Mudcat Café message #2045536 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #64600   Message #2045536
Posted By: Stringsinger
07-May-07 - 06:02 PM
Thread Name: Falsetto
Subject: RE: Falsetto
Jerry, I think you are right. The style of singing for mountain type music requires a hard edge to the voice not unlike the women who sing in Bulgaria. With this extreme use of the voice which almost shouts, it's unlikely that the people in that style of singing could get to a falsetto. A yodel, maybe, but not a falsetto. You won't hear it in shape-note singing. It has something to do with the way the voice is used but also the way the vocal mechanism is constructed. You do hear falsetto in African music quite a bit. Almeda Riddle uses her voice in an Appalachian style that approximate a yodel at the end of each phrase. John Jacob Niles attempted a kind of falsetto in his singing style but I think this is atypical of the mountain styles. Bluegrass singing requires that "hard edge" that they call the "high lonesome sound". Black musicians use it all the time.

As to the application of African-American influences on Anglo-American styles, bluegrass is fraught with blues licks and simple jazzy based chord progressions. White folks did not invent jazz. Bill Monroe said that he learned from a black blues player. I think Uncle Pen. Doc Boggs sang in a style that approximated a blues style but was his own. It also went the other way too. "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" was originally a so-called "white spiritual" and was modified by black gospel singers. Uncle Dave Macon was influenced by the Minstrel Show tradition, although it was mainly whites in blackface, there were black performers who "corked up" as well. The influence of plantation banjo and fiddle players were responsible for the white show business performers who took their style onto the stage. Many of the fiddle tunes in the string band of Appalachia were originated in the Minstrel Show.

Frank Hamilton