:27 PM
Pat Cooksey 14 Jun 03 - 07:34 PM
Steve Parkes 16 Jun 03 - 11:40 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 16 Jun 03 - 11:46 AM
katlaughing 16 Jun 03 - 12:09 PM
Allan C. 16 Jun 03 - 12:10 PM
Schantieman 16 Jun 03 - 12:15 PM
Mark Clark 16 Jun 03 - 12:46 PM
Amos 16 Jun 03 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,Les B. 16 Jun 03 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Dale 16 Jun 03 - 02:46 PM
Uncle_DaveO 16 Jun 03 - 03:13 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 16 Jun 03 - 03:21 PM
TheBigPinkLad 16 Jun 03 - 03:54 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 16 Jun 03 - 05:03 PM
SINSULL 16 Jun 03 - 06:09 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Jun 03 - 06:52 PM
Desert Dancer 17 Jun 03 - 01:14 AM
Steve Parkes 17 Jun 03 - 03:12 AM
Gurney 17 Jun 03 - 03:44 AM
Fred Miller 17 Jun 03 - 08:43 AM
Frankham 17 Jun 03 - 11:20 AM
Maryrrf 17 Jun 03 - 11:41 AM
Amos 17 Jun 03 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 17 Jun 03 - 02:11 PM
Ely 17 Jun 03 - 05:48 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Jun 03 - 06:11 PM
Grab 17 Jun 03 - 07:12 PM
LadyJean 18 Jun 03 - 12:03 AM
Gloredhel 18 Jun 03 - 01:54 AM
George Papavgeris 18 Jun 03 - 04:40 AM
Dave the Gnome 18 Jun 03 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,Vince 18 Jun 03 - 08:28 AM
JJ 18 Jun 03 - 08:45 AM
Frankham 18 Jun 03 - 04:48 PM
annamill 18 Jun 03 - 05:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Jun 03 - 06:14 PM
Rapparee 18 Jun 03 - 06:41 PM
Gurney 19 Jun 03 - 05:26 AM
JulieF 19 Jun 03 - 07:56 AM
Steve Parkes 19 Jun 03 - 08:14 AM
JJ 19 Jun 03 - 08:39 AM
Amos 19 Jun 03 - 09:02 AM
Steve Parkes 19 Jun 03 - 09:40 AM
Amos 19 Jun 03 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,Philippa 19 Jun 03 - 11:36 AM
Willie-O 19 Jun 03 - 02:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Jun 03 - 02:06 PM
Rapparee 19 Jun 03 - 10:49 PM
Mark Cohen 20 Jun 03 - 05:53 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 20 Jun 03 - 07:25 AM
Alice 20 Jun 03 - 11:58 AM
Fred Miller 20 Jun 03 - 08:04 PM
Liz the Squeak 21 Jun 03 - 02:19 AM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Jun 03 - 06:00 PM
Frankham 21 Jun 03 - 06:21 PM
Liz the Squeak 21 Jun 03 - 06:40 PM
PoppaGator 22 Jun 03 - 12:34 AM
Fred Miller 22 Jun 03 - 04:04 PM
PoppaGator 23 Jun 03 - 05:16 PM
Fred Miller 23 Jun 03 - 07:02 PM
Gurney 24 Jun 03 - 06:00 AM
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Subject: Is that really you?
From: Tunesmith
Date: 14 Jun 03 - 06:25 PM

I believe that when a person sings their singing voice should be an obvious extention of their speaking voice, and that it should be possible to recognise the area where a singer comes from by simply hearing them sing. This is important to me - but clearly not to many listeners; for example, is it possible to tell from Hank Williams' singing that he comes from Alabama? - or at least that part of the world. Or could he be mistaken for a New Yorker or someone from Dakota? Likewise, does Bruce Springsteen sing with a New Jersey accent ( is there such a thing as a New Jersey accent? )
Frank ( UK)


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Amergin
Date: 14 Jun 03 - 06:29 PM

yeah it's really me....


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Giac
Date: 14 Jun 03 - 07:27 PM

Lordy, I can't think of anyone who would think old Hank was from New York!

It's easier for those familiar with United States accents to discern locale from hearing a voice, as I'm sure it's far easier for someone from Great Britain to recognize region from accents there. I would think this applies to long-time residents of most countries, or regions.

But, I think many singers use the pronunciations that they hear, so that songs they learn may have the feel of the accent of those from whom they learn.

Perhaps it tends to homogenize languages a bit, but at least the songs are carried on.

Mary


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Pat Cooksey
Date: 14 Jun 03 - 07:34 PM

No Idea.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 11:40 AM

Your brain has different pathways for speech and song, which is why stammerers and some stroke sufferers can sing fluently even though they can't speak fluently. There's no guarantee that your "natural" singing voice should sound like your "natural" speaking voice: it probably depends on a lot of things like when/where/what you first learned to sing. I noticed years ago (and I've got about fifty to choose from!) that most of us kids -- who spoke in strong English regional accents -- would sing (a) in American accents and (b) without dropping Hs and Gs. Don't ask me why -- there was always plenty of British popular and light music to rival the US musicals and pop songs.

I remember the sense of dislocation hearing the Beatles sing "the barber shaves another coostomer" ...

Steve

Steve


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 11:46 AM

Regional accents are a dying breed, at least in the US where so many people move around so much in their lives. There certainly is a NJ accent, and a Boston, Chicago, Michigan, Alabama, etc. I never developed much of an accent, but those who know me say I sound like the New Englander that I am. But when I'm singing I tend to "purify" the vowels as i was taught classically. My vocal tone isn't classical at all any more, but there's no regionalism in my singing voice.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 12:09 PM

Likewise I've noticed for years that it seems a lot of singers frm the UK "lose" their accent when they sing. Not all, mind you, but some.

But, like Giac, old Hank sounds pure Southern to me!:-)


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Allan C.
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 12:10 PM

I can sum up my sense of this by saying nothing more than: Jim Neighbors.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Schantieman
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 12:15 PM

A lot of singers (here in England) put on a fake N. American accent when they sing. Seems to happen all the time with pop songs.

Why?

S


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 12:46 PM

This is a question I often think about. I don't come up with any definitive answer, I just think about it. <g> It depends partly on one's chosen idiom and the effect one is trying to achieve.

An operatic vocalist, for instance, works very hard to produce a full classical vocal tone that is radically different from his speaking voice. Does that invalidate opera? In fact any singer trying to stay within a learned form will emulate the sounds associated with that form. The archaic form of unaccompanied ballad singing found in the Southern Appalachians isn't done in the singer's speaking voice but in a highly stylized and carefully practiced mode and tone. Word pronunciation may be regional but the voice used in singing doesn't seem to be an extenstion of the speaking voice.

Here in the U.S. it's common to hear people trying to emulate an Irish accent when performing Irish songs, an English accent for music hall tunes and a Southern Black accent when performing a traditional blues number. Sometimes the same singer may attempt all three. The singer isn't trying to present himself as a native of any of those cultures, he's merely trying to show respect for the song and for his source. If he cares deeply about the heritage of the song, he may feel the song won't sound right if it doesn't included the tonal feel of the original.

Pete Seeger is an example of a successful singer who always presents his music using a songful extension of his speaking voice. Pete's voice is immediately recognizable by anyone even slightly familiar with his work. Pete works to make each song his own; he always gives credit to the source but when he presents the song, it's clearly his own. Pete's brother Mike, on the other hand, most often presents traditional material in a vocal and instrumental setting as close to the source as he can get. His singing is often rather far from his speaking voice. Both of these wonderful musicians maintain the integrity of the music and both of them teach the rest of us about the possibilities in a song and transmit their deep respect for the music and its origin.

When I'm singing a Wobbly song, a cowboy song or a traditional song that through usage has lost any regional identity I'll use an extension of my speaking voice. If I'm singing a blues, I'll try to make it sound funkier but it's still my natural voice, there's no way I could come off sounding like a black man so I don't try. When I'm singing bluegrass I tend to sing in a style that one associates with traditional bluegrass, not an extension of my speaking voice. I feel that the bluegrass sound depends as much on the vocal style as on the instrumental styles. If the vocals don't sound like bluegrass the parts don't fit together to make a cohesive whole to my ear.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 12:46 PM

Bob Dylan does not sing with a Minnesotan accent, ya, sure. He sounds like he copied an urbanized Okie. Oh....yeah!! He did!!

A


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 01:40 PM

I've mentioned this in another thread, somewhere, but there is apparently a requirement if you record in Nashville that you have a certain twang in your voice.

A young man I know who left Montana and went to Nashville to write songs for a song factory for a couple of years and also recorded some demos there. When he came back here he did a few club gigs. He used a twangy accent when he sang, but still talked "northwestern". When I asked him about it, he said they wouldn't let him record down there unless he had that sound.

Another northwestern band went to Nashville to try and make it big about twenty years ago. I was told they replaced the bass player's vocals with a studio musician's because he (bass player) couldn't get the twang right.

So, yes, there are regional accents used and not used, depending on what the money mens' wishes are !!


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 02:46 PM

We discussed this a bit in another thread, but here is a condensation. Most country singers in Australia work very hard at "losing" their accent so as to sound more like their counterparts in the U.S. This is so much so that singers like John Williamson, and more recently, Sara Storer make news because they DO sing with their natural Australian accents.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 03:13 PM

Unless you were a philologist--and maybe not then--you would never think that Ramblin' Jack Elliott was from Brookly.   (Or was it the Bronx?) And I think that goes whether singing or talking.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 03:21 PM

Guest, Dale's "Australian" view interests me. I have a feeling that certain singers from the British Isles would have had more success if they had sung in their own accent. Paul Brady is a case in point. He was "the god " of Irish folk music but when he moved into rock he adopted a Mark Knofpler/Bob Dylan "phoney" voice. Big mistake. I'm convinced that Paul would now be a superstar had he retained his very dictinctive Irish accent. Yes, I know on some of his more " folky " numbers the " Irish" voice appears, but it should have been used for everything. Here's a thought to leave you with. I live near Liverpool (UK), but I can't think of a recording by a singer from Liverpool where the vocal sounds distinctively working-class Liverpool.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 03:54 PM

I think Mark Knopfler just sings in a 'posh' Geordie accent, nothing phoney about it. He talks very much like he sings. I don't like to have to fight an accent to understand lyrics but I enjoy the occasional dialectic betrayal. One of my faves is Sting on the Police song Message in a Bottle: "A year has passed since I wrote my note"


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 05:03 PM

That's the trouble, as soon as people know where an singer comes from, they start hearing that accent, right. Stevie Winwood sings with a Birmingham accent, right. Annie Lennox sings with a Scottish accent, right. And Mark Knofpler! Surely, most of the time he's doing a bad Dylan impersonation! And Elton John is a disgrace! I want to burst out laughing everytime he sings another " phoney" note!! It's nearly 40 years since rock music hit Britain, surely it's time we found our own voice!!

p.s. Sting is the biggest phoney of all - and if you can't that, then there's no hope for you!

p.p.s PREDICTION - in a few years there will be a movement among young British singers to reject any American vocal mannerisms and, in the light of that new dawn, all that went before will be reappraised - and reputations will crumble!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: SINSULL
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 06:09 PM

There is a definite NJ accent. Pbadadas for potatoes is classic.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Jun 03 - 06:52 PM

I always remember that, anytime my father spoke on a telephone, his Irish accent would get a lot stronger. I think the same happens with some people when they sing. It's not that they put on the accent, it's that they stop repressing it, and sing in their real voice.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 17 Jun 03 - 01:14 AM

Depends of which part of New Jersey yer talkin' about -- NY metro area, Philly-influenced, Pine Barrens...

~ Becky in Tucson
Originally from the Garden State, a small but diverse place


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 17 Jun 03 - 03:12 AM

I've thought about the British-American singing voice a lot over the years, and I think I have a part-explanation: the slight drawl comes from relaxing the voice and allowing the words to flow more than in speech. Most of the US accent comes from the English West Country accents spoken by the early settlers, but the drawl is also a significant part of it, making speech (and song) sound more American ten English (unless, I presume, you come from the West Country).

Steve


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Gurney
Date: 17 Jun 03 - 03:44 AM

I think a lot of singers have several accents that they can take a fair stab at. I remember a Lulu interview in which she was asked about her optional Scots accent, and she said "I've an ear -well, obviously!...."
Have you ever seen a bunch of English traddies stick a beer-mat to the side of their head, hold their thumb, and sing like the late Fred Wedlock? "Theeere wurr three myen, caame oowt of the west.."
You have to be there, and be one of them.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Fred Miller
Date: 17 Jun 03 - 08:43 AM

I've never had much of the accent from western Ky, near Nashville, where I grew up, and my brother used to ridicule me for saying things like "oil" instead of the proper "ole". There's not much I plan to do about it.

   Some singers will do imitations of not just accents but the vocal mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of famous voices, and it's often remarkably deadening, and unmusical to me. I think it's hard to find one's voice, both figuratively and actually, but I don't have any hard fast rule about what somebody might do convincingly. I've met people who were sure that Lucinda Williams was "probably" from New York, but sang southern for effect.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Frankham
Date: 17 Jun 03 - 11:20 AM

There are those who are good mimics. Frank Warner, the veteran folklorist, put out an album in which he perfectly mimiced the people he had learned songs from.

Where it gets weird for me is when I hear young white kids forcing their voices trying to sound black.

How much of an actor do you have to be to sing folk songs?

Pete Seeger is from New England. He sometimes speaks to my ear like Katherine Hepburn (which is OK by me). When he interprets Appalachia, you know that he really isn't coming from there but if you are a Pet fan (I am) does it matter? Same goes for when Pete sings a blues.

Burl Ives was trained by a Metropolitan vocal coach to sing Schuber Lieder. Did anyone care when he sang folk song concerts?

Josh White sang in a voice more suited to gospel music than to blues. He was not a shouter though. Early Belefonte listened to Josh. (Check out Mark Twain). Did Belefonte really sound like a Calypso singer?

In any of these cases, did the public care?

It might be that one person's view of an "honest voice" may differ from another's. Maybe it goes beyond "voice" to an attitude?

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 17 Jun 03 - 11:41 AM

I like Dick Gaughan's singing even though it sometimes takes me a lot of time to decipher his strong Scots accent. Ditto Ian Benzie (ex lead singer of OBD).


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Amos
Date: 17 Jun 03 - 12:33 PM

I think Frank's on the beam with this one. The sum total of the delivery -- attitude, emotional punch, intonation, timing, technical bits -- makes the impact of a song happen. To me, it doesn't matter if the "accent" is or is not consistent with some locale attributed to the singer. The delivery in the present is either true or it isn't.

A


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 17 Jun 03 - 02:11 PM

Of course Americans are bound to have a different perspective on this accent thing. The use of pseudo American accents is endemic in British Pop/Rock. Here's some examples of how much!!! In the British Pop Idols show, Pete Waterman, one of the judges, criticised - almost ridiculed -one contestants for singing in a Jamaican accent BUT he didn't once critise any singer for singing with an American accent. Why? Because it's the norm. In another talent show, Fame Academy, contestants were given access to a voice coach, and the eventually winner, David Seddon, was told quite clearly, by the coach, to totally suppress his Scottish accent. Now, that isn't healthy!!


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Ely
Date: 17 Jun 03 - 05:48 PM

For years, I was certain that the Irish Rovers were faking. Oh, well.

Personally, I'd rather everybody just used their own accents. Well, most of the time--I can't picture something like "Danny Boy" sung with an East Texas accent. But, as far as I'm concerned, if you identify with a song that well, how you talk/sing won't matter.

I'm sure there are accent prejudices in Europe as well as in the US. My mother worked really hard to lose her Southern New Jersey accent, which got her teased in college and was a sore point when she started dating my dad, who comes from a family of upwardly-mobile, conspicuously accent-less midwesterners (the rest of her family still sound like B-movie gangsters). I don't have much of a natural accent and I'm a *terrible* mimic; I wouldn't think of intentionally trying to adopt an accent for fear I might offend somebody ;).


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Jun 03 - 06:11 PM

I suppose the reason people tend to assume that all kinds of songs are Irish when in fact they are fairly recent arrivals - "The Wild Rover", "Fiddlers Green", "I live not where I love", just for a start - is because Irish singers tend not to put on a foreign accent to sing them (leave aside the Boy Bands and that end of the business).

Get someone annoyed, that's another way to learn what their natural accent is.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Grab
Date: 17 Jun 03 - 07:12 PM

"Preserving your accent" is all very well and laudable, but it doesn't necessarily sound good.

Coming from Lancashire, there are certain vowels and phrasings which make it difficult to get a good quality of voice when singing - the classic example is that the Lancashire phrasing has the sentence trail off at the end, so the last word or so is just mumbled, and this does *not* lead to good singing. As far as the Scottish accent goes, it can sound good, but equally it can sound dreadful (think Proclaimers doing "500 miles").

Suiting the accent to the song can also be essential to make the song work. Some songs assume rhymes on words which simply don't exist in certain accents - Scottish folk-songs for example would be impossible to sing in English "received pronunciation".

Also, please note that English folk music is as much guilty of this as any other form of music. The number of ppl singing like the Watersons is uncanny, and this is surely because that's the accent people expect to hear.

Graham.

PS. Mark Knopfler has never imitated Dylan. MK tends to almost "spoken-word", but doesn't shout; since he is almost talking rather than singing, his singing accent is the same as his talking accent. No affectation.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: LadyJean
Date: 18 Jun 03 - 12:03 AM

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. I talk like a propah Bahstonian, thanks to my mothah who went to college in Massachusetts. I'd sound pretty damn silly if I sang one of Robert Burns songs like a propah Bahstonian. While the Pittsburgh dialect contains a number of Scottish words, (Redd up for clean up, neb for a nosey person.) I'd sound even sillier singing "Aye Fond Kiss And Then We Sever" with a Pittsburgh accent.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Gloredhel
Date: 18 Jun 03 - 01:54 AM

Some people say that those of us in the Western United States all have the same accent. This is not true. Just ask my dear friends at Gon-ZAHG-ah, Gon-ZAG-a, Gon-ZAGE-a, GON-ZAG-uh University, or however you pronounce it. I'm from California, and though my classical singing teacher (from upstate New York) tried for years to get rid of my "California vowels," they still rear their heads from time to time.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 18 Jun 03 - 04:40 AM

What chance have I got - my Salonika accent must be blatantly obvious to everyone who hears me! OK, that was tongue-in-cheek, but the fact is that there's more to a singing voice than just accent. When you hear Charles Has-no-voice, Sacha Distel or Edith Piaf you can tell that they are French not just from the accent, but even more so from the manner of singing. That is because there are regional "singing mannerisms". Incidentally, I recognised some of the French mannerisms in the singing of the McGarrickle sisters, no doubt some New Orleans throwback.

My own singing mannerisms have caused people to enquire whether I was from Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, or Turkey (there is a lot of musical crossover there), yet I'd like to think that Hi don't HHave a Greak Haccent when Hi Spick! Which goes to show that you can tone down the accent, but your regional habits will find a way to betray you. Like Aussie country singers being betrayed by the occasional vowel, no matter how hard they try.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 Jun 03 - 06:46 AM

and sing like the late Fred Wedlock

I certainly hope not late! We have him booked for our festival in October and when we spoke to him a couple of weeks ago he didn't give any indication of iminent demise...

On the subject of the Proclaimers I always thought that their accents were great but as a Lancastrian I did not know how good/bad they were. My (genuinely!) late friend Adam, a born and bred Glaswegian, couldn't stand the accencts and reckoned they were put on!

Just shows it is all a metter or perception.

Cheers

Dave the Gnone


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: GUEST,Vince
Date: 18 Jun 03 - 08:28 AM

Speaking of Lancashire, lots of songs from up 'ere, paricularly if you're from 'up yon' (Oldham - 'Owdum')would'nt sound as good if not sang (sung?) in the local dialect or as they would be spoken. The Oldham Tinkers, great interpreters of local dialect song and verse, would sound a bit strange if they sang 'Owdum Edge' or 'a mon like thee' using queen's english. Some of Vin Garbutt's and Bob Fox's songs and interpretations sound particularly good cos of their North Eastern accents but if i was singing one of their songs i would'nt dare try and imitate their accents or dialect cos i'm not that good enough. Some people are good enough, so why not? Some songs are adaptable, some are'nt, like music in general - variation on theme etc.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: JJ
Date: 18 Jun 03 - 08:45 AM

Hey LadyJean, Hahz abaht dem Stillers? Yunz gun dahntahn?

I recall Myron Cope, King of the Pittsburgh Dialect, singing a parody of "Achy Breaky Heart" one year. It might not have been folk, but it sure was Pittsburgh.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Frankham
Date: 18 Jun 03 - 04:48 PM

Is it possible for a musical style to pull you into adopting an accent? I think this happens when singing Irish songs.

Blues or country seem to do the same. R's tend to get dropped in words like "door" ("doh") or G's get dropped in "country."

Also affecting how rhymed words occur in a song such as "Rain-again (gayne) and "When-again (gen).

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: annamill
Date: 18 Jun 03 - 05:04 PM

Allan, Jim Neighbors was my second thought First was Cindy Lauper. I love her songs and her voice, but I can't believe its the same person when she talks!

Nyah, I don't say Pbadadas!

Love, Annamill


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Jun 03 - 06:14 PM

When someone really puts a song across well, you don't pay that much attention to the accent.

El Greko is quite right about it being other aspects such as timing and style of singing that are every bit as important in defining a song as belonging top as particular national tradition.

But good songs can change their nationalities like chameleons can change colour.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Rapparee
Date: 18 Jun 03 - 06:41 PM

Try "Haow naow, yu sekrit blak an midniht hahgs" which my brother claims is from the East Texas production of "Macbeth."

Personally, I don't care how a person sings as long as they a) do a musically competent job of it, and b) try their best to imitate an accent accurately and without mockery (unless the mockery is part of the song).

Would I try to sing (in public) something like "If ye hae been where I hae been/Ye would na then...etc." I'd only do it if I was dead certain I could do it correctly. Singing it in private, well, that's another matter entirely.

Is it somehow wrong to sing a song phonetically? Say, something in Gaelic when you don't speak it?

As for regional accents, well, yes, they are declining. But they are hardly lost. Even my untrained ear can tell a Northern from Southern Ireland accents, a Canadian one from the American Middle Western, or Geordie from Cockney. It's them Aussies, though....   8-)


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Gurney
Date: 19 Jun 03 - 05:26 AM

El Greco mentioned Edith Piaf. That woman inspired about two generations of ladies with delicious french accents to sound like bloody sheep! Never could work out why.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: JulieF
Date: 19 Jun 03 - 07:56 AM

I find that I always sing in my accent (scottish). It is one of the main things that decides what songs I sing as I have no talent for mimicry at all.   I sometime wonder if its because I am not really a performer but just someone who sings. Perhaps it is something that may change when I get more experienced and extend my range.

Julie


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 19 Jun 03 - 08:14 AM

Strange, isn't it? Piaf, Gracie Fields, Astrid Gilberto: all crap singers, yet they had/have a great following. In AG's case, she has a really sex voice (and a husband who's a top sax player, which must help); the other two must have had enormous stage presence to get away with it. Nancy Sinatra didn't even have that ... but then she didn't need it, did she? I wonder what she sounds like when she's not singing? It must be an improvement...!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: JJ
Date: 19 Jun 03 - 08:39 AM

That's Jim NABORS. :-)

I heard something about a re-release of his studio cast recording of MAN OF LA MANCHA on CD. I've never heard this, but I remember blanching when I saw the LP cover back in the 70s: Marilyn Horne is Aldonza; Jack Gilford is Sancho; Richard Tucker is the Padre; Madeline Kahn is the niece.

Can you say, "stunning admixture of styles?"


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Amos
Date: 19 Jun 03 - 09:02 AM

Steve:

PIaf was not a crap singer. Like Dylan she was high on character if lacking in technical precision. Point is, between attitude and heart and accent, she created impact.

A


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 19 Jun 03 - 09:40 AM

Wasn't that what I said, Amos?! I think her ... whatever it was she had ... comes across in her recordings: I have several (though not originals) and they are all great listening. She didn't have a particularly pleasant voice or technique, but when she sings, you listen! I think she was one of the all-time greats.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Amos
Date: 19 Jun 03 - 10:44 AM

Ah, we agree completely, then!! Merci!

A


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 19 Jun 03 - 11:36 AM

note some relevant previous threads, not currently included in the links list at the top of the page:

folklore: singing in dialect (2003)
accents
singing in dialect (2001)


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Willie-O
Date: 19 Jun 03 - 02:00 PM

How do you get an accent in the first place? From hearing it spoken around you. It's not in the soil or the water, and it's not written down, you get it through your ears. These days a lot of people don't spend their entire life, or their entire youth, in one place, so don't have a "pure" accent.

Which leads me to wonder: I grew up in suburbia in central Canada where, in my perception, there is no accent to spoken English. For most of my adult life I have lived in the Ottawa Valley, 1-3 hours from where I grew up, where there is very much a regional accent and phrases. "Saw the young lad over on the next line, eh, he drank a two-four an' put 'er in the ditch agen, eh."
This is obvious to me (and I talk like that with my neighbours, but I can also just turn it off and revert to suburbia-speak when in the city).

So does everyone have that perception--where you're originally from, there's no accent?


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Jun 03 - 02:06 PM

It gets more complicated in England at any rate, because you've got class accents as well as regional accents, and combinations between the two. And on top of that, of course, there are generational and subcultiral accents and ways of talking.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Rapparee
Date: 19 Jun 03 - 10:49 PM

Sometimes, when I return to my town of birth and growth, I can hear the accents there, mostly (but by no means exclusively) among the older folks.

I, myself, have no accent unless I want to use one or have it forced upon my by proximity and time. I doubt that anyone has an accent when they hear themselves talk -- hearing themselves recorded, on the other hand, is a different story because you hear what others hear: without the echoing within your own sinuses, bone conduction, and so on that happens when you talk or sing.

You don't sound like yourself at all!!!


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 20 Jun 03 - 05:53 AM

In 1966 I was a finalist in the National Speling Bee in Washington, D.C. I sat next to a girl who was also from Philadelphia, though her family had moved to Reading, Pa. I remember saying to her, "Do you realize that you and I are the only people in this room who don't have an accent?" Then, when I was a senior in high school, all my hippie friends were saying "man" and "can" without the Philadelphia triphthongs ("mee-ay-in" is a very imperfect way of notating it--a voice teacher once told me that a book she read called Philadelphia vowels the worst of any!) and I thought that was cool, so I did away with most of my Philadelphia acccent. When I sing The Delaware River, though, I repeat the last chorus like a Fullulfya boy.

JJ, your "dahntahn" line reminded me of all the Pittsburgers in my med school class at Hershey! Of course, at Hershey, which is just up Rte. 743 from the Pennsylvania Dutch country of Lancaster County, we'd often hear things like, "Oh, dohctor, it hurts me wunnerful." Don't worry, local American accents are alive and well.

Aloha, Mark

PS 1. I came in 13th out of 71 finalists 2. The word I lost on was "avocet" (that was before the bicycle seat) 3. Yes, it was intentional


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 20 Jun 03 - 07:25 AM

I started this particular thread and now I'm going to play devil's advocate. My original stance was that one should sing in one's own natural voice i.e. use one's own natural accent. BUT, as my brother pointed out, it can be a difficult, self-conscious task to try to sing in one's " natural" voice, which of course, in turn, defeats the object! Where does that leave us?


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Alice
Date: 20 Jun 03 - 11:58 AM

Mark... Speling? Ha ha! ;-)

I'd like to hear an analysis of the Montana accent. I think we may accent the sound of "r" in a unique way.

Alice


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Fred Miller
Date: 20 Jun 03 - 08:04 PM

I think I agree with Frankham and McGrath--it seems that being convincing is the main question, and there's no set formula, creative people find creative ways of being convincing.

It's pretty dumb that people on t.v. talent shows are "supposed" to sing with any particular accent, but then, look at the source. I think that stuff is operating at a sophmoric, conventional level of style in more ways than that--trying to sound like "real" music instead of being actually responsible for making real music. There are lots of really stupid cultural biases about accents, and music marketing just isn't at all immune to them.

    I read recently that attractive female voices, picked out by sound alone, turned out to correspond heavily as belonging to attractive-looking women when picked out by sight alone. Seems really odd, and I don't know what it means.

   One thing that occurred to me about Dylan recently was how well he expresses pride, and how much that helps the reception of his music. When he's rattily strumming a guitar with the high E string out of tune, he doesn't shy off at all. But rather in keeping with the hobo character image he toyed with, it has a touching, compelling effect, like those clean-swept, scrubbed shacks in Walker Evans photos. He put a lot of sheer force of pride behind a rough-hewn sound, and did pretty well selling it. I kinda like it.

   I remember being surprised by pictures on the Waterson's Early Years--I had an impression they were all in their mid-70's to 120's or so, their voices seem so rich with life-experience.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 21 Jun 03 - 02:19 AM

I started singing at age 9, in the local church choir, where there was emphasis on pronunciation. Coming from a locality that had a strong regional accent, and from a family that was particularly strongly accented, I had to learn to pronounce things "properly".

When I started at my secondary school, the local grammar school, the difference was immediate. Whereas at my primary school, everyone spoke more or less like me (except for Christine Benham, but she was a true Romany), at the grammar school, the accents and dialect words were much less obvious. Mine was so strong that I was teased for it, and eventually bullied because of it. To protect myself, I started to speak in my 'church' singing accent and the bullying stopped. (You have to bear in mind that at that time, the class divide mattered more than intelligence when choosing secondary schools. I got in because I passed my 11+ - more than one girl in my form got in because her parents were considerably richer than mine).

In the end, I had two speaking voices, like Tess of the D'Urbervilles - I spoke the Queens' English at school and church, dialect at home.

The speaking voice I have now is very chameleon in nature. When in a strongly accented region, I tend to pick up some of the native accent, a sort of camouflage reaction from my days at school I suppose.

My work mates always know when I've been talking to or visiting old friends or relatives still in Dorset, because I spend the next few days talking with my more native twang, saying 'ur' instead of er, 'yur' instead of here, 'thee' for you, 'gurt' for great and so on.

My sister has developed a strong New Zealand twang, having lived there for nearly 20 years, but she still swears in broad Dorset.

As a result, I 'chameleon' the song I'm singing, although not to the extent that I reproduce the whole accent, I just echo the original - there are several I do that just don't sound right when ennunciated correctly in a neutral accent.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Jun 03 - 06:00 PM

So it's the speaking voice is really the artificial one for you, Liz - do you sometimes find yourself going back to your original accent when singing ?


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Frankham
Date: 21 Jun 03 - 06:21 PM

Hi Steve,

Piaf a crap singer? Well she's not bel canto or Leider but her phrasing and timing (an extremely important aspect of singing) was impeccable. I find her voice pleasant. Same goes for Astrid Giberto who has Brazilian timing and a delicacy that requires a small voice but not a crap voice. If Piaf is a crap-singer (not to be confused with Meistersinger) then that would have to include a whole range of traditional folk singers.

Not too familiar with Gracie Fields.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 21 Jun 03 - 06:40 PM

McGrath - Vaguely, yes... it's become second nature now, but I do notice I put on the consonants a lot more when speaking to certain people... and I drop 'em just as well when speaking to others. The more relaxed I am, the more 'yokel' I get, and yes, occasionally it has strayed into song, although I did 'Linden Lea' in dialect once and Bratling asked me why I sang in that funny voice - she was quite confused when I told her that's how I spoke originally.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 22 Jun 03 - 12:34 AM

I'm from the school that feels that various genres of song call for their own accents -- or, at least, elements of accents. That is, when singing blues, say, or bluegrass, certain vocal inflections -- certain sets of vowel and consonant sounds -- are as much a part of the expected "sound" as are the sounds of slide guitars and banjos, respectively. It certainly does not makes sense to go overboard, embarrasing yourself and others with a parody of someone else's natural speech, or making yourself incomprehensible to the general public, but I think it is proper and even preferable to "pick up" some of the obvious basic elements of the appropriate diction.

Moving on:

You midwesterners (Canadian and American) who think you "don't have an accent" --- puh-leeeze! If for just one time you could stand inside my shoes, you'd know what it's like for me to hear you!

And finally -- a few thoughts on the amazing musician who New Orleans critic & DJ Michael Dominici calls "The Twangilicious Diva"::

People actually think Lucinda Williams "must be from New York," huh? I met her when she was about 17 or 18; I can assure you that she had that same twangy Arkansas accent, and (just like now) she is one artist who sings in the exact same voice in which she speaks.

She lived in New Orleans for quite a few years, starting when her father joined the faculty at Loyola University (where he founded the New Orleans Review, still a thriving academic literary magazine). When her parents divorced, her mother stayed in New Orleans and her father moved on to Univeristy of Arkansas in Fayetteville, way up in the Ozarks. Cindy stayed with her mom through each school year and with her dad for every summer vacation; this went on for a number of years -- I don't know how many -- until she finished high school. Her adoption of that deep-hills Arkansas diction must have developed during those summers with her father; it was probably not an *entirely* consicous decision -- who knows? Nobody else in New Orleans talks like that, but by the time I met her, shortly after she got out of high school, she sure did.

Now, Lucinda's cultural and musical influences are decidedly NOT limited to what you'd pick up in the rural South. She was born in Lake Charles LA and lived in various different large and small Southern towns, but they were all *college* towns, since she was the daughter of a poet who made his living as an English professor. The old man, Miller Williams, was (and I suppose still is) a specialist in beatnik literature, and often sponsored lectures and readings by all the great underground literary figures of 50s-60s America, many of whom often stayed at the Williams' home for a day or two at a time. If you can visualize the pre-teen Lucinda showing her songs and poems to Allen Ginsburg, asking him for advice as they sat in her parents' living room, you can understand why it actually makes sense for someone to think she might be from New York.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Fred Miller
Date: 22 Jun 03 - 04:04 PM

PoppaGator, these people had no idea of her background, never heard of her father, but were simply expressing an idea about music industry images. They didn't really think that she was from NY, just that she was "probably" from there, or somewhere. So it wouldn't matter that some New Orleans actually sounds a bit like some New York, for example. Anyway, she sounds pretty darn good, I think.

Who does know, about these things? I'm not sure there's a true, natural, inherent identity thing at the bottom of the well. It's all affectation, really, but it seems a little silly when people go too far out of their way. Especially when they aren't good at it.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Jun 03 - 05:16 PM

Fred,

I figured the "She must be from NY" reaction might have been prompted by a perception of her attitude, sophistication, cynicism, or whatever -- something about Lucinda that seems inconguous with the down-home Southern aspects of her persona. It would certainly *not* be a logical conclusion based on her extremely country-style diction; of course, the point was apparently that the accent must be fake.

My response, based on first-hand knowledge (albeit from a brief 6-8 month acquaintance over thirty years ago) was to (1) observe that she really does speak with the same diction/accent/whatever that she uses to sing, and (2) her background and upbringing were extremely cosmopolitan and quite atypical of the culture associated with that accent. Incidentally, in addition to the various college towns in which they lived, the family spent an academic year or two on a Fulbright professorship in Santiago, Chile.

I've always loved the story about Ginsberg helping her with her homework.

Even as a teenager, Lucinda was amazingly talented as a writer, singer and fingerpicker. For years, I found it hard to believe that she hadn't yet gained any serious recognition. I knew she was keeping up a continuous effort, and found it baffling that decades went by as she remained "undiscovered." I'm glad to see her finally enjoying a little bit of fame and fortune.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Fred Miller
Date: 23 Jun 03 - 07:02 PM

Me too. I once quit a guitar forum because nobody had heard of her. Made me feel alienated. And I think her father is probably better known now as a poet, in addition to his scholarship.

    My own father was once asked to narrate a film about a Kentucky artist living in Paris. He said he wasn't sure if he was who they wanted, because he had a bit of N. Carolina mountain twang. They said We know, that's why we asked you.


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Subject: RE: Is that really you?
From: Gurney
Date: 24 Jun 03 - 06:00 AM

Sorry, as Dave the Gnome pointed out, Fred Wedlock is still kicking, and I slipped a gear in my brainbox. Fred Jordan, I meant.


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