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Why folk don't sing

Burke 26 Apr 05 - 11:53 AM
GUEST 26 Apr 05 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,Jim 26 Apr 05 - 12:04 PM
breezy 26 Apr 05 - 12:25 PM
DonMeixner 26 Apr 05 - 12:55 PM
PoppaGator 26 Apr 05 - 01:15 PM
Burke 26 Apr 05 - 02:25 PM
Pauline L 26 Apr 05 - 02:34 PM
Once Famous 26 Apr 05 - 02:35 PM
Bev and Jerry 26 Apr 05 - 02:41 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 26 Apr 05 - 02:42 PM
GUEST,Clint Keller 26 Apr 05 - 02:51 PM
Burke 26 Apr 05 - 02:51 PM
mack/misophist 26 Apr 05 - 03:06 PM
Ernest 26 Apr 05 - 03:51 PM
Jen M 26 Apr 05 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Apr 05 - 06:04 PM
PoppaGator 26 Apr 05 - 06:06 PM
PatrickCostello 26 Apr 05 - 06:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 26 Apr 05 - 06:28 PM
GUEST,(Val) 26 Apr 05 - 06:47 PM
Burke 26 Apr 05 - 07:01 PM
ElwynnMaxon 26 Apr 05 - 09:36 PM
GUEST 27 Apr 05 - 01:39 AM
Liz the Squeak 27 Apr 05 - 04:20 AM
JennieG 27 Apr 05 - 06:34 AM
GUEST,Jim 27 Apr 05 - 06:39 AM
Liz the Squeak 27 Apr 05 - 06:54 AM
GUEST,Jim 27 Apr 05 - 07:08 AM
Ron Davies 27 Apr 05 - 07:47 AM
Liz the Squeak 27 Apr 05 - 07:54 AM
Essex Girl 27 Apr 05 - 08:49 AM
Rapparee 27 Apr 05 - 09:08 AM
GUEST,Joe_F 27 Apr 05 - 09:17 AM
ranger1 27 Apr 05 - 09:47 AM
Big Al Whittle 27 Apr 05 - 11:49 AM
Moses 27 Apr 05 - 12:09 PM
Liz the Squeak 27 Apr 05 - 12:30 PM
Ebbie 27 Apr 05 - 01:30 PM
coldjam 27 Apr 05 - 01:56 PM
PoppaGator 27 Apr 05 - 01:59 PM
Pauline L 27 Apr 05 - 02:35 PM
Ebbie 27 Apr 05 - 04:39 PM
Liz the Squeak 27 Apr 05 - 05:01 PM
frogprince 27 Apr 05 - 05:07 PM
Naemanson 27 Apr 05 - 05:27 PM
Frankham 27 Apr 05 - 05:57 PM
GUEST,Skipy 27 Apr 05 - 05:58 PM
Burke 27 Apr 05 - 06:13 PM
LilyFestre 27 Apr 05 - 06:20 PM
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Subject: Why folk don't sing
From: Burke
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 11:53 AM

Take a look "The "Subject" is Singing: Singing as Social Practice" in The International Journal of Community Music Selected Papers from the
Music and Lifelong Learning Conference and Celebration 8-10 May 2003.

[Victoria Moon Joyce argues] that adults who identify as "non-singers" are in the majority in mainstream North American society and I attribute this to a number of factors: the excluding effects of many music education practices, cultural beliefs around talent and giftedness, the cultural expectation of performance as the primary goal of music making, a lack of recreational singing spaces, the erosion of publicly funded music education, the feminization of singing as a devaluation, the industrialization of entertainment and the subsequent saturation of recorded music and technology which makes music a spectator event rather than a participatory activity. To complicate this, making music in a context of late capitalism means that anybody's cultural practices are up for grabs and exploitable as commodities. Thus, with practices intended to draw people into music making as a normalized lifelong practice, such as multicultural music, there is the danger of inappropriate uses of music of 'Others' – the music and practices of those whose culture and subjectivity is otherwise subordinated and devalued.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 11:58 AM

yup. 'bout sums it up.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 12:04 PM

How sad! - glad I'm not "mainstream North American"!!


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: breezy
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 12:25 PM

Think that applies in England

Not so in Wales, Scotland an Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: DonMeixner
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 12:55 PM

[Victoria Moon Joyce argues] that adults who identify as "non-singers" are in the majority in mainstream North American society and I attribute this to a number of factors: And thats about as far as this statement goes where it is easy to understand.

I am a reasonably well educated man and I can understand words like marginalize and industrialization; I can't always spell them. But because I can read them and understand them doesn't mean I can make sense of them when used in such windbaggery as this. It is very true that many United Statesians don't sing in public and there are many reasons. Probably most reasons are just as Ms. Joyce described. But it could have been stated more clearly.

I do agree with the statement.

Don


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 01:15 PM

I'm glad I ain't mainstream anything; I couldn't imagine not singing.

In situations where normally-socialized human beings ordinarily dance, I prefer to sing whenever possible, except of course in situations where it would clearly be inappropriate. Well, sometimes I'll dance a bit, too ~ if the spirit moves me ~ but I'm much less inhibited about singing than dancing, which is probably opposite to most people's inclinations.

Unbridled singing-along is much more socially acceptable here in New Orleans than anywhere else on this continent, which is probably the single most important reason for my settling here thirty-some-odd years ago.

We're in the midst of jazzfest this week (New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival), so I'm like a pig in slop, just happy as can be ~ music everywhere, day and night, no holds barred!


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Burke
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 02:25 PM

In situations where normally-socialized human beings ordinarily dance

Poppa, is seems to me that dancing is almost as marginalized as singing in general society. I find almost everyone dancing at a contra dance. In a club with music & a dance floor there always seem to be way more watchers and listeners than dancers. Do you really feel free to walk down the sidewalk singing? There are some societies where that's perfectly ordinary.

The article is from a paper presented at an academic meeting. It looks like a summary of the author's dissertation so there is probably too much academic jargon. I noticed some interesting & sad anecdotes.

I see an add for cajungrocer.com at the bottom of the page. Are those products authentic?


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Pauline L
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 02:34 PM

I agree with Don Meixner: Understandable writing is better.

I don't sing because I can't carry a tune. I can tell that I sound awful. I know people who can't carry a tune and yet sing solo in public. I suppose they can't tell that they're butchering a song. I do sing along with others because I can match their notes. I often feel "marginalized" by groups of singers. I lose social contacts that way.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Once Famous
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 02:35 PM

The services at my synagogue resound with music. Many sing and do so with heads held high and with feeling, even though they may not be the greatest at carrying a tune.

People sing in all kinds of religious settings I believe quite freely.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 02:41 PM

We believe it was Utah Phillips who said of the music industry, "They've stolen your music and now they're selling it back to you."

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 02:42 PM

Most people will sing if you get them drunk.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: GUEST,Clint Keller
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 02:51 PM

"the cultural expectation of performance as the primary goal of music making"

Seems to me this is the big one.

Seems to me that folk music is participatory music, whatever else it is.

The last time I worked at a library there was a Chinese girl -- from China -- who had to copy great stacks of paper and she always sang along with the Xerox machine.

It was good, and it's too bad we've lost that kind of thing. People look at you funny if you sing walking down the street or sitting by yourself, and it's time we turned that around.

clint


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Burke
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 02:51 PM

"I don't sing because I can't carry a tune... I do sing along with others because I can match their notes."

Pauline, I think that article is about you. You sound intimidated & performance oriented. If you can match pitches that's singing in tune. Why should you feel otherwise? There are a lot of people who have difficulty staying in tune (same key) when singing solo. If you don't sing a lot, it may just be that you don't really know the tune well enough to do it alone. Singing does not necessarily mean solo singing.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: mack/misophist
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 03:06 PM

Where I live it's common to hear people singing as they walk along. True, they sing along with their headset radios, but they do sing; most of them very badly.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Ernest
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 03:51 PM

Is that about singing in public or in your own private bathroom? ;0)
I think that article summarizes everything correctly, but too academic (which is definetly unfolky). Music has become a business and everything is aiming at a public performance. And much of the music presented won`t encourage people to sing on their own because it requires a musical infrastucture that most people don`t have (i.e. full set of instruments and equipment).
What we need is more of the simple but beautiful folksongs that everybody can do in a reasonable way. Most people don`t know anymore that there are songs they can do. One important issue is to find songs that suit your vocal abilities, not everyone can give a good interpretation of every song. We all know that even professional sngers can`t do every song equally good.
Regards
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Jen M
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 04:40 PM

My mother couldn't even match pitch or rhythm but she sang, I sing constantly as much to my children's dismay, My daughter (studying to be a music teacher ) sings when appropriate but my son refuses to sing. He had the same music education as my daughter, grew up in a family where singing is a family activity, and he can carry a tune, he just won't sing. When he was an infant and I would sing while holding him, he'd put his hand over my mouth until I stopped, perhaps I traumatized him!


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 06:04 PM

At parties I have noticed a variant of Gresham's Law: recorded music drives out live. Now, if people always have the TV on or the radio going or CD's on the stereo, then nobody is going to sing around the house. Talent won't develop, and in time the idea will form that "real singing isn't good enough for this family."

I tell people to sing while they clean up the kitchen. That way nobody will dare complain.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 06:06 PM

It requires a degree of confidence to sing in public, as part of a crowd, effectively and in tune.

I do it more than most, but I still often experience a degree of repression (or something like that) that closes the throat and makes it difficult to hit notes. I think most folks who have that experience "take a hint" and shut up, while those of us who are reluctant to be denied a chance to sing out will make an effort to overcome the initial stiffness and get it on.

Martin's right ~ much of the small amount of group singing that occurs in mainstream America takes place in houses of worship. As corrollary, I would point out that some musical events serve a similar purpose for members of society who don't attend church, or at least for groups that don't all attend the same church together ~ case in point, the communal celebrations centered around the late great Grateful Dead. Certainly, the currently ongoing Jazz & Heritage Festival serves a similar purpose for some of us here in New Orleans, and I'm sure that other local/regional communities have similar celebrations with similarly spiritual communal-singing activities.

Burke: The Cajun Grocer ad is nowhere to be seen now that I'm back on this thread, nd I don't know anything about that business. Those ads change all the time; right now I'm looking at an ad for Cafe du Monde Beignet mix, which is undeniably authentic (sold by the actual purveyor of beignets on Decatur Street across from Jackson Square), but I would not be so sure that what you make at home from the mix will match up to what comes out of the CDM's own deep-fryers.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: PatrickCostello
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 06:26 PM

People don't sing because we've forgotten how to teach.

I work with people of all ages doing banjo and guitar workshops in strip-mall bookstores. Everywhere I go the crowd almost always starts singing along. The "why" of this is a combination of how the music is presented and how the crowd is encouraged- and even cajoled - to join in.

When I was a kid this was how "folk music" was presented. I knew an old Washington Square beatnik who treated singing and teaching other people as part of the "craft" of being a banjo player. The old guitar slingers I knew back then worked pretty much the same way.

The only time you see people feeling awkward is when the person leading the workshop, jam or hoot is a card-carrying phony. I won't name names, but nowadays the average folk-guru is more interested in showing the crowd how well he or she plays (or pretends to play). Part of making that routine work involves convincing anybody in earshot that he or she is the only person capable enough, socially conscious enough and educated enough to run though a group of three chord songs.

If you want people to start singing all you have to do is make them feel welcome, point out that this music is the shared cultural heritage of every person on earth and - this is the biggie - be casual enough about your own image that you won't be afraid to point out how simple making music really is.

Anybody can learn to play. Anybody can learn to sing. "Talent" is nothing but a word. Nobody is born knowing how to play the banjo.

It's our music, but we've let a bunch of sleazy pseudo-intellectuals take it away from us. Taking it back is easy. All you have to do is sing.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 06:28 PM

yes its a strange business all right.

what do you make of these people who go on these pop star programmes who want to be singers, get dressed up like pop singers, weep openly when the man says you'll never make it as a singer.......and theres such a lot of them.

I think thats part of the answer. Voices are so processed on records these days that people are actually confused as to what singing consists of.

They open their mouth and make an approximation of the sighing and whimpering that many pop records sound like - of course without all the reverb, harmonisation, quantising, compression it sounds shit - result amazement because in their minds they sounded like the record.

I think maybe the non-singers think , well at least I'm not as mad as those saddos.

all the best

big al whittle - singer and fantasist


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: GUEST,(Val)
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 06:47 PM

[Victoria Moon Joyce argues] ...And thats about as far as this statement goes where it is easy to understand.

OK, try these paraphrases:

Music ain't being taught in schools much

Where music IS taught (including in the home etc.), it's often taught as something special & exclusive for those with "talent" or "gifts" - not something everyone can do

People feel that if you can't make music at a "professional level" you shouldn't even try

"Everyday singing" has been identified with out-of-date "women's work" and so has no place in a modern society.

People have been conditioned to think of music as a commodity to be consumed, not something that anyone can make for themselves. If everyone did their own singing, the Music Industry couldn't make as much money off of it.

Those who WOULD teach music are afraid to because more and more stuff is getting locked down by copyright claims (the court cases against the Girl Scouts a few years back, for example)

If you DO perform something from your own folk tradition and it's not already covered by copyright, somebody will probably grab it, slap a copyright on it, and sue you for singing your own folk song.

If you peform something from somebody ELSE's folk tradition, they may get upset that you're not properly respecting their heritage.

I think those were the main points.

The main ones I agree with are:

1. that many people have an inflated notion of "how good you have to be before you can sing". Heck, look at many (highly paid) pop stars that can't sing without a studio-full of processing equipment to bring them on-pitch and make them sound good. They lip-sync at "live" performances!

2. the Music Industry has very effectively conditioned people to think of music as a commodity that must be purchased rather than a hobby that anyone can participate in.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Burke
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 07:01 PM

I also sing in church. I'm a soprano but sometimes try to give myself a work out by singing alto, or the tenor up an octave. I know several people who say that's how they learned to sing harmony.

I have sometimes wondered how people who don't have that chance to sing every week. Poppa, your remarks about the festivals is interesting, but a once a year get together does not make singers.

My parents liked musicals so they played those records a lot. I would sing along & my younger sister always complained. I know for a fact she sings along now that she's an adult. One of the cutest things I think I've seen was my 4 or 5 year old niece singing "So long, farewell" with the motions while watching Sound of Music.

My mom was a song leader in Scouts & church school. If our church did not have a choir she organized one. Even so, we did not sing that much at home. I have 2 sisters & I think she could have gotten us singing 3 part harmonies. Her stumbling block was not playing the piano & all 3 of us refusing to learn. I don't think it occurred to her that we could learn by mostly a-cappella with the occasional note check on the piano.

In the days before radio, most American homes had pianos. A lot of people could play, many by ear. Sheet music sold well & people learned all the latest songs. It wasn't traditional music, but it was folks making music. I think people like my mom, who grew up then, couldn't really consider a sing along without a piano.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: ElwynnMaxon
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 09:36 PM

After reading the paragraph this discussion comes from I must agree that it is a bit wordy and long winded. And while it is good of Val to paraphrase why should he or she have to? If something is written as to be unclear without deciphering it, what was the point? If all it takes to impress a board of review or thesis committee is the ability to spill (not spell) ten long words when five simple ones will do tells me I should go for my Doctorate in Verbiosis Innarticulatum.

   But the greater issue of why we Americans don't sing as easily as breathing has been covered well in this forum. All together too many people have told us "You can't sing, so don't try." School rooms no longer have elocution classes. We don't debate. We no longer recite poems in class or as entertainment. People will spend
$1500.00 a piece for really good seats at The Super Bowl but whine about $ 25.00 to sit up front for Martin Carthy or in the back seats for a good local symphony.

   I believe things are the way they are because we as Americans have allowed all the arts to become devalued. We spend so much time in search of employment and staying employed that we are too whipped to find enjoyment unless it is sent to us down a wire. Instead of supporting a community of arts and artists we stay home in the glow of the vacuum tube.

   Good art is hard work but it is hard work that is fun. And because we enjoyed the effort we used to become quite good at singing and painting and playing the banjo. And if we didn't become a Pavorotti or and Eddie Lang we at least had fun. Now we have become lazy with regard to the effort of creating art. And TV, the Internet, and game cubes have taken over the time we once gave to such artistic adventures.

   My Dad blamed the loss of this Great American Sense of Community on the disappearance of front porches. And therby the loss of neighborhoods. I have to agree with him.

Wow, getting a bit wordy myself.

E.M.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 01:39 AM

"Finally, the commercial music industry that prevails in America has imbued us with an artificial attitude toward music. It would have us believe that music is something performed by a select few professionals for the benefit of the majority whose function is that of listening. From a historical perspective, music has not been a service rendered by some individuals to others. Rather it has been a cultlural activity in which everyone could and did participate. Today, in many parts of the country, small groups can be found meeting at regular intervals, usually in a private residence, to share their folk music. If music is to play a significant role in their lives, children must be exposed to the idea of creating their own music rather than playing the passive role of listener."

The above is quoted from an article entitled "Barb'ra Allen, Tom Dooley, and Sweet Betsy from PS42" which appeared in the January, 1984 issue of "Music Educator's Journal".

Modesty prevents us from posting the names of the authors.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 04:20 AM

I don't think a day goes by without me singing at least once..... even if it's just under my breath. I love to do it at work because it really annoys the arrogant, sexist, racist little shit who sits opposite me and demands everyone should conform to his standards and beliefs. He hates folk and rock.

Guess what I sing along to on my MP3 player......

(Oddly enough, I sing to block out his incessant wittering about his standards and beliefs... if he'd only shut up for more than 3 minutes at a time, I'd not need to sing to myself!)

But the thing is... I do it at home too.. I'm humming along to the radio right this minute (Johnny Cash) the house is empty, I'm doing it for my own pleasure and to ease stress. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to stop singing for several months, and they were the unhappiest I've ever known. I joined a choir and consequently felt much better.

It's an innocent pleasure, but because there are so many other noises around in our world (TV, Radio, MP3, Muzak etc.), we feel inhibited and repressed when we sing to ourselves in public - not to mention the possibility we'll get 'put away' as being 'not all there'.....

Social singing is still alive, if not exactly going strong. The problem I've found is that the majority of communal song books I have, do not print the music, just the words. It's a big problem when you don't have anyone who remembers the tunes. Some people seem to be born knowing the tune to 'My old man said follow the van', but does anyone know the tune to the verse that precedes it? Or even that it HAS a verse? Sooner or later, everyone who knows the tune will have passed on, without recording them on any medium, and then the tune will be lost.

I love the DT here. The fact that I can type in a phrase, a word or a title and get the song to match it, is incredible. I only wish they came with musical notation too! If only someone would invent a programme that could print out in musical notation what it reads on a Midi file...... (yes I know it probably does exist but is being withheld so publishers can get their royalties....).

One day I'll write out all the notations for the songs I know.... one day I'll find the tunes for all those songs I have that I can't sing because I don't have a tune.... one day...

LTS


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: JennieG
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 06:34 AM

I have noticed (with much hilarity, I might add) the odd looks I get when I am singing my little heart out in the car while stopped at traffic lights. Most people just grip the wheel tightly and look straight ahead, or converse on their phone - how often do you see someone singing in their car and obviously enjoying themselves?

I also sing in a choir, as well as solo - not the world's best singer, but I enjoy it - and have done since being in school choirs a thousand years ago. At least, unlike my boss, I was never told "just mouth the words, dear!"

Cheers
JennieG


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 06:39 AM

Folks should note that singing has been proved to be of considerable health benefit (assuming you're doing it in a smoke-free room of course) - and that doesn't take account of the social interactions, which bring additional health benefits.

Do it (like sex) as often as you can, and live longer.... and prosper


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 06:54 AM

Dr Jim, can you write me that on a prescription form please?

LTS


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 07:08 AM

Comin' up!


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 07:47 AM

One of the best aspects of walking to the Metro stop (through a residential area) is that I sing the entire way. I sing according to the weather--in good weather, country and western, in mist and rain, Irish, and in real blustery weather, sea chanteys--unless there's something specific I'm trying to memorize. It's great to climb a hill to "Once more we sail with a northerly gale/ Through the ice and wind and rain...."

Lots of people seem to wear Walkmen, carry I-pods etc, but nobody else seems to sing without assistance.

It's 4 long songs or 5 short songs to the subway.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 07:54 AM

I used to sing whilst cycling to work, without the aid of assistance.. it was the only time I had to myself to learn songs... it got so I was known as 'the Singing Cyclist' by the postman whose round coincided with my route to work. When his round got changed, he told his new customers about the singing cyclist and nearly died of shock when I turned up behind him as he told my dad!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Essex Girl
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 08:49 AM

Like Liz I sing every day, either along with a cd in my car (when my son isn't playing heavy metal, he can't stand folk any more)or when I'm gardening or working in the house. Using an MP3 player can prove embarassing, I was trying to learn the words to a couple of songs at work when I realised I was getting some odd looks from the others in the office and realised that I was singing out loud. But I think we are in the minority. Go to a church wedding/christening/funeral and how many people do you hear singing?


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Rapparee
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 09:08 AM

I've had a rotten, miserable, stinking, lousy cold hang on for 5+ weeks (yes, I'm done it all, including the doctor). I can't sing with a damn at the moment. So the songs keep flitting through my head, and when I do try to sing I sound like a hoarse, badly-tuned jet engine.

Normally, I don't sound like that.

But I sing anyway, anywhere I can get away with it (not at work, or at least not much, although sometimes I whistle).

I sing when I drive, whether or not there's a tape or CD in the player.

People who sing in church all too often don't open their mouths and let it out. People who sing to themselves or at home suffer from the same thing. Perhaps it would help if they could be taught to open up and sing.

It's a "joyful sound unto the Lord" in church or not. Heck, it's a joyful sound unto anyone.

Ever notice that kids sing?


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 09:17 AM

George Orwell worked for the BBC during W.W. II. He wrote in his diary on 10 June 1942:

"The only time when one hears people singing in the BBC is in the early morning, between 6 and 8. That is the time when the charwomen are at work. A huge army of them arrives all at the same time, they sit in the reception hall waiting for their brooms to be issued to them and making as much noise as a parrot house, and then they have wonderful choruses, all singing together as they sweep the passages. The place has quite a different atmosphere at this time from what it has later in the day."

I'll bet. I'll also bet that that nothing of the kind happens today. I have read in a book that at about the same date (I was 4 years old then) people sang in neighborhood bars in New York City -- not in paid concerts at fixed times, but when one of the regulars who liked to sing happened in & the crowd asked him for a song & joined in on the choruses. Not any more. In the '60s one could still go to a party, not one specifically organized for the purpose of singing, where singing happened as a matter of course. Now, AFAIK, there is no such thing, even in Boston.

Mass entertainment, may its name be blotted out, has noticeably tightened its grip in my lifetime.

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: Piss and fart, Sound at heart. :||


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: ranger1
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 09:47 AM

I used to sing a lot when I was little, then someone told me I couldn't sing and I clammed up for the next 25 years in public. But I still sang in the shower, along to music playing on whatever medium I had going, concerts and in the car. I don't have even a radio in my car, so on long trips I had to have something to keep me sane. Then I got involved with some Mudcatters and now go regularly to song circles. I'm still pretty shy about singing in groups, but I'm doing it. And you never know, I might just someday spontaneously burst into song in public for no reason whatsoever!


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 11:49 AM

thats a sad tale ranger1. saying nasty stuff like that is the sort of thing I did when I was a kid. I was a swine, I should have been chained up.

don't you have friendly folk clubs round your way where you can have a sing?


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Moses
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 12:09 PM

Ranger 1,

I too spent much of my life singing only in private. Ex-husband used to ask if I had a headache if he overheard me (guess why he's Ex).

Then I re-found Herga Folk Club about 12 years ago (I'd been a chorus-singer-only member back in the 60's)where I found a warm welcome from the very talented residents who encouraged me to sing What! on my OWN?? No safety net!!), and kept on encouraging.

I'm now confident enough to actually look forward to my turn in a sing-around and enjoy being one of the residents of Windward and Spotlight clubs.

Point being - you've made a good start. Singing in public gets easier the more you do it and the more you do it in private (learning songs so you can sing them backwards), the easier it becomes in public.

The main thing is - enjoy. Private or public, enjoy making music. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 12:30 PM

I was extremely lucky.. I got the opposite. I was told when I was 8 that I 'make more noise than that in the playground, go on, sing out loud' so I did and nearly deafened the teacher (Mrs Sonia Hewitt, Welsh by birth and inclination) who promptly put me in the choir. Joined the local church choir a year later and that was it.. been in a choir almost continously since then.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 01:30 PM

A young man I know who just got back from a backpacking trip to Thailand and Burma (Myanmar) told me that one day the group was resting in the shade alongside the road when what appeared to be a family group - adults and children - came peddling along on bicycles, all of them singing. He and his peers were in wonderment about it.

leenia, you said that recorded music drives out live I hadn't thought about it but I do believe that the people I know who constantly have radio or television running in the background are the same people who tell me that they don't sing. There could be several differing reasons for that, I suppose. 1) Perhaps when there is music already playing, it is hard to sing a different song, or even to think of a different tune. 2) Or perhaps the people who think they can't sing are the people who have the music in the background.

People like me who can't have music playing in the background may be more common than I thought. When I have a CD playing, I have to listen. And when I have to think something out or have to decipher written instructions of assembly, the music has to be OFF. (Although that may be because I was not exposed to recorded music at an early age.)

Ron Davies: "It's 4 long songs or 5 short songs to the subway." What a great image!


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: coldjam
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 01:56 PM

I was also discouraged from singing when I was in grade school, even though I would often sing at the top of my lumgs at home. When I sang in chorus some nasty little girls would snigger and point when a bad note was hit, even if it wasn't me! Then, as a teen, my mother's friend heard some of us girls singing and suggested we open a coffee house, and kindly added I could serve the coffee! Well, it took my husband 20 years to get me to sing in front of him because of all that, and now people pay us to sing. So freakin' there!

Young people hesitate to sing because they don't want to be uncool in front of their peers. The "industry" standard (yeah, right) has them believing if they don't have 6 squating scantily clad dancers behind them, and vocal augmentation they ain't cool.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: PoppaGator
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 01:59 PM

So many eloquent contributions to this discussion! I'm really enjoying my reading as I check in once or twice a day.

Imagine how great it'd sound if we could all be singing together!


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Pauline L
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 02:35 PM

Ron Davies, I can just imagine you singing while walking up that long, steep hill. I admire you. Just walking up the hill requires a lot of aerobic capacity, and you still have enough breath to sing. Wow!

Dr. Guest, Jim, I want a prescription from you, too.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 04:39 PM

Poppagator, that's the kind of overwhelming feeling I got from last year's Getaway at Camp Ramblewood. All those people singing together and by the time the first chorus was sung there were harmonies and counterharmonies that made this dense bed of sound I could just sink into- I absolutely loved it. Part of that was due to the people from the Folklore Society of Greater Washingon (Do I have that right?)- they sing together a great deal and they form a bedrock of song that others build on and it is wonderful.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 05:01 PM

There is nothing on earth like the feeling you get when you sing the verse of a song and then, like magic, 10+ voices join in with the chorus in harmony..... unless it's that moment of silence when you've just finished singing, before the audience breaks out of its spell and starts to applaud.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: frogprince
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 05:07 PM

I was informed early on that my sister had inheritated my father's ability to sing, and I had inherited my mother's inability. There was some truth to that, but not enough to justify a good 40 years of my not really trying, singing only in a church congregation or large group settings. I won't say I'm good now, and I don't know that I'll ever get on stage, but I sing more now than I did, and my wife at least puts up with it graciously. "Let there be songs; let them be sung".


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Naemanson
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 05:27 PM

Here in Guam it isn't unusual to see groups of people sitting in the shade passing a guitar around. Ukeleles are common also. Even some local rock bands set up in a beach side pavilion to rehearse.

Unfortunately whenever they have a party here they hire a DJ with amplifiers snd speakers. The music is so loud that it makes any other music impossible. I wonder that people can talk in such an environment. When I go to those parties I take my food and drink as far from the pavilion as I can get and still be in the party. I generally am not alone.

We have one band on the island that I would classify as professional folk (kinda). They draw small audiences who have no problem singing along.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Frankham
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 05:57 PM

i believe that singing is one of the most intimate and personl things a person can do and as a result it requires great courage to sing in public.

It says a lot about who you are as a person and reveals things about you that you might not want to share otherwise.

The interesting thing about a song though is that when it connects with the person who sings it, it comes alive and reveals the truth about that person.
When we hear a singer we want to know who the singer is.

I've noticed that those who censure singing in others are usually feeling that they can't sing themselves and don't want others to.

i think this is a very important thread because it goes to the heart of what folk music is. Without a song sung there can be no folk music even if instrumentals are being played, we respond to the singing of those instruments. A musician whether they have a good voice or not is required to sing in order to express the music. Ear training is predicated on singing. It's the speaking of the musical language.

The reasons for a communal inhibition against singing is that it is often besides being too revealing about a person's emotion, a discrediting of emotional expression by an increasingly growing impersonal society. It also is a by-product of spectator sports. We don't see sandlot baseball being played much these days. People would rather sit in front of American Idol or a football game on TV then be out there practicing it themselves.

Society (ours in America in particular) needs to give permission and encouragement to people who like to sing. This is why Pete Seeger is such an important figure in the folk revival. He elicits the voices in his audience and magically has them take part in his music.

I believe we need to become more accepting of all different kinds of voices and not allow prejudices to interfere with the varied vocal qualities. We need to be able to be receptive to the stridency of the outdoor voices of traditional folk music as well as the acceptable voice that has been somewhat trained.
Even opera is an acquired taste.

In the African-American community, singing is a communal experience which may explain the rise of many vocalists in pop music coming from black people.
They don't shy away from emotionalism and communication outside of their religious environments. Rap and Do-wop started here on street corners.

In European, African and Asian societies, there doesn't seem to be the same constraints that we find here in America. Maybe it's because there is a connection between a definable musical culture and the people that is often obscured in America.

In the Irish, Welsh and other Celtic cultures and , singing is revered as an expression of nationalism as well as personal. So in America, we squelch communal singing by offering our national anthem which is a convoluted English drinking song, Anachreon in Heaven, which was to become the Star Spangled Banner that defies the vocal range of almost everyone. Thank goodness for American the Beautiful and This Land Is Your Land. Even God Bless America (although it has a stigma that I believe is underserved since Irving Berlin is one of our very best songwriters).

We must encourage people to sing whether they have trained voices or not.
In order to do this, we have to allow people to express their deeply felt personal emotions without censoring them.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: GUEST,Skipy
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 05:58 PM

A lot of you seem to be missing a very simple point here!
Some of don't sing because we simply can't sing!
Skipy


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: Burke
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 06:13 PM

Skipy, the point is, that in cultures where there is a lot of singing there are very few who cannot sing. This is because as children they get a lot more practice with pitch matching. Instead of being told to be quiet & not sing some adult may work with them & help them learn. Young men get help over the adolescent voice change.

If you really cannot sing, it is hard to learn as an adult. Like anything if you really want to, you probably can with help. (This is not to say you should. You might not have the motivation, time, energy, etc. to do it now.) Look at how many of the earlier messages are from people who thought they could not sing & have discovered otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Why folk don't sing
From: LilyFestre
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 06:20 PM

I love to sing....at home or in the car. I'm not big on singing around anyone besides my family and then it's usually not a conscious thing. If I don't know the words, I make them up or skip 'em all together. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE to sing to the newborn twins....yep...love it.

LF


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