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Great Singing Techniques

Maryrrf 25 Jun 04 - 11:53 AM
early 25 Jun 04 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,Auldtimer 25 Jun 04 - 07:00 PM
early 25 Jun 04 - 08:05 PM
GUEST,Frankham 26 Jun 04 - 05:21 PM
Ferrara 27 Jun 04 - 02:31 AM
Escamillo 27 Jun 04 - 06:37 AM
Hand-Pulled Boy 27 Jun 04 - 08:22 AM
Bert 27 Jun 04 - 10:16 PM
Maryrrf 28 Jun 04 - 08:47 PM
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Subject: Great (Traditional) Singing Techniques
From: Maryrrf
Date: 25 Jun 04 - 11:53 AM

The thread about Strange Singing Techniques made me start thinking. What are the techniques, characteristics, etc. that distinguish a great traditional singer. I try to listen and learn from many, but for example, when they judge traditional singing competions, what are the judges looking for? I know it's usually a percentage of song selection, voice quality, feeling, etc. But I've heard differing opinions on vibrato vs no vibrato, emotion vs no emotion, etc. Also song selection, would they be looking for a song that was unusual and rare, or one that was hard to sing (so it would show off the voice/technique)?? What about ornamentation? I'm thinking here not so much of gaelic singing, which I think has it's own rules and guidelines, more about traditional English/American/Scots ballad singing.

I realize there are lot's of differing opinions so let's try to keep things civil and polite! Oh and let's not get into what is a traditional vs. revival singer please. I'm meaning people who sing in traditional style - not one of those rare source singers that are unfortunately dying out.


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Subject: RE: Great Singing Techniques
From: early
Date: 25 Jun 04 - 02:50 PM

hi, I was always taught to sing from the heart and only to sing songs which grabbed me, unfortunately this makes me very intolerant of those that either:-
A cant be bothered to learn the song

B sing the song as if reading it from a book without inflection or emotion

C lokk as though they would rather be cleaning up after the dog!

D cant remember the tune or stay on key

As to what judges look for goid knows - i rarely agree with the songwriting competition winners at festivals and when eveyone sings a different song at singing competitions it must pretty difficult to be subjective givenm the possible influence of material choice etc


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Subject: RE: Great Singing Techniques
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 25 Jun 04 - 07:00 PM

Early, you sound like your on my wavelength or do we just have the same chips on our shoulders? Good singing, in a close to Traditional stlye, revolves around three things. Tone. Timeing. Choice of material. The tone of the voice is something which can be worked on and improved but singers must be realistic and accept their limitations. Big money can be spent on top class guitars, fiddles or accordions but singers have to make do with what they have and we can't all sound like June Tabor or Ricky Skaggs. Timeing has to be learned and comes more from the size and shape of the words. Tunes can be streched, bent and mucked about with it's the rythims, patterns and sounds of the words that make a song. Never heard Willie Nelson? Choice of material is always subjective but try to make the songs YOUR OWN and not a carbon coppy of Track 6 from the last CD you were listening too. My list of names as examples of copying too closely would run to at least a dozen and that would only be so called stars of the current British Folk music circut.


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Subject: RE: Great Singing Techniques
From: early
Date: 25 Jun 04 - 08:05 PM

AULDTIMER - YOU'RE SPOT ON WITH THE MAKE THE SONG YOUR OWN THING
not every one can punch out a song or project when singing and some voices tend to grate but as you say choice of material and delivery can allow all who can carry a tune to achieve pleasing results the trick is to know your limits and play to your strengths as i and many othjers do
M


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Subject: RE: Great Singing Techniques
From: GUEST,Frankham
Date: 26 Jun 04 - 05:21 PM

. I think there has to be a certain strength in the breath support and a declamatory voice. I don't think that the aspirate (dare I say it..whining) of the young pop singers fit the style. I think that it is necessary to know about the song, where it came from and why it needs to be sung. There is an urgency in the singing that compels the audience to listen. I think it's not about the voice by itself or perhaps the musicality of the song but more about what the lyrics convey. An emphasis on the art song approach which would be the expression of the composer through using the voice as a musical instrument sometimes making the words subservient is not in the style of the trad singer. This would be true of the jazz singer as well. Frank Sinatra's criticism of Ella Fitzgerald comes to mind. He thought the lyric was subservient to the "scat" singing technique.


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Subject: RE: Great Singing Techniques
From: Ferrara
Date: 27 Jun 04 - 02:31 AM

Maryrrf, you actually asked two questions. One was, "What are the techniques, characteristics, etc. that distinguish a great traditional singer" and one was, "when they judge traditional singing competions, what are the judges looking for?" They may not have the same answer!

Also to some extent the answer depends on whether you talk about "a traditional singer," who sings many kinds of songs, or a singer in a specific tradition.

It's a good question, with a thousand answers. Here are a few of mine.

I guess the first thing is that the person's voice makes me want to listen. What else?

These days I look for people who stay with each and every song; the style and technique, or the desire to show off their singing, never outweigh the song. If they are singing in a given traditional style, I listen to how comfortable they are in that style. I listen to whether their music sounds "plastic" and "media-contaminated," or whether it sounds as if it comes from a deep feeling for the song. I listen for whether they carry the message and keep me involved or whether they lose me halfway through the song.

Energy makes a difference. Some singers have a vitality that affects their listeners, makes you feel more alive when you hear them.

Personally I also like a singer "in the tradition" to sound as if they have listened to traditional singers, i.e. source singers, and absorbed some of their techniques and ways of making music.

Rita F


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Subject: RE: Great Singing Techniques
From: Escamillo
Date: 27 Jun 04 - 06:37 AM

I've never had an audition for pop or traditional singing (only classical) but when I sing traditionals or spirituals or Italian songs, I feel that I can reach the audience by concentrating in the expression, and leave the technique do its job by itself. This means that the technique needs to be learnt up to a point where you don't need to pay attention to it. And of course, study the songs, word by word and note by note. Expression will come only when you know and feel the music very well.

One more comment, do never sing in a tone that's too low for your voice (some singers do this for fear of failing the high notes)

Un abrazo,
Andrés


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Subject: RE: Great Singing Techniques
From: Hand-Pulled Boy
Date: 27 Jun 04 - 08:22 AM

It really does depend on what you are wearing.


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Subject: RE: Great Singing Techniques
From: Bert
Date: 27 Jun 04 - 10:16 PM

Well Early I agree with you on all points except the last (D)which if it were enforced would exclude anyone of limited musical ability from singing.

It takes practice to sing in tune and on key, so if somone is enjoying singing and hits a wrong note now and then or drifts into another tune by mistake then they need support and encouragement to continue and perfect their songs.

How many times have you heard people singing the Navy version of Botany Bay drifting into the tune of The Eton Boat Song?


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Subject: RE: Great Singing Techniques
From: Maryrrf
Date: 28 Jun 04 - 08:47 PM

Good insights. There probably is no real answer to that question since it is so subjective. I might not always be able to say exactly why I like a particular singer - I think it's just a question of whether they connect with the audience or not.

I am curious about how the traditional singing contests are usually judged. I sometimes see in the instructions, for example "Choose two contrasting Scottish songs". Does that mean, for example, a Bothy Ballad and a Border Ballad, an up tempo song and a slow song, a happy song and a fast song?????


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