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The importance of Source Singers

The Sandman 01 Apr 20 - 08:14 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Apr 20 - 05:11 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 01 Apr 20 - 04:48 AM
r.padgett 01 Apr 20 - 04:21 AM
The Sandman 01 Apr 20 - 03:10 AM
r.padgett 31 Mar 20 - 04:35 PM
The Sandman 30 Mar 20 - 03:27 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Mar 20 - 02:25 PM
The Sandman 30 Mar 20 - 12:58 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Mar 20 - 10:46 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 30 Mar 20 - 10:28 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Mar 20 - 09:53 AM
The Sandman 30 Mar 20 - 09:03 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Mar 20 - 08:22 AM
r.padgett 30 Mar 20 - 07:14 AM
GUEST,Derrick 30 Mar 20 - 07:11 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Mar 20 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 30 Mar 20 - 06:04 AM
GUEST 30 Mar 20 - 06:03 AM
The Sandman 30 Mar 20 - 04:57 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Mar 20 - 04:36 AM
r.padgett 30 Mar 20 - 03:33 AM
The Sandman 29 Mar 20 - 03:06 PM
r.padgett 29 Mar 20 - 11:20 AM
Jim Carroll 29 Mar 20 - 09:59 AM
GUEST,crumbly 29 Mar 20 - 09:00 AM
The Sandman 27 Mar 20 - 06:00 AM
The Sandman 26 Mar 20 - 05:05 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Mar 20 - 04:43 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Mar 20 - 04:41 AM
The Sandman 26 Mar 20 - 04:27 AM
The Sandman 26 Mar 20 - 04:14 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Mar 20 - 04:09 AM
The Sandman 25 Mar 20 - 06:19 PM
r.padgett 25 Mar 20 - 05:09 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 25 Mar 20 - 11:18 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 20 - 11:02 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 25 Mar 20 - 10:42 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 20 - 07:41 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 20 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 25 Mar 20 - 06:49 AM
r.padgett 24 Mar 20 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,Cj 24 Mar 20 - 04:04 PM
Jim Carroll 24 Mar 20 - 09:36 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Mar 20 - 06:29 AM
The Sandman 24 Mar 20 - 03:35 AM
Vic Smith 23 Mar 20 - 10:00 AM
Howard Jones 23 Mar 20 - 09:10 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Mar 20 - 06:17 AM
GUEST 23 Mar 20 - 05:32 AM
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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Apr 20 - 08:14 AM

thankyou Jim C, That was exactly what i was trying to refer to, it is the same as far as i am concerned with musical instruments, practice is required.
Jim Bainbridge, I was not saying that you had any problems as far as i am concerned my voice is something i want to keep in as a good a condition as i can , and i think that i can improve by working on my voice,


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Apr 20 - 05:11 AM

Classical singers are trained to sing classically Jim, their teachers incariably disappoove of the natural open tone required to
I and a think Dick are referring to keeping your voice in good order so then you can learn to use and extend it
Unfortunately most singers don't, we tend to restrict ourselves to our comfort zones, as a result, our singing can become samey = boring
If we aspire to a wide repertoire - we have to put in the necessary work
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 01 Apr 20 - 04:48 AM

I don't have any problem with my voice Dick- I don't use it as much as I used to, but if your exercises help you, good for you- I'm likewise happy that it has helped Jim C as well.

   However I have a friend from Fermanagh with a very distinctive voice - it's tuneful & enjoyable, but vaguely classical, and certainly not of that county. She once told me she'd had singing lessons when young, and much as she'd LOVE to sing in the lyrical Ulster style, she found it simply impossible to shake off the training from her youth.
Us old codgers are probably safe enough but maybe younger singers should beware of altering their voice in any way, and to beware of later consequences?


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: r.padgett
Date: 01 Apr 20 - 04:21 AM

opera is an art form, I suspect restricted to people who are able to sing professionally in this style ~ it seems to me to require a great deal of physical effort and practice ~ or we would all be doing it

Ray


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Apr 20 - 03:10 AM

All singing requires good technique to enable the performer t to be competent at expressing emotion,same as any other instrument, opera singing is not fundamentally different to folk singning other than in style, opera singing involves telling a story so does much folk singing


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: r.padgett
Date: 31 Mar 20 - 04:35 PM

Opera singing is fundamentally different to folk singing ~being in my view an extension of the spoken word and of course the oral tradition of conveying a story ~ opera does also but not an ideal vehicle for a solo singer

Folk singing also has it's own physical problems, however the Musical Hall artist did very well in this respect ~ design of the Music Hall venue also added to this projection

Ray


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 03:27 PM

singing from the diaphragm is used by opera singers so are vocal exercises, it dies not mean you have to use a lot of vibrato or even sound operatic


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 02:25 PM

A set programme of exercises has proved invaluable to me though I confess I have received some strange looks at traffic lights sometimes
I was put off opera techniques when I did an eletical job for BBC music director Roy Henderson
He had a number of young women students who used to sit nervously in his hallway awaiting his lessons
THey would go in to hi office, you would ear them being forced to sing scles beyond their upper limits and then come out in floods of tears
Singing should never as stressful as that
I've been told ballet is even worse
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 12:58 PM

yes JIM CARROLL, The voice is an instrument and like instruments needs care not abuse hops are a throat relaxant but not in excess, several things i have learned from opera singers that might be useful to others yawning relaxes and helps the vocal chords before singing, deep breathing exercises help to learn to control breathing and diaphragm, but sure if people do not want to learn thats not my problem


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 10:46 AM

" God bless Micheal Martin TD,"
Amen - despite his politics, as you say - St Martin in our House
I was very cynical about voice excercises, but was quickly persuaded when I saw them work
Now, I really couldn't manage without them
They helped me improve my range nd overcome lifelong breathing problems
Lately they won back songs for me I thought I'd lost
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 10:28 AM

Dick, re voice exercises helping me, I played & sang in several pubs a week in Schull, Ballydehob, Ahakista, Baltimore et al with no P.A. for some years and in the days before the smoking ban.
On that subject God bless Micheal Martin TD, however much his politics grate on me- the man who brought it into these islands against all the odds.
Anyway, at the end of a long season in smoky pubs, I went to the local GP, Larry O'Connor with a very sore throat. 'Jase' he said 'you're the fella who plays in Arundels' every Thursday. I was quite flattered that he'd heard me, but next he said 'here's some medicine, but in future, I suggest you keep your mouth closed & just play'.

I think the three pints (+) used to get me through the season- -I was   often driven, by the way!- maybe I would NEED voice exercises now?, but those happy days are past so thanks for the advice, Dick, but will pass on it & hope you found your old car!


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 09:53 AM

My favourite story of collecting and drink was told several times by my late friend Tom Munnelly about himself
Tom discovered a 'big' Irish language storyteller in North Clare and set out to record him one cold winter's night at his cottage
Tommy always admitted his Irish wasn't great so he was a little nervous (uncharacteristically) - when he arrived, he found the storyteller nervous of the idea of being recorded and refusing to start until they'd had a few pints over the road - they did
They returned an hour later, sat down before a roaring fire, and your man began - he woke Tommy up when the first tape ran out
Tommy apologised and suggested they do it another time - your man, having got into his stride, refused and wanted to push on - he woke Tommy up twenty minutes later when the second tape ran out
They began again and after about ten minutes the man, who had only got half-way through his long story (in Irish of course) stopped and said "No - I have that wrong, I'll start it again"
Tommy stood up, said "You will ****, we'll do it some other time" - which they did a few days later
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 09:03 AM

Jim Bainbridge, i recomennd you try doing voice exercises ,you will find it helps.
times change you cannot drive to gigs in west cork and have 3 pints, and as you get older to retain abilty it is necessary imo to look after your body including your voice. if you love singning and want to continue you have to take care of your voice


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 08:22 AM

Drinking with the Travellers could be murder - not because of their heavy drinking, which occurred, but because of their generosity
If a stranger drank in their company everybody bought you a drink
We had a strange experience in a pub on Whitechapel Road when night
Usually Travellers could only get served in pubs where the beer was fairly standard 0 Watneys, which you could safely serve to children being standard
The Travellers were knew became regulars at a real ale pub which served an assortment of the best and strongest
When one of the company order a pint of bitter, the barman pulled whatever was nearest - Everards Tiger, Youngs Special Brew, Hoxton Heavy..... by 9-30 the bar was like The Somme - littered with the dead and wounded
When we rose to leave Pat looked under the bench we were sitting on to find 5 untouched pints people had bought for her- that was her first order - that's what she got all night
At no time had we been allowed to buy a round - hard work but somebody had to do it !!
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: r.padgett
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 07:14 AM

Yes yes interesting comments and thanks for them ~ as we get older our tolerance of alcohol gets worse and I currently drink very little in this regard ~ modern singers differ and all have their limitations where professionalism and memory are concerned in regard to drinking

I remember Fred at Saltburn ff stopping his concert spot to demand a pint!

He needed looking after ~

Of course early days of singing and attending song sessions tended in my case to be addictive even more when put together ~ something about the combination

Ray


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 07:11 AM

Jim,
    your last post reminds me of somrthing I once heard on RTE.
In the course of an interview a musician was asked "What part does drink play in your music?"
The reply was "I can't play until I've had a drink,When I've had a drink
I can't play"
A typicaly Irish way of saying moderation is called for when drink is taken.


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 06:50 AM

There is no suggestion that singin should be a 'dry' pursuit - heaven forfend !
It's when an excess becomees a problem
Unfortunately there are examples of Harry being given too much drink by the company at a time when he was non only getting on in years but also when he ewas straining to remember songs he had never sung in a 'too enthusiastic'
gathering'
NOt Harrt, but the classic example of this was an early session financed by the BBC (pre- 1950s) when Bert Llloyd was over-generous with the BBC's drink allowance and turned the session into a bit of a shambles
We witnesses Seamus Ennis being 'over-supplied' bu one of his relatives at a club booking
I'm sure many remember a professional singer ruining his career with his drink problem
There cmes a point in all evenings when alcohol ceases to act as a reasonable stimulant and overdoes the job - and even turns into a soporific with some people - like me
As a young man in Manchester I was noted for sleeping through some of the noisiest parties - and have photographs to prove it, should I wish to !!
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 06:04 AM

that was me, but maybe you guessed!


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 06:03 AM

I haven't been to a folk club for some years now, and most early folk club organisers did jim bainbridgea great job in exposing the music (and source singers!) to a wider audience, but their decline is maybe just a natural reversion to the 'old ways' decried by the Sandman.
Participation is all- hence the rise of the 'session' as the natural successor to the pub/social/community event- these are now mainly pop-orientated with karaoke the only chance of any live singing?   
Fred Jordan's liking for a pint was well known- my dad was a lifelong Methodist, but got on very well with Fred & always got him a few bottles in when he stayed with us. I know nothing of Cox or Larner in that context, but it suited Fred and it suited me when I made a partial living in the pubs of West Cork - three pints was always part of the informal contract!
As for voice exercises, I think we live in different worlds- the world Fred and most source singers lived in would scorn such things even when promoted by some 'experts' and so would I.


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 04:57 AM

HARRY COX would have disagreed with Rays remark, he was disdainful of another singer and remarked i dont need to have a pint before i sing. THEIR ATTITUDE WAS TO TRY AND DO JUSTICE TO THE SONG, I am sure if they had known vocal exercises would have enabled their voices to last longer they would have done so.


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 04:36 AM

"wouldn't sing without a pint and quite right too!"
There are those who would have disagreed with you
In his gentle way Walter Pardon was quite critical of Fred's drinking too much - in private, of course
He believed singing in public was a commitment you needed all your faculties for
I was at a lecture on Ballads Bert gave at Keele where he took Fred on Stage with him to illustrate his subject
The stage was in the middle of the room below a domed window in the ceiling, in the middle of the lecture Fred fell asleep
A beam of sunlight came through the window and flooded Fred in a glorious glow - a photographer (Brian Shuel, I think) captured the moment for Dance and Song
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: r.padgett
Date: 30 Mar 20 - 03:33 AM

Fred's vocal exercises were probably limited to the strongest pint available on the pumps! and I suspect many of the source/trad singers were partial to the same exercises

Fred had quite a large repertoire of songs too ~ wouldn't sing without a pint and quite right too!

Ray


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Mar 20 - 03:06 PM

maybe if source singers had done vocal exercises then when they wereolder some of them might have kept their voices better,they did not do vocal xrcises because mosty of them had not heard of them , i amsure that those who took pride in their singing [most of them] would have donre so if they had thought or knew it would have helped
"Maybe it's the concept of the folk club guest night which is where we went wrong- I'm sure Fred Jordan didn't do voice exercises, he didn't need to but he never had to do 2 x 45 mins several times a week until he was discovered- are professional folk singers attempting the impossible & we should go back to the old ways? " rather a backward looking reactionary post. does it not occur to you that they fred etc might have kept their voices even longer, if they had done voice exercises


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: r.padgett
Date: 29 Mar 20 - 11:20 AM

Yes venues have changed and are getting less! Folk clubs tend to give an opportunity to sing as and when they happen ~ I reckon 3 songs in 3hrs is usual depending upon circumstances ~ less time when a professional guest is booked

Time for a guest solo used to be 2x 30mins ~ but again I have seen 2x 45mins is too much!! again duos and bands vary too

Hot spots and the like give local stalwarts time to sing and present songs

The change of attitude from singing for money by many, changes the outlook although professional and semi professionals do try to make a living ~ venues and pas etc may also reflect the type of club and singing style and arrangements of for example traditional songs

Tune sessions tend to be just that~ mixed sessions give chance for songs too ~and of course ~ audience members are invaluable for joining in and contributions ~ although not all clubs carry a "kitty" for booking guest ~charity donations seem quite popular and do aid the "living tradition" of songs

Ray


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Mar 20 - 09:59 AM

That makes a hell of a lot of sense crumbly - especially about Fred
Nor did he have to tackle a wide repertoire of songs that would sound ridiculous if they all sounded the same
I share your reservation of club nights, but for Townies like me, they were a welcome alternative and an opportunity to 'spread the message' that we wouldn't have had if we stuck to the 'Singing Circle pattern
Sam Larner described both - singing at the weekly get-together at the Fisherman's Return and the Fisherman's concerts, but he told MacColl and Parker "The real singing was done at home or at sea"
Traveller mkken McCarthy went further when he described three venues - in the street to busk and sell ballad sheets, in thee pub among a crown of locals and Travellers, but he said the most important was "Fireside singing" among the family and close friends
Three types of venue requiring three different styles
Thanks for that
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: GUEST,crumbly
Date: 29 Mar 20 - 09:00 AM

I would say that while some 'source' singers made a living by busking (Margaret Barry & Davie Stewart spring to mind), most of them had only limited performance opportunities, their full repertoire only discovered by collectors seeking out songs.

Some sang at home, with or without their family but many only sang at social events, where there were other singers (like a modern singing circle) and two or three songs might be the nightly limit.

Maybe it's the concept of the folk club guest night which is where we went wrong- I'm sure Fred Jordan didn't do voice exercises, he didn't need to but he never had to do 2 x 45 mins several times a week until he was discovered- are professional folk singers attempting the impossible & we should go back to the old ways?


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Mar 20 - 06:00 AM

most were unaccompanied,it is a good way of learning style,from highly decorated to singers who did not decorate or embellish very much but concentrated on story interpretation or both


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Mar 20 - 05:05 AM

yes jim , that was exactly my point
technique in all forms of music is a tool so that singning and interpretion is enjoyable and easy , so professional singers can enjoy singing if their technique is good because thay are not worrying about being able to perform, professional singers can enjoy performance if their technique is good because they need a good technique because they are using their voice much more than a source singer would , ok is that clear?
that is also where alexander technique can also become important.
source singers were not using their voices seven days a week for several hours , that is where warm up, exercises advocted by the like of your friends maccoll and seeger are useful


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 20 - 04:43 AM

Professional singers must enjoy what they do otherwise that are wasting their time
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 20 - 04:41 AM

Tecnique should be used like a tradesman uses his tools Dick
If you learn how to use them properly, keep them in good order and make sure you know what each one is for and where it is, they're always at hand
Then you can think about the job in hand

Fiddler Kevin Burke used to tell a story when he performed publicly (he was one of the best at both)
A smartly dressed stood in the middle of a crowded fair in Ireland, opened his crocodile-bound fiddle case, took our a shining, extremely expensive fiddle, cleaned it off with a velvet handkerchief, flamboyantly placed it under his chin and began to play
He was appalling
An scruffy old Traveller on a bike watching him, took dirty bundle of tatty old newspapers off the carrier, unwrapped a scratched, split and battered cheap old fiddle covered with beer-stains and grime, thrust it under his chin and began to play it with his greasy old bow
He was ten times worse

It really isn't what you've got but how you use it
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Mar 20 - 04:27 AM

source singers were not out doing massive numbers of gigs , they were often singing for their own pleasure, an important difference between professional folk singers and source singers


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Mar 20 - 04:14 AM

ok jim, but good technique helps to be able to sing the song with comfort and ease, so that the singer can think about interpreation an not worry about running out of breath etc and enables the singer to be able to sing with less chance of damaging vocal chords


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 20 - 04:09 AM

When whoever did chose "How a Folk Song Should be Sung" for the title of the programme on 'The Critics Group' they immediately destroyed any chance of people understanding what the Group was about (sorry to bang on about them again, but as far as I know, they did fore work on 'the folk voice than anybody I know)
Nobody decided how a folk song should be sung and nobody ever should
Based on MacColl's theatre work we examined how the voice was produced and where it was possible to take it if you learned to use if it full and to iron out any long-term problems

Peter Bellamy isn't a bad place to start, Peter had a natural vibrato, as had MacColl, which got in the way of producing what people had described as "The clean, clear folk tone"
Both were aware of the problem; MacColl attempted to suppress it and largely succeeded, though it sometimes surfaced when he was over-tired - he once told be he couldn't bear to listen to his very early records, vibrato being one of the reasons
Peter may have tried to get rid of it but in the end he seemed to embrace it and it increased
The last time I spoke to him (of the few times I did) he described his singing as "Larry the Lamb impersonations" and appeared to be self-conscious about it
Though it sometimes turns up in source singing it is, I believe, rare - Fred Jordan being one of the great exceptions and, I think, his became more accentuated towards the end
There have always been arguments as to whether Joseph Taylor decorated his songs or whether he sang in vibrato

The argument MacColl initially put forward was simple; one of us really use or even know our natural voice once we become adults, the way we produce it is largely decided by outside influences (children are the nearest ones to use 'natural' voices 'naturally')
For instance, 'if you spend 8, 10, 12 hours a day in a noisy environment - a docker, miner factory worker (particularly a steel-worker), you adapted your voice to your needs to communicate, and that's the voice you took home
If you worked in quiet surroundings you controlled your voice to suit those conditions
I was an electrician and worked mostly in people's homes so I instinctively adapted the way I spoke to where I spent a great deal of my time

The argument was that our folk songs covered all aspects and ranges of human experience and emotion which demand different 'tones' - you don't use the same tone to chat up someone you fancy that you would if you were describing a football match - not if you wanted to get anywhere
What you do on each occasion is instinctively let the subject choose the way you speak about
Similarly, you don't use the same tone for a love song, a murder ballad, an erotic romp, a complaint about working conditions, a shanty....

The voice is like the brain - we use only a tiny fraction of its capacity and capability
If you want to use it to the full you have to understand how you produce it and learn how to expand it
MacColl introduced us to the exercises they used in Theatre Workshop and they worked to the extent that we practiced them (the same with his relaxation exercises)
This sounds time-consuming - it isn't
Once you learn these techniques they become almost instinctive - the song chooses the manner in which you sing it

They help with problems too
I stopped singing for years - when I stated up again I found my range had reduced; I could no loner sing Flying Cloud and Sheffield Apprentice - my rangiest songs
I worked at the former and gradually won it back, I found a better tune for Sheffield Apprentice anyway

These are techniques and should never be the main part of singing - that should ciome from interpreting and enjoying what the song means to you


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Mar 20 - 06:19 PM

Peter was not a source singer, revivalist singers with natral and corect vocal techniques, in other words unlikely to damage their voices would include cyril tawney martin wyndham read. I have never had very much voice trouble either, i sing from my diaphragm and use my chest voice


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: r.padgett
Date: 25 Mar 20 - 05:09 PM

Yes of course Harry Cox and Walter Pardon, Sam Larner and Fred Jordan when recorded and over the many times recorded would initially have some consistency in what and how they sang songs in term of keys and ways ~ even if not exactly the same!

The young thruster "revivalist" singers by and large were/are younger singers and should be using their "own voices" ~ I am sure you know what I mean ~ and as has been said many of the younger singers do tend to blast out words and in doing so lose out on some of the intricacies of the source singers

Peter Bellamy used his "high" voice ~ whether this is a good thing is down to personal taste ~as has been said this requires for many either several beers or a shouty technique if you don't have PBs power and voice ~ what I am trying to say is PB is not necessarily a good "source" to learn from for everyone ~PBs style was personal and liked by many of course!!

For me revivalist singers should simply sing within their range using their own voice with regard to phrasing and methods adopted over many years by their source singer ~hence as PB did acknowledging their 'source' at the end of his song performance

Ray


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 25 Mar 20 - 11:18 AM

Yes, agreement in general (not really appropriate to go off on lengthy tangent). I'd use a term other than "head voice" myself for the whispery affectation, since this has a sense in "classical" singing rather different. It occurs, also, that many people wouldn't even be heard more than a few feet away were it not for that familiar traditional instrument, the Microphone. Good Luck, ABCD.


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Mar 20 - 11:02 AM

Hi ABCD
I went into this 'head voice singing some time ago
Whether you like it or not is a matter of taste, but the fact that it takes at least twice the breath to produce means it restricts most singers from singing long-lines without having to breath in the middle
The other problem is the dreaded 'gear change where many women are unable to maintain a consistent tone and are forced to move from head to chest when moving up and down their range
The daughter of a well known singer we know has such a limited range that she produces a yodel-like sound if she exceeds her range
Pegt Seeger worked on this at great lenght and more or less conquered it - but did she hane to !!!
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 25 Mar 20 - 10:42 AM

Very strongly agree about young singers adopting the kind of voices which, I've observed over the years, are particularly approved as appropriate to traditional material. These strike me not as natural voices at all, but an affectation. Just as artificial as operatic singing, and rather less pleasant. However, fashions change, and at least various kinds of material are available for future amateurs of tradition to draw on, build on, and indeed contribute to along the way.


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Mar 20 - 07:41 AM

I believe that 'learning from a source singer' can be a misleading term if not thought through
We have to face the fact that many of our older singers were way past their prime when they were recorded, even the best of them, and many of them were remembering songs they hadn't sung for decades - physical problems were often a feature of their singing (though some of the best singing I heard from Harry Cox was done in the later sessions at a full 'Windmill' pub - circumstances can make a difference)
I hated hearing younger singers trying to sound like Harry or Sam Larner - who wants to sound older than they actually are - that'll come too soon anyway?

That said, it doesn't mean you can't take aspects of singing from the singers that wouldn't come natural to townies like us
The older singers seemed to have a feel for interpretation that I find lacking in far too many younger, more technically 'skillful' singers
Health permitting, the old crowd tended to phrase their songs perfectly - punctuation in the right place, no artificial gaps in the line - musical storytelling
We have a recording of Tom Lenihan 'telling a song' - talking and singing it to explain its meaning - you can follow the story perfectly

They also tended to pitch their voices around their 'natural' physical voice (I wish some of our 'breathy' women or over-nasal male singers would learn to do that)
The Critics Group spent a long time working on making a song our own, interpreting it so you were able to relate to it personally
Singers like Walter Pardon, Tom Lenihan and Mikeen McCarthy had done it all their lives without having had to work at it apparently
They saw and relived their songs when they were at their best - they sang for themselves

Imitation of singers can be useful in exploring and understanding your own voice, but as far as I'm concerned, that's as far as it goes

These are our observations and my opinions - I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Mar 20 - 07:41 AM

I believe that 'learning from a source singer' can be a misleading term if not thought through
We have to face the fact that many of our older singers were way past their prime when they were recorded, even the best of them, and many of them were remembering songs they hadn't sung for decades - physical problems were often a feature of their singing (though some of the best singing I heard from Harry Cox was done in the later sessions at a full 'Windmill' pub - circumstances can make a difference)
I hated hearing younger singers trying to sound like Harry or Sam Larner - who wants to sound older than they actually are - that'll come too soon anyway?

That said, it doesn't mean you can't take aspects of singing from the singers that wouldn't come natural to townies like us
The older singers seemed to have a feel for interpretation that I find lacking in far too many younger, more technically 'skillful' singers
Health permitting, the old crowd tended to phrase their songs perfectly - punctuation in the right place, no artificial gaps in the line - musical storytelling
We have a recording of Tom Lenihan 'telling a song' - talking and singing it to explain its meaning - you can follow the story perfectly

They also tended to pitch their voices around their 'natural' physical voice (I wish some of our 'breathy' women or over-nasal male singers would learn to do that)
The Critics Group spent a long time working on making a song our own, interpreting it so you were able to relate to it personally
Singers like Walter Pardon, Tom Lenihan and Mikeen McCarthy had done it all their lives without having had to work at it apparently
They saw and relived their songs when they were at their best - they sang for themselves

Imitation of singers can be useful in exploring and understanding your own voice, but as far as I'm concerned, that's as far as it goes

These are our observations and my opinions - I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 25 Mar 20 - 06:49 AM

Getting back to the thread, if you call yourself a 'trad' singer or a singer of traditional songs, why on earth would you go anywhere else than the 'source singer(s) for your model? Even if you heard it first from a professional, surely you'd want to know where he or she got it?
'
Professional folk performers will 'arrange' their own way of delivering a song/tune but as Ray P says, in normal times they will be paid for the performance, but surely claiming 'trad.arr' this kind of joint venture is irrelevant, and certainly should not imply any kind of partial ownership!
There might be a case of some kind for acts like Thin Lizzy, who almost completely changed the nature of 'Kilgary Mountain' but that may be for the courts to decide on a one-off basis?

As for it being necessary to prevent the songs dying out, the vast amount of performance of traditional songs is carried on 99.9pc by people who never earn a penny from it- so no danger there.
About Peter Kennedy, I'm well aware of his history, but was just wondering what, specifically, had ruffled the Sandman's' feathers. It has probably been explained elsewhere & I accept that now is not the time to pursue this.


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: r.padgett
Date: 24 Mar 20 - 04:16 PM

So the best way to learn a trad song is from the "source" singer ~ assuming that the revivalist singer has already credited his source ~ yes research is a good idea

trad arranged is fine but should that attract copyright fees to the artist? ~ yes of course the artist will hopefully have been paid for the gig at which he/she sang said song

Ray


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: GUEST,Cj
Date: 24 Mar 20 - 04:04 PM

I suggest the trad. Arr. Is the best thing to do, to keep these songs alive. After all, the (mostly tiny amounts of) money is going directly to artists who are getting out there and keeping the songs played and heard. Would a fund that existed to to popularise the songs be any more effective? What would they do? Adverts on Weetabix boxes? Or would it just be one or two people getting a London wage and a London office, with all the costs that entails whilst all the musicians who wanted to play the music had to make yet another arts application, just so they had enough money to play the blinking songs...

It’s up to the individual musicians to credit their sources. But if their source is Martin Carthy, why lie? By all means do research and say... Martin Carthy who learned it from etc etc But since most of these songs we don’t know the original author(s), surely Harry Cox and Martin Carthy are all just links in the same chain?

Money to the performer’s is the right way to go. The miners on the coal face getting the rewards, not a man in a suit in an air conditioned office.


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Mar 20 - 09:36 AM

Should read
"far too often it's forgotten that that he wasn't the only person working"
Jim


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Mar 20 - 06:29 AM

I agree with Vic on the good work Kennedy's team did (far too often that he wasn't the only person working)
It's what happened to the collection later and the poisonous after effects that spread far beyond the project
The collection should have been in the public domain - it was us (or our parents) who paid for it
It remains still totally accessible to all but those who know their way around the barriers
Kennedy was little more that in the raight place at the right time
Unfortunately, EFDSS, on whose behalf he was appointed, have to take a share of the blame
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Mar 20 - 03:35 AM

Vic , i have pointed that out a few times in an attempt to be fair to KENNEDY.
Howard is spot on


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Vic Smith
Date: 23 Mar 20 - 10:00 AM

I have had my own spats with Kennedy and would agree with every negative comment that has been made about him, but a part of my brain tells me that we need to separate Kennedy the unscrupulous, dishonest operator from Kennedy, one of the most successful, perhaps the most successful folk song collector since the second world war. Am I to stop singing the wonderful versions of songs collected from the the likes of the Willetts, Caroline Hughes, all that great stuff from the north of Ireland, stop playing the tunes that recorded from Scan Tester etc. just because the collector operated in a mendacious manner?


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Mar 20 - 09:10 AM

It should perhaps be pointed out that the copyright in an arrangement and the copyright in the song itself are quite separate things. The arranger cannot claim copyright over the song itself. Where royalties are payable, these are shared between the arranger and the composer. Where the composer is "trad" that doesn't increase the arranger's share. Furthermore there has to be a degree of complexity and originality for the arrangement to be copyright, simply putting the three chord trick to a melody isn't sufficient.

The same goes for transcribing a traditional song - the transcription is copyright, not the song itself. No one can reproduce that particular transcription without permission, but they can make their own transcription from the original source and they will own the copyright in that.

This gives musicians protection for their own artistic contribution while leaving the original material in the public domain.

There may have been cases where others have succeeded in registering copyright in a traditional song to which they are not entitled. The copyright agencies cannot be expected to know the entire corpus of music they manage, so mistakes can be made. Where there is a known composer they can be expected to protect their own copyright, but folk songs don't have the same protection unless someone is willing to challenge an unjustified claim. Kennedy got away with his alleged activities because no one was able to challenge him. That is a fault in the system but it is one of enforcement, not principle.


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Mar 20 - 06:17 AM

Kennedy reached the peak of his vulture-like behaviour with the matere=ial he was sent of Traveller John Reilly by collector, the late Tom Munnelly
When Tom started out, Kennedy was helpful with advice so, when he 'discovered John Reilly, he sent a number of his songs 'for your interest only'
John was in desperate straights and died as a result of his illnesses, so Tom decided that all proceeds should go to a fund to help Traveller children
- Tom informed Kennedy of this
Shorly afterwards, the recordings appeared on the Folktrax label, no payment, no acknowledgement
No payment was ever made and no appeal ever acknowledged
As Seamus Ennis, who worked with him on the BBC project, once said about him - "That man was a thief"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The importance of Source Singers
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 20 - 05:32 AM

Re: Dick, maybe you should be more specific about what exactly PK did to you before sounding so bitter?

Musical Traditions have an article (MT article 212) called 'Peter Kennedy - The Darker Side', with contributions from various people who came into contact with Kennedy. This is what Mike Yates had to say (hope that he won't mind me using this).

The following points are random and set down as they have come into my head:
1. I once phoned Peter Kennedy to talk about an unrelated matter, when I mentioned that I had been recording George Spicer for a Topic LP. There was a pause, then Peter said, “You can’t do that. His songs are all copyrighted to me.” I explained that I was not using any song that Peter had previously recorded from George, when Peter was working for the BBC, and Peter replied “No, he signed a contract which says that any songs remembered by him in the future will be my copyright.” To be honest, I’d never heard such rubbish in my life. So, I just laughed and said something like, “OK. See you in court, then.” Needless to say, we never heard from PK when the Topic LP came out.
2. When I visited the Appalachian singer Clarice Shelor in Virginia in 1980, I was asked if I knew PK. I said yes, and was told that Peter had previously visited Clarice, spending no more than 20 minutes with her, during which time he managed to record a few songs. Peter had said that he was late for an appointment, hence the hurry, and that he would return the following day. “But he never came back. I wonder what happened to those recordings?” I just did not have the heart to tell Clarice - a lovely lady, by the way - that the recordings were then available, to buy, on one of PK’s Folktrax cassettes.
3. When I began to collect in south-east England, I soon came to expect the question, “Do you know Peter Kennedy?” and I soon realised that a positive answer was not necessarily a good thing. I lost track of the number of English singers who had been recorded by him and who had heard no more from him.
4. Kenneth Goldstein sent PK copies of some recordings made by the American collector George Carpenter. These were sent as a present and clearly marked for his own use only. These were promptly issued by Kennedy as two Folktrax cassettes - but withdrawn when Kenny got to hear of this. Kenny was livid. (Told to me by Kenny Goldstein).
5. PK always carried a one-page contract form with him, that he would have singers sign, once he had recorded them. He told me that the idea came from Alan Lomax, who always used such a form.
6. I’m quite certain that many of the Scottish songs issued by PK on Folktrax cassettes were issued illegally. Take, for example, the Jean Elvin songs recorded for the BBC by Seamus Ennis. These were issued as part of a Folktrax cassette. I have issued a Jean Elvin song on Kyloe (a Hamish Henderson recording) and when I contacted Jean’s family was not surprised to learn that they had no idea that the songs had been issued by PK. He also issued material by Willie Mathieson; again, when I contacted the family, they had no knowledge of these recordings being issued. (Recordings not made by PK, I should add).
I recall that Kennedy objected to Topic using ‘his’ BBC recordings for Vol.19 of Topic's VoP series. He demanded payment and Topic finally agreed to pay him, so that the set could appear. I believe that Kennedy was the only collector that Topic paid for use of material for the series.


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