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Oral vs. written preferences in singing

GUEST,mg 07 Dec 06 - 03:58 PM
JudeL 07 Dec 06 - 04:13 PM
MMario 07 Dec 06 - 04:18 PM
Gervase 07 Dec 06 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,mg 07 Dec 06 - 04:27 PM
GUEST,mg 07 Dec 06 - 04:28 PM
JudeL 07 Dec 06 - 04:30 PM
GUEST,mg 07 Dec 06 - 04:31 PM
Stewart 07 Dec 06 - 05:03 PM
MartinRyan 07 Dec 06 - 05:13 PM
GUEST,mg 07 Dec 06 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,Mark 07 Dec 06 - 05:22 PM
Stewart 07 Dec 06 - 05:44 PM
Joybell 07 Dec 06 - 06:11 PM
greg stephens 07 Dec 06 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,mg 07 Dec 06 - 06:44 PM
dick greenhaus 07 Dec 06 - 09:32 PM
GUEST,pattyClink 08 Dec 06 - 09:38 AM
shepherdlass 08 Dec 06 - 02:10 PM
Bert 08 Dec 06 - 02:20 PM
Leadfingers 08 Dec 06 - 02:38 PM
Effsee 08 Dec 06 - 02:44 PM
Joybell 08 Dec 06 - 03:41 PM
Scoville 08 Dec 06 - 03:53 PM
MuddleC 08 Dec 06 - 03:58 PM
M.Ted 08 Dec 06 - 04:30 PM
Stewart 08 Dec 06 - 05:23 PM
Genie 08 Dec 06 - 06:05 PM
Stewart 08 Dec 06 - 07:03 PM
Genie 08 Dec 06 - 07:46 PM
GUEST,mg 08 Dec 06 - 09:29 PM
Ron Davies 08 Dec 06 - 09:53 PM
Genie 08 Dec 06 - 11:12 PM
Leadfingers 09 Dec 06 - 08:51 AM
Ron Davies 09 Dec 06 - 03:35 PM
Ron Davies 09 Dec 06 - 04:08 PM
shepherdlass 09 Dec 06 - 04:14 PM
Ron Davies 09 Dec 06 - 04:16 PM
Ron Davies 09 Dec 06 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,mg 09 Dec 06 - 06:31 PM
GUEST,Lost the plot 09 Dec 06 - 06:38 PM
Stewart 09 Dec 06 - 08:25 PM
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Subject: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 03:58 PM

The more I think about this, the more I think this is at the root of what some see as the blue book problem, and some see as a great blue book solution to some other problem. I think there are at least two tracks of people, and that we should explore this. There certainly is tons of educational and psychological research on learning styles etc., which at least include auditory, visual and kinesthetic, probably more by now. So people have a preferred style hardwired.

That is why I think the people who like the singing from the blue book, and this is not meant to be a value judgement at all, it is just a personal preference, will probably like them forever. I think we have tended to assume that it was a phase in a process and at the other end they would prefer singing without them, but if they are visually oriented (and I am for most stuff but not music) they will always prefer that style.

Again, please to not see this as an insult or anything. I am not saying one way is better or worse but I will say the music I have heard with the books being used never ever has sounded good to me, or worth going out of my way to see oops hear. That does not seem to be a factor for many people, how the music actually sounds, which perplexes me because that is my chief consideration. I will quantify it..how far would I go if I had a reasonable amount of time and money to do so...to hear very very good music...the answer is around the country, around the world. How far would I go to hear the blue book singing and the answer is literally and truly not across the street unless it was at Beth's house and she served those mint brownies with the green middles.

This way of looking at things fits a lot of data into the hypothesis, that we are looking at divergent populations of people who nominally like the same thing, folk music, but in reality one group likes the very sound that is produced and the other group really wants to know what words are being used, what the story is about and probably this group is more interested in the social aspects I would think. Or maybe there are other groups. I think it is just two separate groups.

I think the theory has been to just keep encouraging people and they will renounce the blue books. I do not think they are going to because the blue books have the words, which for someone like me are really not very important. I could not understand why people were so almost compulsive about having the words because after all you can sing heave away haul away doo da doo da and be participating in the music or you could hum or catch a few words of the chorus which is obviously what I do.

So perhaps this theory can be used to find solutions because frankly some very good venues are becoming more and more blue book oriented and they drive out the non bb singers just like that. I think there need to be separate song circles. I think in camps there need to be separate workshops friendly and hospitable to bb singers and at some time in the evening the major song circles almost need to split, giving the bb the best room etc.

I can't think of other solutions. Can anyone? I am to the point of not going to various camps because the main reason I go is to go to the late night sessions and they can go for hours round and round and round taking turns, singing from the bb. This did not happen at the recent camp. I do not want to discriminate but it is a marketing thing...how far would I go to hear what kind of music?

mg


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: JudeL
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:13 PM

Please excuse my ignorance but what is "THE Blue Book"?


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: MMario
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:18 PM

What frustrates me about "singing from the book" is that it can exclude anyone who doesn't have a copy of the book in their hands - because often the songs just aren't printed the way someone learned it - and somehow it is easier to catch onto the variations when everyone is singing from memory ....or so it seems to me.

On the other hand - when a tune is familiar - or you just need to be reminded of the words in the third verse - or get everyone to agree on a verse order - the books can be great.

I don't like the idea of segregating the two styles - because there are people who *need* the book when starting out; or need it as a "crutch" when LEADING a song - though not at other times -- and then there is always that some people will start with the book and move onward.

Which is not to say I haven't been frustrated at times with songs like "What do you do with a drunken sailor" sung "strictly by the book" - when the song is such a good chance to improvise lyrics on the fly

Or be leading a song from memory - and be run over by the book people because their lyrics are different from mine.


'Tis a puzzlement.


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Gervase
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:26 PM

I think the blue book is something called 'Rise up Singing' or the like, which seems to be popular in the USA. Thankfully there's nothing like that in the UK, so it's rare to be 'corrected' on lyrics and versions (but not unknown!).


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:27 PM

I don't have a problem with people using it to lead a song, just when they look collectively for a song in the book, pass out extra copies, sing every single verse with often what I consider to be not the right words, and wait for everyone to find the page. That is what I mean by singing out of the bb, not just someone referring to the lyrics. Also a local group has their own preferred lyrics to a particular song. The book often has other ones. mg


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:28 PM

Rest assured, someone will import it. mg


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: JudeL
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:30 PM

Being "run over" by people singing a different version can happen even when they are not singing from a book or even "THE BOOK" it happens because people hear a tune they know and don't bother to listen they just assume that you will sing the words they know. This happens even more frequently when you try to sing a parody version and (often because they were talking not listening) when it comes to the chorus some bright spark will start singing what they regard as "the proper version" . Trouble is it can be so offputting that you can then find it hard to remember the next verse.


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:31 PM

Well, unless it is a private party, say the leader chooses the words and everyone is to follow. That is what followers are for. mg


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Stewart
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 05:03 PM

I think this is an issue that will never be resolved, at least in my lifetime. So I just stop going to sessions (song circles) where the BOOK is the thing.

Also there's this thing about a "democratic" session where everyone takes a turn around the circle. In some cases, espceially when everyone is prepared, it works well. But when people aren't prepared (and have to use the book) it is a real drag - "well, it's my turn, but I really don't know what to sing... how about number 38 in the book, does anyone know that, I don't but I think it might be good to sing."

I usually prefer the "spontaneous" (Quaker session? lead a song only when you are moved to). But someone has to make sure that everyone has a chance to lead a song if they wish (or if they just need a little encouragement), and no one person dominates.

I used to bring a whole bag of word sheets and books to song circle, but I always mostly knew the songs befor singing them. When I quit doing that it was such a "freeing" experience - no long did I have to tote all the stuff around and remember to take it with me afterwards, but it meant that the songs that I did sing were really my own, and it greatly expanded my repertoire of songs I could sing entirely from memory.

My friend Chris Roe used to host a pub sing where no books were allowed. It was a great idea, and inspired me to make the switch. But unfortunately it died out because few people were prepared to do that.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: MartinRyan
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 05:13 PM

I have sometimes claimed that the reason I sing so many "obscure" songs is that I could never remember the standard set of words to the less obscure ones!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 05:18 PM

Stewart, that is the key. People stop going. No one tells anyone why. We must say why. We must tell them and we must make arrangements for both kinds of preferences. I do not think that Americans at least have too much of a non-book tradition. I think the book singing is actually more traditional. Again, this is not a value judgement, but it is a sound quality judgement. I think the two are incompatable basically, except perhaps in a trained choir where someone is the boss. I think a desire for sharing and caring comes into play, but again it ruins the sound. Some people produce sounds that are bad and generally don't realize it, some are good, some are superb and some like me and many others are good blenders and harmonizers but not true leaders, except perhaps in very small groups or workshops (a bunch of us harmonizers sat around forlornly looking for a leader or two at Camp Alexandra in some late evening sessions). I am quite content having the same 5 (not one) people more or less leading most of the time. Others are not. I want the prettiest music that can be done with the people present. I know that is not the priority of quite a few people. It is a dilemma for me. mg


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: GUEST,Mark
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 05:22 PM

Does folk music have to be performed the same way all the time, aren't you allowed to interpret the song the way it feels to the performer? Some of the songs are so old how can we know how they were presented orginally?


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Stewart
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 05:44 PM

Mary, I think people probably know why since I have expressed my feelings about it ( here ).

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Joybell
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 06:11 PM

I know it's not the point of this thread but I have a great fear of THE LARGE PRINT SONGBOOK - the feature of nursing homes and Senior Citizens clubs. Here is as good a place as any to mention it.
No! No! don't lock me up with endless renditions of "Show Me the Way to go Home". Just please show me the way to go home.
Is there a fine line between "the blue book" and the "large print songbook"? Just a slight difference in time?
Just wondering.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: greg stephens
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 06:29 PM

I like a singing session in a pub with a big open fire. So the book problem can be dealt with quite easily.(I am in England here, where these book type things have thankfully not appeared too extensively).


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 06:44 PM

You mean like toss them in or the lighting is such that they can't be read???? mg


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 09:32 PM

The Blue Book is--explicitly and intentionally--a book for campfire singers of the 1970s. As such, its contribution to a folksinging evening is, at best, tangential. If the only object is to get people singing, fine; if you're interested in the music they produce, start a big blue bonfire.


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 09:38 AM

Suggest a 'book-free' night every 4th session or so, bill it as an attempt to build people's memories and prevent Alzheimers from setting in. Hopefully your song circle has some sort of rotating 'themes' anyway, and that could be a theme. If it doesn't, well then maybe that's why it's so unfocused that people lean on the book too much.
I'd be careful about abandoning circles. I'm glad you have the luxury of picking and choosing them, we have none within 150 miles of here--don't let them slip away!

The problem is, life is very complex, we read thousands of books in our lives and hear thousands of songs. Only dedicated or professional musicians take the time to memorize every song they might ever want to share. The rest of us are too scattered to do that.   

It was easier back in the day when there were 3 books in the house and no radio to memorize all Uncle Clem's ballads and teach all your cousins to sing them the same as you. It takes focus now (or radio stations that endlessly play folk songs you want to learn, good luck ever getting to that).


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: shepherdlass
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 02:10 PM

If singing from a book's good enough for the Copper Family ....


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Bert
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 02:20 PM

There is room for both. The "Blue Book" or it's equivalents have been around for a long time. I have seen "Family Song Books", RUS, The YHA Song Book, many different "Fake Books", and so on. I have learned many songs from them and they are great for beginners.

Nowadays I KNOW a song before I sing it and my version won't be found in any reference book, so if people try to sing along with a reference book it becomes a pain. But without them (or The DT) I wouldn't know so many songs.


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 02:38 PM

There are a couple of song clubs close to me that I tend NOT to go to , simply because so many of the Floor Singers can ONLY sing with the words in front of them , which means that they never REALLY sing the song ! You CANT do a song full justice unless you KNOW it !!


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Effsee
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 02:44 PM

Hear, hear Leadfingers!!


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Joybell
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 03:41 PM

Yes! Yes!


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Scoville
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 03:53 PM

I personally never want to see RUS again but I have to admit that singing from a book seems to have its place when you have ten people in a group who are trying to sing together and you have no choice but to settle on one version of a given song. May not be the version I like, but at least it saves arguing over which verse is next, what's the chord progression, etc.--you just tell them to shut up and play as written.

Now, when I'm not playing with that many people at the same time, everyone I know can follow along well enough to figure it out without the book, if only on the chorus, and the version that's sung is the prerogative of the person who called the song. If you want it differently, you call it and play it your way on your next turn.

I've mostly learned to follow melodies and chord progressions by ear (or eye, if it's an instrument with whose chord structure I'm familiar) but I'm not naturally an auditory person so sometimes I need a bit of a push in the form of written lyrics or notation to get me un-stuck if I can't find someone to sit down with me and teach me the part one-on-one.


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: MuddleC
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 03:58 PM

I went to a music venue one spring , and was apalled to find the majority of them reading from bits of paper, only one guy seemed to really know his stuff when it became his 'turn'. I didn't go back till summer... thought I'd give some of the people a chance to learn it ... but to no avail. I decided not to go back till it was autumn., and blow me , it was still exactly the same,.. only one guy knew his stuff . I decided to give them one more chance,.. I'd come back in the winter and if they hadn't sorted themselves out ... well.. they would have to be told to forget those bits of paper or they would never improve.
I waited for winter, and still the blasted papers where everywhere, all over the place... I decided to stand up and tell them what I thought of it all , ... and for my pains, I was thrown out, me! thrown out!... why don't they throw that other guy out who always stands up right at the front waving a stick about his head?.. Another thing puzzled me, none of them knew the words , or even sang them, despite them being written in the programme...

Viv Aldi


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 04:30 PM

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone knew the words to every song you wanted to sing? Wouldn't it be nice if they spontaneously could join in in whatever style and whatever key anyone wanted to start in? Wouldn't it be nice if they stayed away from those tedious and overdone chestnuts, and sang only the real, traditional folksongs?

Really,it's really good that you can find people who get together to sing anything at all. Most people don't sing together. Most don't know the words to anything in particular, and most can't reliably sing a melody unless there is an oldies station playing. The books, which ever Blue Book you happen to have, are a blessing because they make it possible for more people to participate--

Social Singing is a dying art, and the Books(Dick, I think, has a different one than some others) are putting a bit of life back into it--don't unplug the life supports!


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Stewart
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 05:23 PM

Now that I have pretty much given up on song circle (because of the book thing) I host occasional (at least monthly) jams at my house with other music friends (mostly from the open mic). We bring a variety of instruments, and of course we all sing. We don't go around the circle (except sometimes at the beginning), but are more spontaneous, giving everyone who wants a chance to play or sing. One person will start out with a song or tune. Other instrumentalists will join in by improvising or doing harmony, or singing harmony even if they only pick up the chorus or a few words here and there. Of course they are all good musicians. Sometimes someone will have music or words and use the music stand if it is something they are still working on, but it's just for an occasional glance, they've already practiced the song or tune. We do both songs and tunes, no discrimination there. Often we end up with a potluck supper and maybe more jamming or conversation afterwards. It's always a lot of fun - it's what a "session" should be.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Genie
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 06:05 PM

M.Ted "Wouldn't it be nice if everyone knew the words to every song you wanted to sing? Wouldn't it be nice if they spontaneously could join in in whatever style and whatever key anyone wanted to start in? ...

Really,it's really good that you can find people who get together to sing anything at all. Most people don't sing together. Most don't know the words to anything in particular, and most can't reliably sing a melody unless there is an oldies station playing. The books, which ever Blue Book you happen to have, are a blessing because they make it possible for more people to participate--"

Hear, hear, Ted.

Mary, I'm actually in neither "camp" completely.   (Maybe that's because I'm pretty strong on both visual and auditory processing, though probably leaning towards auditory, especially when it comes to the music, as opposed to the words.)
Nothing gripes me much more than having the group screw up the phrasing -- not to mention the feeling -- of a song because they're leaning so heavily on the "crutch" of a piece of paper and can't watch the mouth of the songleader or the hands of the rhythm instruments and don't even realize that they already KNOW most of the words to the freakin' song already!
But something almost equally frustrating is doing a song where a group of voices would sound way better than a solo and some harmony would raise the experience to a whole new level -- and for that not to happen because only one person knows the lyrics!
(That's a common experience I have in some bluegrass groups, where I find myself aching to hear 3-part, tight harmony, but we have no lyric sheets.)

I would add that I get pretty tired of being 'instructed' to "please choose songs that have choruses so everyone can sing along."   Well, a lot of wonderful songs don't have choruses.

And it's unrealistic to expect a "group" to learn anything but the simplest songs by just hearing them in a song circle a few times a year (if that).    You can take your books or song sheets with you and make a point of learning the lyrics if you like. (You could do that with CDs or audio tapes, too, but people seldom have a batch of those to hand out -- and they almost never use them DURING the session.)

For me, the best possible scenario is where people come to think of books and song sheets as learning devices for new material and as sort of like "training wheels" for use while you're learning a new song. Kind of like being in a choir, where you rehearse with the hymnal or sheet music, but you hold your music up just below eye level and watch the choir director over the top of it, glancing down only as needed to keep your place in the music or trigger your memory of the next line.   And by the time you perform the anthem or cantata, you're hardly using that sheet music at all, even if you do have it in your hands.

G


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Stewart
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 07:03 PM

"I would add that I get pretty tired of being 'instructed' to "please choose songs that have choruses so everyone can sing along."   Well, a lot of wonderful songs don't have choruses."

Yes, I find it quite limiting to sing only chorus songs.

"and don't even realize that they already KNOW most of the words to the freakin' song already!"

My sentiments exactly, when I come to song circle and hear folks singing the same song they have sung hundreds of times, with their noses still stuck in the freakin' book!

"For me, the best possible scenario is where people come to think of books and song sheets as learning devices"

Exactly! Books are great FOR group singing, but should never be used IN group singing.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Genie
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 07:46 PM

Stewart, I prefer big-print song sheets for use IN group singing. They can be placed on a stand and glanced at PRN, without people's faces being buried in them. (And I'm not saying they need to be used on all songs, just from time to time.)

There's (unfortunately) a reason why RUS is often referred to as "Rise Up Squinting."

In my professional gigs I sometimes have a giant-print song sheet in front of me on a few selected songs (especially songs in other languages).    They're not obtrusive, and they do come in handy when your mind goes blank in the middle of a song and you can't remember the first word of the next song.   One glance is all it takes.

But I do agree people need to learn to use both their memory skills and info from auditory and visual sources BESIDES books and sheet music.


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 09:29 PM

I think it is also important to recognize that not everyone has to sing every word of every song. Take a pad and pen with you and write down the ones you like and look them up and sing along the next time. In the meantime, hum etc. mg


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 09:53 PM

Exactly, Mary. Why is it that insecure singers seem to have a compulsion to have to to sing every word of every song they hear--rather than enjoy listening to somebody else sing sometimes--and then possibly come in on the chorus themselves? And that of course would negate the need for--any--book.


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Genie
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 11:12 PM

Mary, I agree with your point about maybe humming instead of singing all the words.

That works quite well with jazz and doo-wop. With bluegrass, not so much. ;)

Ron and Mary, I don't disagree with either of your last posts, but I still feel strongly that totally foregoing the use of any books or song sheets DOES impoverish the treasury of what can be had for enjoyment in group singing -- noticeably and unnecessarily.

We'd seldom have the joy of singing a song like CSNY's "Teach Your Children" if nobody ever got to "cheat" by glancing at the words while singing.   (OK, maybe there's a whole generation that knows the words to that particular one, but there are similar and less well-known songs where the harmony is equally important (and humming doesn't cut it).

Ron, I DO enjoy listening to others sing solos sometimes.   Just not all the time.   And, as has been mentioned, many wonderful songs don't have choruses.   And some songs have their best harmonies in the verses.

Maybe it's because I grew up singing in church and in the choir, with hymnals, sheet music, etc., that I don't have this huge aversion to the use of printed props.   They don't have to be a distraction, and they certainly can get a lot of people singing who otherwise wouldn't sing.

By the time I was 8 or 10 I knew pretty much all the words to all the verses of all the songs in the Baptist hymnal (at least the songs we sang) by heart.   I never had to "study" to learn these songs, I just sang along from the hymnal and the transition to not needing the words occurred seamlessly.    But I never felt like the group singing experience was diminished by some people still using the printed words.

(OK, holding the hymnal does interfere with clapping along. But middle class white Baptists were never known for their sense of rhythm anyway. ;-D )


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 08:51 AM

Last week at Maidenhead , the guests were Cockersdale , three voices in harmony , and the brought their own printed song sheets for Christmas songs . THIS I find perfectly acceptable , as there are variants in most of the carols , so a song sheet for auduience participation is good ! IF you want EVERYONE to join in ALL the words of a song , fair enough , use 'the Book' but for Pete's Sake LEARN the song you are going to sing ! And it doesnt take a MENSA IQ to join in a chorus without the book !!


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 03:35 PM

I don't expect people to just listen to others sing--just be willing to do it sometimes--just as they can lead songs themselves and others will listen to the verses-- and join in the chorus. With very few exceptions I try to pick songs to sing that have good choruses--not long ballads with no chance for anybody else's participation. But I don't expect to sing every word of the verses to a song somebody else is leading--I just hope they also pick songs with choruses so I can also participate--especially since I love harmonizing. And if somebody has worked out a duet--or has a particular song they would like to do--even with no chorus--that's fine.

But in none of these cases is it necessary for anybody to have Rise Up Singing--- or any other quasi-hymnal---in front of them as they sing.

I think that's Mary's point also.


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 04:08 PM

Also, "Teach Your Children" is a fine song--but I'd have to agree with Bill D that it's not really "folk"--anything that's been a big hit on commercial radio in the last 50 years is not likely to be "folk" , by our definition.

(We also would not do stuff from the "folk scare"--no PPM, Kingston Trio big hits etc.)

(Though we might possibly do something Harry Belafonte did--though not the huge hits.)   Again, a lot of radio play--in the past 50 years-- will just about disqualify any song for us.

Added to which, Crosby Stills etc stuff's got them uptown chords in it--most "folk" has real easy chords--and only about 3 or 4 of them.   And a lot can be easily sung without instruments.

At the gatherings I go to, we make a conscious effort to only do things you likely won't hear on commercial radio--though you might have in the 30's or so.

We figure anything you can hear on commercial radio doesn't need our help to survive--and some other music might.

And we don't expect everybody to go along with our approach--but we like it--and it uses no books. Maybe a word sheet once in while for a tricky new song somebody wants to bring--some don't even do that.   I figure any paper in front of you will distract you from connecting with the others in the group--unless you don't look at the paper--just use it as a talisman. And that works!


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: shepherdlass
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 04:14 PM

See, I can't help but worry about these absolutes. Yes, it's nice to get up and sing without any psychological props, like wordsheets, etc. But then you look at other styles of music (say, oratorio) where the holding of the book is part of the form no matter how well you know the piece. It doesn't really prevent communication. And sometimes an otherwise excellent and well-rehearsed singer gets a blind spot about a particular set of words ... isn't it better for them to have the words to hand just to stop them from going to pieces when you know they're going to really deliver as long as they have that security there?


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 04:16 PM

As I said, the singer can hold the music--just not look at it. And that actually does work.


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 04:20 PM

Actually, glancing at the words is OK. But that's a far cry from a RUS session.


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 06:31 PM

It is not whether the leader has the words, to my mind, but whether she first stops the flow of the music, hands out extra books she has brought along for such a circumstance, tells everyone the page number and waits whilst they find it. If she just wants to look at the words her ownself, fine, if others are fast enough to figure out where it is in their books, fine. Otherwise, they can ask her later one what was that lovely song and read the words at their leisure in the bathtub or Starbucks or wherever.

And if you have an ongoing event, song circle, session, music camp, and you want to not deal with these books, better do something right now to get something in writing and put it out when you publicize your event that we sing sans books for perhaps everyone but the person leading the song. It will save a lot of trouble up front.

Of course, if people like the books and want to start their own events where books are welcome, encouraged or mandatory, more power to them. My problem is when the books ruin ongoing events that have been wonderful without them. New events where they are part and parcel are just fine. People can choose whichever style of singing they like and attend events accordingly. mg


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: GUEST,Lost the plot
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 06:38 PM

If "singers" can't be arsed to learn the songs. Why should anyone be arsed listening to them ?


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Subject: RE: Oral vs. written preferences in singing
From: Stewart
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 08:25 PM

I think maybe what Mary is saying is that sessions or circles which were previously populated by people who sang without books (at least for the most part) are now being changed into mostly-book sessions - sort of a decline to the lowest common denominator or quality of singing. Most song circles pride themselves as having few rules. But groups could decide to have no-book sessions or limited-book (however that might be defined). But then the number of participants might radically decline. The no-books pub session I mentioned in an earlier post declined to zero because few people were prepared to go without books. Education might be an option. But in the end it's just getting like-minded people to get together. If you don't like your current song circle, start your own.

So there!

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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