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BS: A singer's complaint

Bagpuss 16 Jul 00 - 03:35 PM
bbelle 16 Jul 00 - 03:47 PM
bbelle 16 Jul 00 - 03:48 PM
katlaughing 16 Jul 00 - 04:40 PM
wysiwyg 16 Jul 00 - 04:47 PM
Margo 16 Jul 00 - 04:48 PM
wysiwyg 16 Jul 00 - 04:49 PM
sophocleese 16 Jul 00 - 04:57 PM
Uncle_DaveO 16 Jul 00 - 05:20 PM
Catlin 16 Jul 00 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,emily b 16 Jul 00 - 07:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Jul 00 - 07:25 PM
GUEST,Banjo Johnny 16 Jul 00 - 08:35 PM
GUEST,we5rall1 16 Jul 00 - 09:32 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 16 Jul 00 - 09:39 PM
Alice 16 Jul 00 - 10:15 PM
Bagpuss 17 Jul 00 - 05:40 AM
Peter Kasin 17 Jul 00 - 06:30 AM
Bat Goddess 17 Jul 00 - 07:53 AM
A Wandering Minstrel 17 Jul 00 - 10:53 AM
Kim C 17 Jul 00 - 11:20 AM
sophocleese 17 Jul 00 - 11:22 AM
Willie-O 17 Jul 00 - 11:35 AM
Bagpuss 17 Jul 00 - 11:43 AM
oggie 17 Jul 00 - 06:02 PM
Gypsy 17 Jul 00 - 10:11 PM
GUEST,Barry Finn 17 Jul 00 - 10:48 PM
Little Neophyte 17 Jul 00 - 11:16 PM
Escamillo 18 Jul 00 - 03:49 AM
MMario 18 Jul 00 - 10:19 AM
Richard Bridge 18 Jul 00 - 10:30 AM
A Wandering Minstrel 18 Jul 00 - 10:35 AM
Lena 18 Jul 00 - 11:19 AM
Jim Krause 18 Jul 00 - 01:16 PM
Les B 18 Jul 00 - 02:48 PM
Kim C 18 Jul 00 - 03:09 PM
MMario 18 Jul 00 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Willie-O 18 Jul 00 - 03:39 PM
Les B 18 Jul 00 - 07:40 PM
Rick Fielding 18 Jul 00 - 10:43 PM
sledge 19 Jul 00 - 04:18 AM
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Subject: A singer's complaint
From: Bagpuss
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 03:35 PM

This is only a minor gripe, and it doesn't keep me awake at night - so don't get the impression that I'm totally over-sensitive...

But does it bug anyone else when instrumentalists are referred to as "musicians" - with the implication that singers are not musicians...

Just me?

Bagpuss


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: bbelle
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 03:47 PM

To tell you the truth, Bagpuss, I would make a big issue of it. I'm a singer who plays guitar ... sometimes I'm called "musician" ... sometimes "singer" ... and sometimes "vocalist" ... and frankly I don't care what they call me as long as they keep calling me ...

moonchild


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: bbelle
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 03:48 PM

Damn! My proofreader's on a break. I meant to say ... "To tell you the truth, Bagpuss, I WOULDN'T make a big issue of it ..."

moonchild (who must have been baying at the moon too much)


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 04:40 PM

Good question, Bagpuss. I have noticed a tendency on the part of singers to sort of downplay their talent with statements such as "Well, I only sing." Or, "Just my voice, I don't play any instruments." I had been wondering is there was some sort of inferiority complex going on. It will be interesting to see what others have to say. Why does the voice seem inadequate to some?


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: wysiwyg
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 04:47 PM

Well, pour large community choir got pretty pissed when the conductor informed us that we equalled one instrument-- the orchestra, he said, was made up of [x] number of instruments, then there chorus made one more.

We thought we should have made at least four, one for each part, but we actually knew each of us was one, just as each violin was one!

I also would have to admit that on the thread, "How did you choose your instrument," it didn't seem like anyone would get it if I said, "Duh!! BORN with it!" So I didn't even look at the thread, which just goes to show how we perpetuate these silly notions right on ourselves.

THIS singer's complaint is more about people who jam without regard for the fact that what they are doing is a SONG meant to be SUNG, and they will go so fast or so loud that there is no point even trying to sing.... or they play a piece as though the rhythm makes no difference, like putting ALL FOUR BEATS in a measure because the singer may actually be singing what is written.... ha ha.... or totally not hearing that some phrasing may be in order, not only for mood but to allow one to breathe.... playing as though you can sing if you really want to, but only to accompany them-- when actually a good player will accompany the singer, and even have a sort of recording of the singing in their head they are accompanying, if no one is actually singing....

But I do like bodhran players, for the record. I think what I will do is take a bodhran along to our next jam, and then if they won't make it singable I'll just whizz up a nice long, loud bodhran solo.

Just kidding.

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Margo
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 04:48 PM

Warning! Threadcreep imminent! I have noticed lately that a singer (or vocalist or whatever) can actually sing into a microphone, and I still can't understand all the words. I want to give them diction lessons! To me a singer is really a musician when they have the right blend of technique and expression.

I know what you mean about people using certain verbage that leaves you wondering. I think it's just a matter of not thinking it through or not being aware of proper terminology. Probably not malicious.... my guess anyway. Margo


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: wysiwyg
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 04:49 PM

love them yptos---- pour = our, there = the....

There's probably more.

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: sophocleese
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 04:57 PM

Its probably the same as bodhran players. Anybody can bang the drum and make a noise so a lot of people don't understand that technique exists. Anybody can open their mouth and saing something and why think that what anybody else does is any better? It doesn't bug me a lot. I'm in good company, those who play the pipes are rarely called musicians either, they're just pipers.


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 05:20 PM

I'm not sure where this fits in with the discussion, but I'm fond of the following formulation of where I fit in the scheme of things:

There are banjo players; there are banjo players who sing; and there are singers who banje. I'm a singer who banjes.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Catlin
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 07:01 PM

I know what you mean about undervaluing your voice. I was lucky enough to be able to go to the local college when I was 16 and have free singing lessons as part of my music course. It took me six months of lessons before I realised that my voice truely was an 'instrument'.
I consider myself to be lucky to have been born with such a good strong voice, but I know how much work I have put into it too. The only reason my voice sounds the way it does is because I made it that way. Just the same as an instrumentalist works on their intrument to perfect their playing, I have to practice and sing every day to make my voice something to be proud of.
I 'know' I'm a musician in the same way I know I'm.... well.... *tries to think of an example*...... *can't think of one*..... well I just know, alright! If you cut me in half you find the word 'Musician' inscribed... as well as 'mother', 'lover', dress-maker' and all the others. And some blood and guts an stuff.... better stop the analogy there really :)
*Hugs*
Catlin


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: GUEST,emily b
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 07:04 PM

Whatever they call us, I'll tell you, nothing will quiet a room better than a beautiful voice, singing a sad, slow song all alone. The term musician doesn't begin to describe this.

Maybe singers are to storytellers what instrumentalists are to writers. You tell someone you are a storyteller and you probably get no respect. Ah, but a writer, that implies talent. It doesn't matter that the storyteller carefully crafts his story and then performs it.

It's taken me a long time to even be able to define myself as a singer and I still probably downplay my talent. Maybe because singing is so personal. And my body is my instrument and fickle. Our voices can be affected by so many factors. Instrumentalists don't have to worry about as much. And I still dread the people that say, "Oh, you're a singer, sing me something!" People don't ask an artist to paint them something, or a ballet dancer to do a pirouette.

Geez, I guess I'm a bit touchy on this. I even feel myself that I'm "just a singer." I guess I should learn the guitar...

Emily


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 07:25 PM

It's very rare to find a good singer who can sing as well with a guitar as they can without it.


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: GUEST,Banjo Johnny
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 08:35 PM

How do you like being called an "artist"?

== Johnny in OKC


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: GUEST,we5rall1
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 09:32 PM

I've got a rather slow cousin that can belch "DIXIE". Would that be singin or playin HHHHMMMMMMMMM?


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 09:39 PM

Emily, I think you express it very well. I am finally in a place where I proudly name my "instrument"- and then go on to say, "and I also try to play guitar, fiddle, etc." But my first real instrument is the one I was born with!


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Alice
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 10:15 PM

Threads on the Singing Voice - click here


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Bagpuss
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 05:40 AM

I know what you mean about diction. I don't know if some people just don't realise that the words aren't coming across clearly, or they think the words arent as important as the tune. For me they are equally important, and I always try to work hard on my diction.

I think I can sing as well with a guitar as without one, but only if I have practised the guitar part until my fingers are sore!!! There are some songs I sing that really need accompaniment, and others that i do much better unaccompanied.

Another thing I have noticed is that people will tolerate a bad singer who can play the accompanying instrument well, much more than people tolerate a good singer who isn't so hot on the other instrument. Am I imagining this?

Bagpuss


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Peter Kasin
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 06:30 AM

I think many people say "musicians and singers" in innocence, unaware that they are implying that singers are not musicians. When they say "musician" they really mean "instrumentalist" as opposed to "singer." It's an unfortunate use of language, and hopefully the term musician will be used more often to cover both singers and instrumentalists - and, like moonchild, those many who are both.


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 07:53 AM

Good timing on this thread! At our Friday night session, a "groupie" (one of our regular listeners) described me to his young and folk-innocent girlfriend as "a groupie who sometimes sings with the band." (He's never heard me at a gig, just at the Friday pub sessions.) Then girlfriend asked me if I played any instruments or "just sang." I rattled off what I play and said, "But I prefer to concentrate on singing." THEN, the banjo player who should damned well know better attempted to "accompany" me on "Fathom the Bowl." I restrained myself and only flung wadded up napkins at him (it not being professional to stop singing to chastise a "musician") instead of something much harder and messier. (I really wouldn't have flung a pint of Guinness at him; I don't waste good beer or make a mess for the waitress or take a chance of damaging anyone's instrument.)

Arghhh!!! (Thank you for letting me get that off my chest.)

Bat Goddess


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 10:53 AM

Bagpuss You sure are right about diction. Theres nothing worse than a song that appears to be entirely vowel!!

For Sophocles I would remark that us drum bangers do have to learn how to play the thing and you canuse it as an accompaniament instrument for songs such as "I will Go" and "Babylon has Fallen" That means I must be a musician then although I still sing unaccompanied!


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Kim C
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 11:20 AM

I don't know. I never thought about it, I guess because I have always played an instrument AND sang. Until I had a husband I pretty much always accompanied myself.

My license plate says IYODEL. Once in awhile somebody will ask if it's true, and I say, why would I lie about something like THAT? Once in awhile, somebody will ask me to prove it. Most of the time, I don't. About a month ago, though, Mister and I were on vacation, and we pulled up to a stop light, and a very nice man in the car next to us asked for a little Roy Rogers. Feeling spunky, I obliged him, then the light turned green.

But yeah, if anyone knows you sing, they think you can just do it at the drop of a hat for their entertainment. That's always bugged me, especially when it comes to people who really don't appreciate you. Like, when I was a kid, and took piano lessons for 20million years, someone at every family gathering would insist I play something. This was like casting pearls before swine. I'd play something classical, because that's what I was learning, and inevitably someone would say, That's nice, now play something we know.

So I stopped playing for them. :)


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: sophocleese
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 11:22 AM

Umm, Wandering Minstrel, I said that technique exists, but that not all people understand that. I have a bodhran too and don't play it in public as I know I'm still not very good on it. But I do sing in public as confidence in my voice has increased.


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Willie-O
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 11:35 AM

Bagpuss, good singer/bad instrumentalist vs. bad singer/good instrumentalist question:

A lot of people are unreasonably demeaning of their own abilities as an instrumental player. The question is not how many hot licks and fancy partial chords do you know, but how well does your playing complement the rest of the music? If you can get the chords right and develop a reasonably crisp strum that is on the beat, that's a greater asset to an ensemble than someone who is trying to do stuff that is beyond their technical range.

Likewise, good musicians do the best they can with the instruments they have, including voice--it's overall musicianship people instinctively respond to, not the quality of a particular item.

I don't think you're imagining this so much as you are framing the question as if playing music were a competitive enterprise. This is a pretty common developmental phase for musicians, but true satisfaction comes from when you get past it. There will always be someone better than you at something, and someone not as good, and someone who gets more applause and vice versa. So what? YOU gotta be happy with what you do, and that will bring confidence and fellow musicians and audiences respond to that, for what its worth.

Hint: If a musician (not me, someone who hears you) offers you a constructive criticism of your playing, try to hear what they're getting at. You won't enjoy it at the time (I never do), but later on you'll appreciate it. It's nice when people tell you you're terrific, but that's not the part that helps you develop that all-important musicianship.

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Bagpuss
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 11:43 AM

W-O

People don't often get to hear my guitar playing, as I most often decide I sound better without it. Perhaps I should let people hear it more and get some of that constructive criticism that might help me to get better.

Bagpuss


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: oggie
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 06:02 PM

Everyone seems to assume they can sing so they (and we undervalue) the skill.

It doesn't just happen in folk. My son as a chorister sings at Grade 8 level but in concerts its the instrumentalists playing at a lower level who always get the plaudits. (Mind you he also plays a mean concertina so there's hope for him yet!)

All the best

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Gypsy
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 10:11 PM

How sad. I wish that i could sing like my husband. the voice is the most portable instrument that I can think of.We hold it in pretty high esteem around here.


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: GUEST,Barry Finn
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 10:48 PM

Hi Batty, ya don't need no stinkin' backup, you do pretty darn well on your own. At that same session (different night) a conga drummer figured the song I was singing needed only his drum, I had my own drum in hand & would've played it if I thought it would enhance the song, I'm not shy about it. I nearly put my hand on his drum but thought it would do more damage to him than he was doing to the song & so I let it pass. I always felt that the song was more important than both singer & backup & only if the backup lent more to the song should it be used. At a session I'm very lax about those views cause eveyone's there to play & sing with each other so I guess it's more a personnal call, hopefully. Here's how valued the voice is, break someone's hand or arm or shoulder or their instrument or just tie them up & you can get them to stop playing but to stop someone from singing you gotta break their damn neck. Barry


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 11:16 PM

Willie - Oh those were some good point you made.
I have noticed people who are singers who do not play an instrument almost lower their head when they tell you so. I thought, that is really sad for there is not need to undervalue the skill of singing.
I tend to be 'unreasonably demeaning of my own abilities as an instrumentalist'. I am just learning the basics but I can see I do compare myself to others which is silly because it just makes me feel horrible.
I love playing my banjo, and I would like to learn to play it well. That is all that matters.
I feel I can not sing, but it won't stop me from trying to learn. Once again I bump up against comparing myself to others which makes me feel horrible.

So I am going to take my kind friend Bill's advice and just be happy with what I do. This is most important.

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Escamillo
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 03:49 AM

A story from a friend of mine who conduces a well respected vocal group, the Collegium Musicum of Buenos Aires: once they performed in a school in a province, including classical and folk songs in front of a large audience. At the end, the school´s administrator approached him and asked "Maestro, didn't you bring some accordion, guitar, or something ?" - "No, er.. it happens that the choir sings a capella,that's voices only" - "Ahha.. er.. it's a pity, cause people here like music.."
Singers of the world, unite !! :))
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: MMario
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:19 AM

I confess I am on of those terrible audience people who sing along with performers. I try to respect them and the songs, but choruses beg to be sung...


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:30 AM

No point in a chorus if you don't sing it.

But on the original point of the thread, I suspect that there are more singers than there are musicians whose instrument is the voice. Me, I sing and play a little guitar (since I was 14, nearly 40 years ago) and some mandolin, but I'm still not a musician.


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:35 AM

Good for you MMario, after all what are songs for but to be sung. Besides if I forget the words people following along may keep on singing just long enough for me to take the prompt and recover... :-)

Sophoclese I wasn't intending to take or give offense. The bodhran is an instrument that, as you and I both know requires technique and practice to play well. don't be afraid to play it out of modesty, but if you don't want to stand out too much a rolled bar-towel in the back helps a lot.


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Lena
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 11:19 AM

Some music traditions where people was too poor to own an instrument have a long history of vocal music. Like Breton music.Usually a couple of voices sings the melody and stomps feet and a crowd dances to it. Probably Breton is the less fiddley of all celtic traditions but... however,I always thought that it was,on the contrary,a form of respect.Like:their voice is so worthy that they just don't mind about instruments...(which got me pretty gelous). But after all,so many instruments just come from trying to imitate human voice traits... Don't make it an issue,really.


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Jim Krause
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 01:16 PM

I guess I always thought of myself as a singer who played several instruments, because the songs I sang needed something different for each one. For example, Fair and Tender Ladies worked just fine on the guitar, but The House Carpenter worked out a lot better on the banjo. Besides, I needed something to do while giving my voice a rest between verses.

As to being unable to understand the words when a singer uses a microphone, I have found upon inspection that the sound technician has the EQ set at something resembling a smiley face; all the mid-range frequencies are shut down, the lows and the highs are boosted. I suppose this works for rock 'n' roll, but for old-time, bluegrass, and other sorts of music that are miked, the singer ends up getting buried in the mix. I rather like a flat EQ setting, where the midranges are approximately equal to the highs and lows, allowing for the vagueries of the room, or the outdoor stage setting, etc. etc.

The most recent jam I went to was at a friend and fellow band mate's second annual 40th birthday party. We were about evenly divided between singers and pickers. And when some one wanted to sing a song that was somewhat unfamiliar, the rest of us sat politely and listened. If you caught on to it quickly, you could join in quietly and accompany the singer. I rather liked that. It gave a nice variety to the jam.


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Les B
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 02:48 PM

The argument of musician Vs singer aside, Soddy's recent post offers a rationale of why singers (folk) probably should learn to play basic guitar. Most multi-instrumentalists who play stringed instruments can "read" guitar chords as another person plays them.

Even if a singer can barely play the chords she/he can get some back-up from the "instrumentalists" - and, as pointed out in one of the other threads, if the instumentalists know what you're singing/playing they can do the instrumental "breaks" between verses while you catch your breath and try to remember the next words.

Of course this has a down side if you get someone who really wants to hammer on their instrument and drown you out, but before you start, or even at the break, you might nicely ask them to back off on the volume while you're singing.

Putting instrumental breaks in a song also stretches the time you're on center stage, which is also good for the old ego! It can all be worked out. It shouldn't be an adversarial process - unless it's a gathering of lawyers. Some people are destined to be singers and others have more talent picking, use what you find.


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Kim C
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 03:09 PM

My only real complaint is people who try to accompany you on an acapella song!


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: MMario
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 03:17 PM

kim, vocally or instrumentally accompany you?


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: GUEST,Willie-O
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 03:39 PM

And oh, yeah, there's another maxim I live and die by:

In any audience, for any performer (ANY performer), there will be people that like your singing and/or playing, and people that don't. IT DOESN'T MATTER. You might learn something that you could improve on from the latter, but it's just as likely that your natural sound is just not to their taste and they don't even know why.

If there are people listening at all, at least one of them likes you, and that's who you play for. (Even if it's you!)

I discovered a long time ago that most people consider me a good instrumentalist, but my singing voice is not appreciated by all. I think it's improved over the years, as I have found a "home repertoire" that suits my vocal chords. It still doesn't appeal to everyone, and I am fine with that. I don't like everyone elses' singing either, even if I admire their technical ability.

W-O


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Les B
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 07:40 PM

Willie-O - very nicely put. It takes a number of years to get by the competitive "I'm better than you" element of music and just settle down to doing the best you can with what you were dealt. As the bard said "This above all, to thine ownself be true."


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:43 PM

Kim C, I just heard a horror story from some friends about that. They were playing at a festival and during a workshop, sang an old unaccompanied Southern Gospel song. One of the musicians on stage was a VERY respected senior member of the world folk community who should have known better, and he started strumming along (out of tune apparently) with no clue or sensitivity to the music. They were PISSED!

Rick


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Subject: RE: BS: A singer's complaint
From: sledge
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 04:18 AM

In our weekly session we have a well loved singer from Ireland, who is constantly being called on to sing, no one even thinks of accompanying him.

A friend and myself have started to sing unaccompanied shanties, these being suited to our type of voice (a bit rough), we are called on to sing and again no one strums or plinks.

It could be courteous or it could be tired fingers, either way, everyone goes home happy.


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This Thread Is Closed.


Mudcat time: 23 April 12:45 AM EDT

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