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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Taconicus Singing with Irish Accent - Why!!? (95* d) RE: Singing with Irish/Scottish Accent - Why!!? 26 May 11

I'm a bit sensitive on this subject because many times after I sing someone will come up to me and say something like "I like the way you sang that with a Scottish accent," which bugs me because I'm not Scottish and I'm not trying to sing with a Scottish accent, and I know what Murray MacLeod (above) means about wanting to cringe when he hears an American trying to affect a Scottish accent when singing a Scottish song. And I know that because I've often found it hard to suppress a snicker when listening to some professional Scottish folk singers trying to sing traditional American folk songs like Shenandoah.

But I have to say that there are at least three reasons that this sort of thing can seem to happen even when the singer is NOT trying to affect an accent.

First, as Dave Ruch mentioned above, if you learn a song from someone who sang it with a particular accent, then if you (as I) tend to learn songs by ear, then you'll tend to sing it somewhat the way you heard it, without purposely trying to affect any particular accent.

Second, just as someone living in a foreign country will just naturally start to pick up some of the accent from living there, in the same way someone who spends a lot of time listening to and singing songs of another country will naturally start to develop a particular accent corresponding to that of the native singers of those songs. To give you an example, I recall back in the 1960s being surprised when I heard the Beatles speaking, because although they seemed to sing with a totally American accent, they spoke with a pronounced English accent which was absent from their singing. I don't believe it was because they were trying to pretend, or were purposely singing with an American accent. I think it was just a natural outgrowth of having loved, listened to, and sung American rock & roll so much and for so long. It's possible for singers to develop a singing accent which is different from their speaking accent. It's natural and doesn't require pretense, and can result in an accent which is not the same as a native accent, but can sound affected.

Finally, there's the matter of dialect. A lot of Scottish songs include lyrics in the Scots dialect, and there's nothing wrong with a non-Scottish singer trying to pronounce those Scots dialect words correctly, because in many cases to do otherwise would do violence to the song. So in that case it's not a matter of accent at all, but of pronunciation.

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