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Help: Trads to recommend for singer?

20 Feb 00 - 04:37 AM (#181564)
Subject: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Escamillo

Let me refresh my request on another thread, I'm looking for a few more recommendations:
Original request:
Subject: RE: Tell me what Traditional Songs you sing. From: Escamillo Date: 14-Feb-00 - 06:53 AM
As usual, I'm learning something at the Mudcat. Would someone recommend me some traditionals to sing with a piano accompaniment ? (It's more than hard to find a couple of American folk musicians here in Buenos Aires). My voice is rather classical (not enough for grand opera, but classically educated). Shenandoah, My Old Kentucky, Old Folks at Home, several negro spirituals, all have been a pleasure for me and I would like to learn more with the advice from the wise people. Melancholic, emotional, even religious, are my taste.

Answers received (and very much appreciated):
From: Amos
A sweet religous item is "Abide With Me". In a Victorian vein you would probably enjoy doing "Only a Bird in A Gilded Cage". Corny but nice. Most of Steven Foster's songs were designed as parlor songs and often performed on pianos. And, personally, I think "Greensleeves" and "Sally Gardens" would sound lovely on piano with a classic voice behind them.

From: doesterr
In the Irish vein, I love _Kevin Barry_ and _The Rising of the Moon_. Someone mentioned _The Brazos River_, which reminds me of _No Mo' Cane on the Brazos_.

20 Feb 00 - 09:22 AM (#181606)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: wysiwyg

I think your best bet would be to start with a couple of traditional music songbooks written for piano and vocal. That way you can get a sample of different types and topics and decide what you like, and then branch your way out from there.

I went to Mel Bay publications at:

Here are a few of the items at that address you might like, and many come with tapes or CD'stohear some of the selections. Of course many if not all of the melodies willalso be in the DigiTrad so you can hear and choose what you like.

Appalachian Folk Songs for Piano & Voice, by Richard L. Matteson, Jr.

Folk Songs for Schools & Camps, by Jerry Silverman

Folk Songs of the British Isles, compled by Andrew Gant

Front Porch Old-Time Songbook, by Wayne Erbsen

Music on the Mountain, by William Coulter and Barry Phillips

Old Time Gospel Songbook, by Wayne Erbsen

The World Turned Upside Down, by Barry Phillips

Doc Watson & Clarence Ashley: The Original Folkways Recordings 1960-1962

20 Feb 00 - 10:35 AM (#181630)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton

I like to go to the recordings. Library of Congress Folkarts Division, Folkways Records, Rounder, Arhoolie, Gael Linn, Shanachie, early Columbia legacy or anywhere that you can hear a traditional performer do the song and go from there. Music on the printed page is like going to a lecture on heaven. Best to bypass the lecture and go to the real thing.


20 Feb 00 - 10:44 AM (#181632)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: dick greenhaus

If you'd like to hear how a classically trained singer treats folk material, try Richard Dyer-Bennett (only two recordings of him on CD, but probably more will be re-issued). Or Peter Pears, along with Benjamin Britten.

If you want to hear real traditional material, there's probably more recordings available than there ever have been. (CAMSCO can get any or all of them for you---pick a general style or area of interest)

20 Feb 00 - 11:44 AM (#181655)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Willie-O

You should look up recordings of Kenneth McKellar, the Scottish tenor. Practically the only classical-style song interpreter I know of that has a genuine feel for Celtic music--and I think he did a lot to preserve the repertoire during mid-century when "Brigadoon" was the unfortunate model. And they sound great with a lively piano accompaniment.


20 Feb 00 - 02:34 PM (#181733)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: sophocleese

If you can dig up material my Marjorie Kennedy Fraser you sould try some scottish songs with piano accompaniment. Cecil Sharpe's Book A Hundred English Folksongs has piano in it. A lot of traditionalists don't like the accompianment because the songs were originally sung a cappella and accompianment, even modern guitar, tends to fit the song into a particular time period in a way that the melody doesn't.That can be interesting in itself, a Victorian arrangement contrasted with a modern arrangement of the same piece. You could also try Ralph Vaughan Williams or Benjamin Britten for arranged English folk songs.

20 Feb 00 - 03:38 PM (#181753)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Metchosin

Escamillo, are you a tenor, baritone or bass? Some songs such Danny Boy are usually sung by a tenor, although with folk songs there is usually no problem changing the key. If you are singing a piece from an opera or musical, (Porgy and Bess comes to mind) you probably would want to keep it in the same key as well, although something like "Summertime" is now a standard and you can get away with doing it in any key also. It might make it easier for me to suggest pieces.

21 Feb 00 - 12:04 AM (#181986)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Escamillo

I'm saving the whole thread in a safe place and will make good use of all your recommendations, for which I'm GRATEFUL!
Metchosin, I was for many years a baritone but my teacher since 1996 has made some wonders and now I'm a tenor (not a SPINTO) and can try almost any piece for tenor or baritone except those expressely written for spintos. My highest notes are B flat and some B natural (never a C!):)
Thanks a lot, un abrazo - Andrés

21 Feb 00 - 04:24 AM (#182044)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Crowhugger

You might check out Paul Robeson, see if there are any re-issues. I think they still used wax when he was recording. Signature song "Old Man River" was recorded with orchestra but I'm sure my grandmother had sheet music with a decent piano reduction. Goodness knows about availability. Mind you, as a tenor you'll be about an octave above his rendition!

21 Feb 00 - 12:52 PM (#182190)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Dan Evergreen

Check out the album entitled "The Irish Tenors." Although they sing to an orchestra, much of the material would do fine with only a piano. Based on your criteria, I think you will want to learn most of the songs on the album.

21 Feb 00 - 01:34 PM (#182206)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Jon Freeman

Check out the recrdings of John McCormack - there must be plenty of suaitable stuff there.


22 Feb 00 - 01:56 AM (#182610)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Escamillo

I'll look for Irish Tenors and McCormack, thank you ! Crowhugger, thanks for the reference to Robeson, he's my idol and I've performed many of his hits, including OldMan River with which I made the audience (mother and wife) drop some tears ! I do have the music sheet, it was written for a tenor, so it was Paul Robeson who sang it one octave lower - tsk, tsk this boy..
Un abrazo - Andrés

22 Feb 00 - 02:09 AM (#182615)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Crowhugger

On the matter of piano accompaniment being somewhat out of character for much traditional material, that's true. Somehow it has become the standard when many other flavours of accompaniment would fit more comfortably.

When you've chosen some repertoire, contact me about writing an arrangement for voice and cello. My specialty. I love this combination because it is so flexible - blues, folk, plainsong, airs, dances, jazz. I can't say I've tried rock or reggae...yet. BTW, I achieve the most fluid results with 1 voice + 1 cello, or 1 voice + 2 cellos. Cello goes particularly well with the tenor voice because they can share registers for some close harmonic moments, or cello can go below. It takes quite a cellist to go above, so I haven't gone that way.

22 Feb 00 - 05:08 AM (#182666)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Escamillo

A cello accompaniment ! You make me dream with something as classic as Greensleeves or as plainsong as Unchained Melody. A cellist will be harder to find than a pianist, but I have some friends in the Buenos Aires Philarmonic, perhaps I find a candidate. Thanks a lot!
Un abrazo - Andrés

22 Feb 00 - 08:38 AM (#182687)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Crowhugger

Well, perhaps I'll get to work on Greensleeves, eh?

I expect that the following thoughts will come as no surprise to you: --a pro cellist who also teaches may be able to connect you with a talented, adventuresome student. --(excellent) accompanists know who has music in their bones. And who does not.

If you find that it's often best to have a clear request when approaching people, let me know and I'll knock my butt into gear! Sheesh! Just one little notion about voice+cello and away I go...

For rennaiss/baroque-ish tunes, the (relative major) key note on an open string offers some desirable upper partials. Cello is tuned (descending in pitch) A-below middle-C, DGC, but you probably know that. Andres, please choose the key and tell me how many verses you sing and I'll be on my merry way. I'm serious if you are. Actually I'm serious regardless...

This is such a pleasant surprise, "meeting" someone at a blues/folk site who is interested in this sort of thing.

Hoping to get the basics to start me off...I'm so happy I could hug a crow!!

22 Feb 00 - 02:26 PM (#182850)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Alice

Andrés, I can add to the list the Irish Songbook 75 Songs - The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, available on the internet from bookstore websites. It includes some Scottish songs, too, such as "I Once Loved A Lass" and "Ar Fol Lol Lol O". More suggestions, "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye", "The Bard of Armagh" (same family of songs as the American "Streets of Laredo").

If you can find a copy of the Folk Songs of North America, Alan Lomax, there are sections of songs such as "Lonesome Love Songs" - Fair and Tender Ladies, Black is the Colour, etc. and "White Spirituals" - Way Over In The Heavens, - other types like Sixteen Tons and Dark as a Dungeon, railroad songs, African American Spirituals from the south, work songs, blues.... That book would be a good source for you.

alice flynn

22 Feb 00 - 09:42 PM (#183089)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Escamillo

Thanks Alice ! I'll try local music stores and then in the net. I think with all these recommendations I will have a beautiful and "exotic" (for latin people) repertoire. By the way, celtic music is gaining adepts in Argentina, unfortunately there are no bands specialized in that music, but CDs are selling more and more every day. Un abrazo - Andrés

22 Feb 00 - 10:00 PM (#183099)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Art Thieme

Ruth Crawford Seeger, Pete's mom, did fine piano accompaniments for many folksongs.

John McCormack (the operatic tenor) from the turn of the last century, did MANY Irish songs in the style you want---with piano accompaniment.

And I second the motion to check out Pauk Robeson's work. In concert, he always used a pianist behind his voice.

Win Stracke, a founder of the Old Town School Of Folk Music in Chicago along with Mr. Frank Hamilton, was a fine singer of German lieder and other classical works. Win's LP, Songs Of Old Town might be around. His earlier children's LP has the best version of "Shenandoah" I've ever heard.

Also, Jo Stafford did an LP for Capitol called American Folksongs with orchestral backup by her husband, Paul Westin, that was simply exquisite. She also did a nice album of Scottish folksongs, but the great one was the American one.

Art Thieme

22 Feb 00 - 10:07 PM (#183104)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Alice

Good luck. It sounds like a fun project for you!


22 Feb 00 - 10:15 PM (#183107)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Escamillo

Crowhugger, this is GREAT ! If you mean that tuning ADGC (for me, La Re Sol Do) would make things easier or better for harmonization with tenor voice, ok, you decide. I'll now look for the sheet music or MIDI (there are tons) of Greensleeves and choose how many verses to sing. I've never sang this beautiful song, so if you have an idea just tell me.
I came to this forum looking for some lyrics, as many others, and got caught by the kindness, friendlyness and knowledge of so many people, though I'm not a folk singer, not because I dislike it, but mainly for a lack of knowledge on this music. As a soloist, I had been performing negro spirituals with good success in small stages, accompanied by piano, and some fragments of musicals with a jazz trio. (My main musical activity has been in chamber and large choirs with symph. orchestras) As baritone/tenor also performed some Bach, Scarlatti, even Wagner (forgive me, masters!) but I think a competition with Bocelli doesn't make me any favor, and a repertoire enriched with traditional USA, UK, Irish, celtic will be less stressing and a beautiful surprise for my small audiences.
Thank you again, I'll come back tomorrow
Un abrazo - Andrés

22 Feb 00 - 10:28 PM (#183113)
Subject: RE: Help: Trads to recommend for singer?
From: Escamillo

Sorry for posting too much, I feel the urge to express my gratefulness to everybody, now Art Thieme !!!
Un abrazo - Andrés