Hang on, just a minute, why are you singing like that?…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s joke is the one about all the pigs on the farm snorting and waving at the Prime Minister as he sweeps past in his car. How we chuckled as we leaned on the gate smoking our pipes…

There is a sort of honesty about a person who sings in their own voice, keeping whatever accent they have, the way they speak, and their vocal mannerisms.
I was once in a band where I wrote the music, and the singer wrote the words to go with it. We weren’t that popular, but I thought that we were pretty good, but never mind that. For me the big problem with the vocals wasn’t the sound of the singer’s voice or his words, it was that, even though he was a Northern England Dulltown lad, he sang with a fake American accent – and not a particularly good one at that. I suppose it was a lack of confidence, and he thought no one would take him seriously with a Dulltown accent, and that he would sound better being temporarily an American… Crazy!…
I did mention this once or twice, but it didn’t make any difference. I’d have loved it if he’d have sung his own words in his own voice, and I think audiences in these parts would have respected it too.
As you may know, I love blues music – the music of the black people of the USA from the first half of the 20th c.. When Europeans got into it and started playing it (I was one of them) that was fine, but not many of them were very convincing singing it; should you try to sound like a black American, or should you use your own voice and have the music sound a bit ‘wrong’? The Rolling Stones and the Animals managed it pretty well and made it their own, but white British chaps with expensive guitars singing about juke joints and being in Parchman Farm Penitentiary, Mississippi, makes my toes curl in my shoes…
Folk singers are alright I suppose – so long as they are real folk – farm hands, fishermen, labourers, etc., and not middle-class accountants, teachers, social workers and the like, putting on that very strange multi-regional ‘folk singer’ voice that they have developed.
Now, I don’t really warm to the people who sing those smooth, slightly jazzy songs, the ‘American standards’ – Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, et al, but at least they did use their own voices and they didn’t pretend to be someone else.
Teenage guitar strumming bands, punk bands – the singers may be ‘whiners’ and shouters, but generally they do seem to sing naturally – and even though I find it all a bit weak and insipid, and not to my taste, it does sound ‘right’, and not phony.
Now we come to classical music – the singing in this musical form I find decidedly odd. Choirs generally sound alright, but the solo singers, both female and male, to me sound unnatural, contrived, and, well… mad!
They all sound like posh British English teachers, with horribly well-rounded vowels, and crisp crisp diction – they all seem to sing like that, even the Americans; it seems to be the standard way. I’m pretty sure that they don’t talk like that – or maybe they do? Imagine being stuck in a lift for an hour with two or three of them! It is especially crazy in opera where some character is supposed to be a lowly Suffolk fisherman, or a World War One common soldier suffering in the bloody filthy trenches, or even President Nixon on a trip to China… Cor blimey!…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in art, blues, Dulltown, Hull.UK., humour, information, music, observations, style, surrealism, war and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hang on, just a minute, why are you singing like that?…

  1. I agree! Authenticity is very important, and (in my opinion) your own voice adds to the music. Nothing worse than some posh young lad from boarding school singing about life in the ghetto, ha! Oh, I remember this singer songwriter girl from a few years back – really funny https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6i3qeErUaFo

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