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I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers

MGM·Lion 04 Jun 16 - 09:07 AM
brashley46 03 Jun 16 - 11:50 PM
Janie 03 Jun 16 - 08:38 PM
MGM·Lion 03 Jun 16 - 07:40 AM
Teribus 03 Jun 16 - 04:07 AM
leeneia 03 Jun 16 - 12:31 AM
GUEST,HiLo 02 Jun 16 - 06:47 PM
andrew e 02 Jun 16 - 06:20 PM
RTim 02 Jun 16 - 12:26 PM
Will Fly 02 Jun 16 - 08:01 AM
GUEST,HiLo 02 Jun 16 - 02:05 AM
Helen 02 Jun 16 - 12:38 AM
Steve Shaw 01 Jun 16 - 08:37 PM
Helen 01 Jun 16 - 07:20 PM
Steve Shaw 01 Jun 16 - 07:04 PM
GUEST,HiLo 01 Jun 16 - 06:51 PM
Helen 01 Jun 16 - 05:34 PM
MickyMan 01 Jun 16 - 04:26 PM
Will Fly 01 Jun 16 - 06:03 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 01 Jun 16 - 05:48 AM
keberoxu 31 May 16 - 10:01 AM
Padre 31 May 16 - 09:21 AM
Steve Shaw 31 May 16 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,HiLo 31 May 16 - 06:33 AM
Steve Shaw 31 May 16 - 04:30 AM
Will Fly 31 May 16 - 04:21 AM
Jim Carroll 31 May 16 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,HiLo 31 May 16 - 02:53 AM
Helen 31 May 16 - 02:43 AM
Helen 31 May 16 - 02:40 AM
Dave Hanson 31 May 16 - 02:34 AM
Joe Offer 30 May 16 - 11:22 PM
Padre 30 May 16 - 10:05 PM
Mark Ross 30 May 16 - 08:47 PM
CupOfTea 30 May 16 - 08:41 PM
gillymor 30 May 16 - 07:14 PM
Gurney 30 May 16 - 06:01 PM
Steve Shaw 30 May 16 - 05:30 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 30 May 16 - 04:55 PM
keberoxu 30 May 16 - 03:56 PM
Helen 30 May 16 - 03:39 PM
meself 30 May 16 - 03:37 PM
keberoxu 30 May 16 - 02:46 PM
Janie 31 Jan 11 - 11:44 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 31 Jan 11 - 07:15 PM
Don Firth 31 Jan 11 - 05:24 PM
RTim 31 Jan 11 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,Grishka 31 Jan 11 - 04:28 PM
Don Firth 31 Jan 11 - 02:30 PM
Old Vermin 31 Jan 11 - 03:35 AM
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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Jun 16 - 09:07 AM

Niles was also an inveterate 'improver' -- ie one who thought that a song shouldn't sound the way it did, but would sound better when he had wrecked it with officious rewriting to his inappropriate classical tastes. Is there anything worse than his portentous version of the beautiful "Black is the Color" [see the version in Sharp's "Appalachians"]? - Tho it must be admitted that some of his originals, like Venezuela & Go From My Window are pretty good songs in themselves.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: brashley46
Date: 03 Jun 16 - 11:50 PM

It strikes me that the worst voice I have ever heard singing folk songs on record belonged to John Jacob Niles. He was classically trained, but I do not think the training was responsible for the voice.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Janie
Date: 03 Jun 16 - 08:38 PM

More often indirectly than directly, reading music threads on Mudcat has taught me to appreciate, value, and give credit to music and voices that don't particularly appeal to me. This thread was/is part of that education. I will probably never buy an album of an opera performance or of a classical singer. Doesn't mean anything about the quality or talent of the musicians and singers. Just means they are not to my taste.

Will say that when I was in elementary school, the music 'enrichment' portion of the weekly lessons generally consisted of lps of classically trained musicians and singers performing folk songs in a manner that belied they were folk songs. Old Dan Tucker, Sweet Betsy From Pike, etc. Bad choices for grade school kids.

Padre, all these years of reading your posts on Mudcat and somehow I missed that we are from the same place - or perhaps have forgotten. Lots of good country was around on local TV and radio in the 1950's and early 60's, including Sleepy and Magic Valley.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Jun 16 - 07:40 AM

A separate problem I think, tho, Teribus. I once OPd a thread on that very topic, called 'Midatlantic accent: why?' which iirc ran for quite a while -- Nov 10-Jan 14, I find on checking.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Teribus
Date: 03 Jun 16 - 04:07 AM

No problem listening to classically trained singers, the thing I absolutely detest listening to are people from the eastern side of the pond who feel that they have to sing in phoney American or what they call Mid-Atlantic accents.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: leeneia
Date: 03 Jun 16 - 12:31 AM

For many years my only exposure to opera came from the Sunday afternoon broadcast on a classical music radio station. I didn't care for it.

But in the last few years I have been going to actual operas, and seeing the singers moving, acting, dancing and wearing costumes has changed my view. Live opera is not just about singing - it is a spectacle.

Also, attending the opera has made me appreciate the skill and physical fitness which enable a singer to sing an entire show of difficult music and produce a last note which is as good as the first note.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 02 Jun 16 - 06:47 PM

I have not heard of that Andrew. Can you give an example, I would be interested to know of this !


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: andrew e
Date: 02 Jun 16 - 06:20 PM

What about children who have been taught to sound like a 40 year old opera singers.
I just have to turn off immediately!


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: RTim
Date: 02 Jun 16 - 12:26 PM

Remember - the opposite of Love is Not Hate - it is Indifference!!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Jun 16 - 08:01 AM

Steven Rickard, the alto voice on the YouTube clip, is a superb singer - and the sound is perfectly in tune with the music of the period.

If you don't like him, then you almost certainly won't like Alfred Deller, counter-tenor, and another superb singer who, almost single-handedly and with the Deller Consort, reintroduced the counter-tenor voice to English music.

It's good stuff and - to my mind - has more feeling and lyricism than any attempts by Gordon Sumner to reinterpret it.

All personal taste, of course.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 02 Jun 16 - 02:05 AM

Well Helen, I have already stated my views on Stings album, I loathe it. as for the singer you refer to as "that high voiced twat" , It is more in tune, literally and figuratively, with Dowland than Sting is.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Helen
Date: 02 Jun 16 - 12:38 AM

Steve, I like some of what Sting does, some of it I don't like so much. My main point is, if you were stuck on a desert island with only two musical performers: the high-voiced, classically trained singer like the one on the YouTube clip, and Sting playing the lute and singing Dowland's songs: which music would you listen to?


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 08:37 PM

Eek. A Sting fan! Apologies, Helen!


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Helen
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 07:20 PM

Yeah, thanks Steve Shaw, for that in-depth, intellectual, highly technical analysis. LOL

So HiLo, would you rather listen to that high-voiced twat on the YouTube video? If it's a choice between Sting or that, I'd choose Sting, and as far as I can see there are not many other choices.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 07:04 PM

In other words, Sting is a bit of an up-his-own-'arris twat. Hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 06:51 PM

Helen, I love Alan Stivell, wonderful music, played with heart and skill. but Sting just does not "get" Dowland and he may love it, but he plays it badly, very badly ,and I feel that, in spite of his huge talents in other genres, he just does not have the skill or the understanding to play it well. I too try to imagine who might have sung it " way back Then". it would not, I think, have been someone with Sting,s obvious limitations! Just my thoughts!


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Helen
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 05:34 PM

HiLo,

I'd rather hear Sting performing Dowland than that high voiced man who appears to be the only other option

Thomas Campion - I Care Not For These Ladies

I like to imagine what the original performances would have been like way back then, and that singer is not what I imagine.

I was listening to Alan Stivell yesterday and the way he performs some songs with just one or two instruments as accompaniment seems to me to be more like the original Elizabethan performance would have been, I think.

Alan Stivell - Silvestrig

Alan Stivell - Sally Free and Easy

Helen


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: MickyMan
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 04:26 PM

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to see some Wagner opera performed by one of the best companies in the world. I have a formal music degree and I have played in the pit for operas, but I must say that those voices are a stretch for me to take for a long time. On the other hand, I have problems with lots of styles of singing if they go on for a while.   I LOVE good hardcore Bluegrass, but after about 45 minutes I tire of the "high lonesome sound" in much the same way. The same thing happens after a few Led Zeppelin albums.   Contrary to many of the people earlier, I abhor the way Judy Collins' voice made milk toast out of authentic sounding American Folk Music.
       I'm reminded of a great line I once heard from a wonderful folkie (His name escapes me right now.) He said, "We like to think that we play Country Music ..... and we like to think that a lot of other people don't."


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 06:03 AM

I think they sound "mannered" (I know what you mean) because we're not always familiar with the mannered tradition in which they sing and perform. It's perhaps a bit like looking through a window at it, rather than being inside the room with it.

I also dislike opera being translated, from the original language for which the music was written, into another language. The rhythms and cadences of the language would have gone more or less hand in hand with the the musical phrasing. I have an old 78rpm recording of Webster Booth (of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth fame) singing the "Flower Song" from Carmen, with "Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen" ("Che Gelida Manina") from La Boheme on the B side. He had a great voice - but they just don't have the same feeling as when sung in the original languages.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 05:48 AM

Well, a lot of opera singers sound terribly "mannered".
I was brought up on Mario Lanza but, now, his delivery sounds artificial and even eccentric.
I do like Andrea Bocelli, as his delivery seems a lot more "natural" than is usual with classically trained singers.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: keberoxu
Date: 31 May 16 - 10:01 AM

Joe Offer's comparison of Máire Ní Scolaí with Paul Robeson is apt, I would add contralto Marian Anderson as well. Ms. Anderson, within this rather dignified, restrained convention of singing, actually did switch between spirituals and the German Lied with distinction. And she sang Schubert's "Der Tod und das Mädchen" as if she owned it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbH1w_c_rxo


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Padre
Date: 31 May 16 - 09:21 AM

Several of the comments here are less about the 'sound of classically trained singers' and more about the librettists who wrote for the operatic tastes of their time.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 31 May 16 - 08:57 AM

Terrible. I'm getting depressed just thinking about it. I took it to the charity shop, which, on reflection, was a very uncharitable thing to do.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 31 May 16 - 06:33 AM

Do you mean the one by the Chieftans ? No, I didn'T buy that . Bad, is it ?


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 31 May 16 - 04:30 AM

Well, HiLo, clearly you're not one of those unfortunates who bought Long Black Veil...


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Will Fly
Date: 31 May 16 - 04:21 AM

All music operates within certain tacitly or overtly agreed conventions - from the early country music of Jimmie Rodgers to Schubert's Lieder. I don't see any problem in liking more than one of them. I can enjoy Tex Williams' "Smoke That Cigarette" and then switch quite happily to Janet Baker singing "Che Farò Senza Euridice". No problem there - both styles have a huge amount of pleasure to offer in very different ways. The pleasure is enhanced if you take the trouble to dig into the convention to see what makes it tick.

When I was a regular attendee at classical productions in my years in London, I regularly borrowed scores from my branch of the Westminster music libraries - mainly the mini, pocket editions - and gave them a good read through to get acquainted with the music as written before going out to the theatre or concert hall. Very useful and very informative to see it all written out.

However, the problem, as set out in this thread, appears to be the "crossover" of performers from one genre trying their hand at another genre - which I commented on much further up the thread about 5 years ago! I also think it's very rare that it works - simply because the disciplines are usually very different and take years of working at them. So - Pavarotti singing with John Denver doesn't cut it for me. Marks for trying, but that's about it.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 May 16 - 03:55 AM

It's always struck me that classically trained singing can, if well done, by extremely beautiful when regarded as music - as singing, they are more often than not nonsensical - try talking through some of the libretto some time.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 31 May 16 - 02:53 AM

Sting doing John Dowland and playing the lute ( badly) is an absolute travesty and a disservice to Dowland. I t is the only cd I have ever purchased where I can find no redeeming feature....sorry to be so negative but is it truly dreadful. I do like and admire much of Stings music and I respect his desire to branch out, but one must be aware of one's limitations , yes ?


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Helen
Date: 31 May 16 - 02:43 AM

"Nice Puccini, gillymor" - not Dave Hansen, in case I have totally confused you all.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Helen
Date: 31 May 16 - 02:40 AM

Nice Puccini, Dave!

I bought a book way back in the mid-70's I think, called The Elizabethan Song Book: Lute Songs , edited by W.H.Auden, Chester Kallman and Noah Greenberg. It has short songs written for lute by Thomas Campion, John Dowland, etc. The songs are more like folk songs than classical songs, and some of them are beautiful.

A couple of years after I bought the book I heard that there was going to be a performance on the radio of some of the songs so I stayed home and listened to it. This was pre-internet, pre-YouTube, even pre me, a poor student, even owning a cassette radio that I could tape the show with.

Boy, was I disappointed in that performance! I was speechless. It was performed in that overdone classical style, which in my opinion was totally opposite to the style of the songs themselves. I am not quite sure whether this is the correct term but someone mentioned "bel canto" above.

I have never heard other people performing the songs until I heard Sting singing some of the John Dowland songs and accompanying the songs on the lute. I think his style suits the songs a lot better.

This morning I found a lovely choral version of Never Weather-beaten Sail - Thomas Campion on YouTube, so it must be time to do some more Googling so that I can finally purge that bitter disappointment out of my soul from 40 years ago.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 31 May 16 - 02:34 AM

Martin Carthy summed it up for me in a radio interview a long time ago, he remarked that Luciano Pavarotti has got a god given voice and Bob Dylan hasn't, but I'd rather listen to Dylan because I can believe what he is singing.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 May 16 - 11:22 PM

I think many of us are not as taken aback by "classically trained" singers as one might think. I found three YouTube recordings by Máire Ní Scolaí here:I like them just fine, although I might like some of the "folkier" singers better. But the performances of Máire Ní Scolaí remind me of Paul Robeson, and that ain't bad.

On the other hand, there are some overdone, classical-style performances of folk songs that drive me batty. Some Mudcatters I love dearly, have personal or family relationships with singers I hate for their classical style, so maybe I shouldn't name names.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Padre
Date: 30 May 16 - 10:05 PM

I grew up in Charleston, W.Va. listening to the "Magic Valley Jamboree" hosted by Sleepy Jeffers every day from 4-5 PM. Old style country and western music both live and recorded. But on Saturday afternoons, I listened to the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. I recognize the differences between the two genres. Like many other commenters, I do not like the over-done singing of folk songs by classically trained musicians using the techniques of their classical training. It sounds forced and unauthentic.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Mark Ross
Date: 30 May 16 - 08:47 PM

When I ran the soundboard at The Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village in the late '60's, we had Ed McCurdy in for a week or two. He would do this bit imitating a classically trained bel canto baritone singing a folk song that would have the audience rolling on the floor.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: CupOfTea
Date: 30 May 16 - 08:41 PM

I saw this thread title, and my gut reaction was, OH YEAH- with a specific cantor at church in mind, But thinking it through, it is a particular mannered, affected, artificial sound that repulsed me, and many classically trained have the taste to avoid that style of singing when not appropriate.

Earlier mentions of Rhiannon Giddens' fine singing is a prime example of a conservatory training (Oberlin) augmented with traditional folk apprenticeship. Ya ever hear her sing Gaelic? Grand she is at that as well. I think that if operatic power, passion and projection can be funneled through a folk sensibility, we'd all be richer, both classical and folk facets.

Possibly the most profound, hair raising rendition of a folk song that I experienced live was delivered by operatic baritone Ben Luxon, while performing with Bill Crofut as "two Gentlemen Folk," in singing the Irish version of "Johnny I Hardly Knew You" - when he got to the line " you haven't an eye, you haven't a leg..." EVERY SINGLE hair on my body stood on end. He did it singing plain, but with power, no vocal pyrotechnics.

It goes back to the ethos of the singer: what is paramount, the singer or the song?

Joanne in Cleveland ( who wishes some singers came with a control knob to dial down the overdone vibrato)


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: gillymor
Date: 30 May 16 - 07:14 PM

I can tolerate this :)


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Gurney
Date: 30 May 16 - 06:01 PM

Like so many here, I'm not so pronounced in my dislikes, nowadays. Earlier in life, I found the vibrato that classically trained singers affect to be very irritating, and the more vibrato, the more irritating. All classically trained singers do it.
Another irritation was with singers who didn't hit the note, but groped or slid up or down until they reached it. Like Doris Day among others.

Nowadays, Sarah Brightman and Doris Day are among my favourite recording artists.

Maybe it is because Her Indoors likes Country, Showbands, and Opera, and I like Jazz, Blues, and Folk. Exposure to, you see.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 30 May 16 - 05:30 PM

Have a listen to the singing of Emma Kirkby or Dawn Upshaw. That should cure any prejudice against classical singers.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 30 May 16 - 04:55 PM

A post (way early on) mentioned the late Scottish tenor Kenneth McKellar, who was originally in forestry work before committing to classical voice training. An expert critic pronounced him the best singer of Handel's repertoire, and there are examples on YouTube (find Ombre ma Fui?) to convince. However, as far as I know, he never had much of an opera career other than recording material -- though I'm willing to be corrected,

But he also had a long career based on his sensitive interpretations of Scots song (Burns in particular, but also a repertoire that even veered towards the music hall, with some of his own self-penned comic songs). He had a series of television programmes over many years which promoted a real variety of musical styles, and he was pleasing in everything he attempted IMO.

The main point I want to make is that he had a truly musical voice with great technique which never got in the way of communication -- an instinctive sense of the importance of the words, a very natural and clear vowel sound, and a real warmth.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: keberoxu
Date: 30 May 16 - 03:56 PM

Margaret Marshall, soprano, I believe.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Helen
Date: 30 May 16 - 03:39 PM

I haven't read the thread yet, and some classically trained singers do annoy me, but this one is, as you say keberoxu, a gift from God.

Vivaldi - Gloria RV589 - VI.Domine Deus rex coelestis

I'll have to look up the credits on the CD to find the singer's name.

I want this played at my funeral.

I have the whole collection of Vivaldi's Complete Sacred Choral works. I love almost all of it. This collection is brilliant.

Helen


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: meself
Date: 30 May 16 - 03:37 PM

Well, yeah ... it IS a folk-music site ... !


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: keberoxu
Date: 30 May 16 - 02:46 PM

You all can ignore this post if you like. I'm just having a tiny pity-party here.

My training is classical, my instrument was piano, and I accompanied singers and students of singers. I hate a badly executed classical-singing sound even worse than the rest of you. I love it when it is done correctly, but my idea of correct might be different than that of the singing teachers whose students I used to play piano for.

I'm feeling sorry for me wee self today because:
I just discovered the recordings of Mary Anne Gabriel Scully, better known as Máire Ní Scolaí, and this is an exceptional discovery. The contralto voice, first of all, is a gift from God, I mean hers is. She got the right teacher, secondly, who got her to use her voice in the way that would keep her voice intact, effective, and strong for the maximum amount of time -- and, believe me, as an accompanist, I have heard far too many singing students who fell into the hands of teachers who fail to teach that much correctly.

And who is around to appreciate my discovery? Really, I want to play these recordings for anybody who would listen....only to hear "God I hate it when the lady sings that way."

I'll probably have to keep my happiness to myself instead. Okay, I'm done.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Janie
Date: 31 Jan 11 - 11:44 PM

Much of the discussion here is over my head, making me recognize how very ignorant I am.

I'm learning a lot.

Thanks y'all!


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 31 Jan 11 - 07:15 PM

For Guest, Doc John (if you're still around)---

As to the PPS in your original post, you needn't be concerned about the Philistines. They have been, and continue to be, rehabilitated by Israeli archaeolgists, Trude & (the late) Moshe Dothan, and those who have worked with them. That maligned peoples turn out not to be philistine in our current sense of the word, but a quite advanced culture of the second millenium BCE, along the Canaanite coast.

There is much material available on the internet accessible for the layman.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Jan 11 - 05:24 PM

Coffee all over my screen!!

Thanks, Tim! That's a keeper!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: RTim
Date: 31 Jan 11 - 04:40 PM

When Caruso went to his first voice teacher he said:
   "Who sent you to me God?"

When I went to my first voice teacher he said:
   "God, who sent you to me?!?!?!?!"

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 31 Jan 11 - 04:28 PM

Good teachers will tell you that words do matter, as pronounced and interpreted by the singer. Opera audiences have acquired a feeling for the languages being sung, even if they don't know the meaning of every word and are thus grateful for the "supratitles" as well.

Old Vermin, perhaps your teacher told you to pronounce the vowels in a way that they do not differ from each other more than necessary. This makes for a more consistent sound, so that the melody is presented as a unit, as if from an instrument. For the same reason, teachers will tell you to blend the registers of your voice. Both ideals apply to opera, lied, and (European) folk song alike, with the exception of yodelling. The best folk singers follow them without anyone noticing.

Both Pavarotti and Domingo, by the way, interpreted the folklore of their countries in perfect taste. In other cultural contexts they were not quite as successful, artistically.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Jan 11 - 02:30 PM

Old Vermin, I most definitely agree with what you said. But—about classical training, if I understand you correctly. . . .

I have never—ever—had one of my voice teachers tell me that the words don't matter. In fact, Mrs. Bianchi used to emphasis clear, crisp enunciation, "especially for the ballads you want to sing."

"They're stories," she went on to say, "and it's especially important that your listeners understand what you're singing."

George Street had me bring my guitar to the lessons. After we had spent some time on exercises and vocal technique, he would have me sing whatever song I happened to be learning and working on at the time. He would often stop me in mid-song and ask me, "What does that line mean?" He knew perfectly well, but he wanted to be sure that I knew, and was not singing it merely by rote.

And I have run into more than one singer of folk songs who, when pinned down, didn't know what the hell he or she was singing about!

I would often hear voice students at the University of Washington School of Music and the Cornish College of the Arts practicing enunciation exercises. The Cornish voice teachers used to pass out a small booklet of enunciation exercises to their pupils. Although I was taking from an outside teacher at the time (Mr. Street), I managed to score a copy of it. And still use it.

No, whether it is a border ballad or an operatic aria, the words are important.

Don Firth

P. S. The management of Seattle Opera considers the words sufficiently important that when the opera being presented is in Italian, French, German, or whatever, they project "supratitles" (like thesubtitles in a foreign movie) on a horizontal panel just below the proscenium above the stage. This, in addition to printing a synopsis of the plot in the program. I understand that this has become standard practice in opera houses all over the country.


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Subject: RE: I Hate the Sound..of 'classically trained' singers
From: Old Vermin
Date: 31 Jan 11 - 03:35 AM

From: Will Fly - PM - Date: 23 Jan 11 - 05:12 AM

"I'm always rather wary of blanket pronouncements ... "I dislike all Volvos", etc. Such pronouncements seem a little simplistic, on the whole, "

One person's simplistic is another's pragmatic? There's material for a BS thread on the attributes of drivers of particular makes of car - locally the more 'sporting' Audi seems to have supplanted the BMW as the car of choice for the aggressive moneyed sociopath.

As for classical training - was decades ago told to lose the "dreadful folk habit" of trying to make the words matter... and crossly told to relax ... Adult Education tutor employed by the Local Authority.


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