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Author Topic: Vocal Signature Phrases  (Read 7227 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Vocal Signature Phrases
« on: December 20, 2006, 04:53:47 PM »
Hi all,
In the past couple of years, being very busy transcribing the lyrics of various Country Blues musicians, I've noticed how a lot of singers had vocal mannerisms or pet licks or phrases that they employed in song after song.  Over a period of time, a lot of the singer's vocal identity can be attributed to such phrases.  As an example of such a mannerism, one of the most famous and most widely imitated was Peetie Wheatstraw's "oooo well, well", moving from falsetto on the "ooo" to full voice on the "well, well".  The "ooo well, well" is generally inserted halfway through the tag-line of a 12-bar blues.  The power of Peetie  Wheatstraw's signature vocal lick can be attested to by the number of musicians who appropriated it at one time or another for their own songs--Robert Johnson, Sleepy John Estes, Big Joe Williams and even Robert Pete Williams come right to mind, and there are many others.
Another vocal mannerism that comes to assume a kind of mythic stature if you listen to a lot of his music is Sleepy John Estes's line-starting "Now".  You wouldn't think the word "now" could be sung so expressively or carry as much emotional weight as Sleepy John invests it with, but the proof is in the sound and in the delivery that Sleepy John gives the word.  Part of its power resides, too, in how emphatically he places the word, relative to the pulse.  He generally hits it on the second beat of the measure preceding the downbeat of a vocal phrase, holds it through the fourth beat of that measure, and then has a void on the downbeat of the beginning of the phrase, starting the phrase on the + of 1 or 2.  Sleepy John's music has gone relatively un-covered by the present generation of musicians playing Country Blues.  Part of this may be due to the guitar-centricity of much of the interest in Country Blues nowadays and Sleepy John's use of the guitar primarily as a means of time-keeping rather than instrumental fireworks, but I think another reason Sleepy John gets covered as little as he does is that his singing scares off would-be imitators.
Texas Alexander's vocal signature lick would have to be humming, and in particular, his hummed "spirit melody" that occurs in a high percentage of his recorded repertoire.  I don't know if the melody is Alexander's own or if it came from some earlier source, but it is beautiful and expressive, and it's effect seems to gain power as a listener becomes more familiar with it, rather than palling, or "getting old" as it becomes more familiar.
I am curious as to what other vocal signature phrases people can think of that you would associate with different Country Blues singers and to which you could attribute much of their sound.  I know there have to be more of these signature phrases out there.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline Rivers

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2006, 05:13:11 PM »
I always pick up on Lightnin' Hopkin's references to himself in the third person, "poor Lightnin'...", "old Lightnin'..." etc. In fact he has a lot of them, "That's what I'm talkin' about" is another. Definitely a trademark that shapes the way we think of him. Big Bill Broonzy did the third person "ol' Bill" thing a lot as well.

Rev. Gary Davis urging his guitar on before the break, "Miss Gibson...". Intrumentals with stop-time passages punctuated by a question: "What?" "Huh?" "Yes?"

Sonny Terry, when asked a musical question by Brownie: <pause> "Are you talkin' to me?" always raises a smile. Those guys had the best comic timing.

Bukkha White, when you can make him out, is a stream of signature phrases. Maybe it was more signature delivery, the way he rabbits on just so he can 'inflect' in that trademark Bukkha way, posing incomprehensible questions or indisputable matter of fact statements at the end of the line... then, bang, he's gone, onto the next unconnected scenario. Boy I would have hated to get into an argument with Bukkha.

Does Jimmie Rodgers yodel count?
« Last Edit: December 20, 2006, 05:48:00 PM by Rivers »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2006, 05:59:57 PM »
Tommy Johnson's falsetto leap/yodel thing, which Howling Wolf and others picked up on

Walter Vinson's intrusive "r" -- e.g. "Oh rit's done got wet," and many other instances

Charlie Patton's late period "Aw, sho" along with his habit at that same session of saying part of the last line of a verse before he sings it -- in "Love My Stuff" "Jersey Bull" and "Revenue Man" -- interesting that he does these things in what is essentially the same song -- and his vocal asides in general

Blind Boy Fuller's "hey hey" substituting for the first part of the second line of a verse (he may have picked this up from Josh White's falsetto thing that he used to do at this same part of some verses)

Kokomo Arnold's humming to himself under his instrumental breaks, as well as the falsetto thing he does in the stop-time verse of "Milk Cow Blues" that got imitated by absolutely everybody.

On every track I've heard by Edith North Johnson, she ends the song with a little scat-singing variation on the same basic melody.
Chris

Offline Slack

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2006, 08:59:31 PM »
Bo Carter's "Yeah!" comes to mind - not sure it contributes much to his over all sound, but it is surprisingly effective at adding exitement to and propelling some of his instrumental breaks.  Can be heard in Old Devil, Arrangement For Me Blues, Let's Get Drunk Again.... among others. 

Offline Chezztone

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2006, 10:54:10 PM »
Also Bo tends to introduce phrases with "Says..." And he also inserts the R between two syllables when one ends with a vowel and the next starts with a vowel, as banjochris noted that Walter Vincson does. A common example from Carter is "day'r and night." I hear that in other Mississippi singers, including Joe McCoy, but not singers from other states. And I've never heard a Mississippian (or anyone else) use it in speech. Only in song.

Offline dj

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2006, 04:06:58 AM »
Blind Boy Fuller's scatting, usually starting the scatted phrase with "Zee dop...".  It's interesting that Fuller used "Aw, shaw" a lot, as did Charlie Patton at his last session.  Probably just a coincidence...

Offline Johnm

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2006, 12:03:40 PM »
Hi all,
It's great to see all the vocal signatures that people are coming up with.  I thought of a couple of others, Charley Lincoln's laugh and Lil' Son Jackson's "you know", that he used much as Sleepy John used "Now".  I think the insertion of the "r" between a syllable ending in a vowel sound and one beginning with a vowel sound is not confined just to Mississippi singers, Chezz.  I have found it in Peg Leg Howell's recordings and Texas Alexander's, as well, so the speech mannerism was found in Georgia and and Texas too, at least to that extent.  Perhaps there's a generational element to its use.  It is certainly most commonly found in singers with Mississippi origins though.
All best,
Johnm

Offline waxwing

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2006, 12:57:59 PM »
McTell, too, inserts the "r" sound.

McTell brings to mind another vocal mannerism, not exclusive to him, but distinctive. The insertion of the phrase "I mean" befort the tail end of a line, sometime repeated.

All for now.
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Offline Johnm

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2007, 11:07:34 PM »
Hi all,
Robert Wilkins often addressed his earliest recorded songs to "friend", and Robert Pete Williams often sang to "darling".
All best,
Johnm

Offline tenderfoot84

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2007, 02:34:34 AM »
i'm also a very massive fan of jack gowdlock's pronunciation of the word 'do' on his 'rollin' dough blues'.

looka here, looka here what lovin' made me do

he sings this in both the first and final verses and i think there's just a wee smidge of a difference between the two with one being held for longer.

it's amazing. i got it on 'the stuff that dreams are made of' set.
Cheerybye,
David C

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2007, 01:27:28 PM »
And Of Course, There's Peetie Wheatstraw's "Ooh Well"

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2007, 10:35:29 PM »
Okay...so about that "r" thing.

That was one of the first things I noticed about the dialect the old guys were singing in.   I wondered why in the hell they would stick an "r" in there.   I think the first time I heard it was in Big Bill Broonzy's "Worryin' You Off of My Mind" which sounded a lot like "worryin you Roffa my mind."

Well, it's not so much that they are intentionally putting an "r" sound in there, so much as that when they are moving from one vowel ... from "you" to "off" or from "oh" to "it's" or or from "day" to "and" the tongue is moved rapidly from a "closed" to an "open" position in the mouth (and also from a long note to a shorter one), so that it causes an "r" like sound.  I think it's more an indication of how they were singing.

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Offline blueshome

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2007, 12:00:47 AM »
As  far as the "r" sound is concerned, it's been noted elsewhere that a very common instance is the singing of No-r-ah instead of Noah.

JasonE

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2007, 10:40:34 AM »
I had never thought of it explicitly before this thread, but I guess I have my own signature phrases.

I throw "Good God D@mn" and "Lordy Lordy" in a lot.


Anyone else have their own signatures?


JasonE

(btw, I hope this isn't a thread hijack. It seemed more approapriate than starting a new one, any input?)

Offline Bricktown Bob

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2008, 12:29:57 PM »
I think the insertion of the "r" between a syllable ending in a vowel sound and one beginning with a vowel sound is not confined just to Mississippi singers, Chezz.  I have found it in Peg Leg Howell's recordings and Texas Alexander's, as well, so the speech mannerism was found in Georgia and and Texas too, at least to that extent.  Perhaps there's a generational element to its use.  It is certainly most commonly found in singers with Mississippi origins though.

For a while now I've been tracking, in a desultory way, this intervocalic intrusive 'r' with some sort of vague idea of doing something with it.  Examples would be greatly appreciated.  So far I've noted it in these singers:

Big Bill Broonzy, Joe McCoy, Memphis Minnie, Freddie Spruell, Sweet Papa Stovepipe (McKinley Peebles), Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Wille McTell, Leadbelly, Willie Reed, Lightnin Hopkins, Texas Alexander, Muddy Waters, Big Walter Horton, Hosea Woods, George Torey, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Lonnie Clark, Peg Leg Howell, Bo Carter, Walter Vincson, Joe Hill Louis, Mississippi John Hurt, Mississippi Bracey.

Some are represented by only one or two examples (MJH and Muddy, for instance); others (especially Big Bill) do it regularly.  The one Hosea Woods example I've heard is spoken: "Play that harp, Norah, play it."  In "At the Break of Day," Big Bill produces an intervocalic 'n': "I got my arms around the pillow where my baby (n) used to lay."  I seem to remember Blind Boy Fuller using an intervocalic 'm' but I can't put my finger on it right now.

Most of these singers are from Mississippi, but they range from Virginia to Texas -- essentially the range of pre-war country blues.  The prevalence of Mississippians might simply be an artifact of my sample.

One thing I wonder is how much can be attributed to the native dialect of the singer and how much to a presumed "blues dialect."  McTell is interesting in this regard; his dialect seems to float.  Sometimes he does not realize final r's, sometimes he does; sometimes he speaks of Atlanter and Georgie, sometimes of Atlanta and Georgia.  From his talks with John Lomax, I'd guess that his native spoken dialect is rhotic -- but the standard blues dialect is non-rhotic, and that's the way he mostly sings.

In "Rollin' Mama Blues," Ruby Glaze sings: "Want you to roll me, baby, like a baker rolls his dough"; McTell completes the couplet: "And if you gets all my loving you won't want your rider no more."  Now in standard blues dialect dough/more is a true rhyme, with "more" realized as "mo."  But here McTell articulates the 'r' in "more" -- and it's still a true rhyme because Glaze pronounces "dough" as "door."  So, did McTell articulate the 'r' because Glaze said "door," or did Glaze say "door" because she knew McTell was going to articulate the 'r'?

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2008, 01:17:41 PM »
Quote from: Bricktown Bob
For a while now I've been tracking, in a desultory way, this intervocalic intrusive 'r' with some sort of vague idea of doing something with it.  Examples would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Bob,

I believe Robert Wilkins also has the 'r' quirk in a couple of his tunes. Can't recall examples at the moment but am pretty sure it's there.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2008, 01:20:11 PM by andrew »

Offline Bricktown Bob

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2008, 05:09:54 AM »
Thanks, Andrew.  Cool.  Robert Wilkins, from Hernando, MS.

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2008, 05:26:06 AM »
theres the "Hee Heeee" Curley Weaver and I believe Barbecue bob to a lesser extent put in the intro to some of there songs

Offline Johnm

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2008, 09:21:00 AM »
Hi Bricktown Bob,
I can't give you any kind of regional tracer, since nothing is known about Gene Campbell, but in the transcriptions I've been doing of his lyrics I've found more than a few of the inserted "r" sounds you've been tracking.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Bricktown Bob

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2008, 10:35:07 AM »
Thanks, John.

I want more Gene Campbell now; only one I have is "'Toby' Woman Blues" from the Richer Tradition set.  Couple questions, if I might.

You've transcribed the lines from "Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good No How" as:

   I've been as good to you ras (sic) I intend to be
   I've been as good to you as I intend to be

Does this mean he doesn't inject the 'r' the second time around?  This might mean he is a rare-occasions R-ist, not a habitual user like Broonzy.  Unless there is a definite separation between "you" and "as" in the second line -- is there?

In "Robbin' and Stealin' Blues" you have:

   I know howr (sic) you hungry hustlers feel
   I know how you hungry hustlers feel

Again we have the 'r' missing in the second iteration.  But what I find interesting here is the context.  Don't believe I've yet run across the intrusive 'r' before "you."  I see that in "Wash and Iron Woman Blues" he uses the same phrase, "how you feel," without the 'r' even the first time round.  Maybe there's something odd about the way he says "you" in "R&S B."

Oh, the mention of Lonnie Johnson in connection with Campbell reminds me that I recently ran across a single instance of Johnson using the intrusive 'r' -- which for some reason surprised me.  Possibly because Johnson is usually so polished, both urban and urbane, and is quite particular about his articulation.  Ah, thought I'd lost the context, but it's "No More Troubles Now" (1930):

    I used to cry over my woman, I was dumb as I could be
    Now (r) I got three women, brought those new thrills to me.

Thanks again.  Wish we knew something about Gene Campbell.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2008, 12:12:18 PM »
Hi Bob,
Yes, you interpreted the way I transcribed the lyrics correctly.  Gene Campbell sometimes inserts the "r" and sometimes doesn't.  I agree, it would be great to know something about him.
all best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2008, 06:36:27 PM »
Tampa Red's "Yowzah!" and Crudup's "Yeh Man!" are signature phrases, albeit quite monosyllabic.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2008, 10:25:28 AM »
"Good God!" "Great Goddamitey!" "Whatchoo talkin' bout?" "Whatchoo cryin' bout?" "YEA LORD!"
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Offline tenderfoot84

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2008, 12:43:04 AM »
hi,

to chime in on what johnm said about texas alexander's spirit melody - i've listening to him a lot recently thanks to www.sundayblues.org - and i noticed that 'the two charlies' have a go at his hummed signature melody on their song 'low moan blues'. the pair are an amazing duo and this song sticks very closely to their superlative 'bad feeling blues' which is just about my favourite song at the moment.
Cheerybye,
David C

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2008, 04:13:42 PM »
If anyones heard Lee Green he has a really nice vocal signiture which I've noticed that is a wavey voice as he sings, almost as though hes tapping his throat quite fast while he sings.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2011, 04:40:11 PM »
Hi all,
Having recently been a sort of total immersion mode with the music of Tommy McClennan, I've noticed the following vocal signature phrases in his singing:
   * He starts lines with "now" just about as often as Sleepy John Estes did, but his placement is much later in the vocal phrase than was Sleepy John's.  Sleepy John liked to land his "now" around the second beat of the measure preceding the downbeat of a vocal phrase.  Tommy hit his more often on the + of the fourth beat of the measure preceding the downbeat of the phrase.
   * Tommy liked to begin the opening line of each one of his verses with either "now" or "but", but in the repetition of the line, he would most often jettison whichever of the two words he used to begin the first line.
   * In his most excited singing, Tommy like to insert a quick "now-now" in the middle of a line.  He did this more often in the opening line of a verse than in the repetition of that line.
For singers, these identifying vocal signature phrases can be almost a trademark or kind of musical branding, every bit as much as a commonly used instrumental signature lick, like Lonnie Johnson had.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 06:39:04 AM by Johnm »

Offline misterjones

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2011, 10:47:18 AM »
It might be limited to his early songs, but Patton frequently ended lines with an extended (almost imperceptible) uh-oooo-uh-oooo-uh-oooo . . .  I'm not sure if this was an intentional appendage or just the way his voice sounded on extended notes.  I don't recall anyone else doing it.

I recall that Lightnin' Slim frequently said "blow your harmonica son" (presumably before a Slim Harpo solo), Kokomo Arnold frequently would say "play it Jackson" before a guitar solo, and sometimes Blind Willie McTell similarly would say "kick it six".

There's also the B.B. King / Buddy Guy vocal inflection at the beginning of a line (assuming I can accurately illustrate it here):

The first time I met the blues
You know I was walkin' down through the woods
Yeah-aahhhh-yeah, the first time I met the blues . . .

And there's the two-note T-Bone Walker guitar phase that Chuck Berry used a lot, but that might be getting too far afield here.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2011, 10:59:03 AM by misterjones »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2012, 10:45:45 PM »
Hi all,
I realized recently that Bo Carter's biggest signature vocal phrase was spoken, not sung.  It comes when he exhorts himself while soloing:  "YEAH!"
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #28 on: April 05, 2012, 07:15:49 AM »
I realized recently that Bo Carter's biggest signature vocal phrase was spoken, not sung.  It comes when he exhorts himself while soloing:  "YEAH!"

And there are variants, such as, "Yah," and "Yes Gal." Bo was such an affirmative guy.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #29 on: December 26, 2013, 08:46:36 AM »
Hi all,
For those looking for the thread that discusses the "r" that is sometimes inserted between words that end in vowels and those that begin with vowels, this is the one.  Go to the beginning and start reading and you'll soon come to the discussion.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Laura

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #30 on: December 26, 2013, 08:50:41 AM »
Ah, great! Thank you, John :)

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #31 on: December 27, 2013, 02:15:35 PM »
Thanks, John.
I'll start from the beginning fight now.

Offline joebanjo

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #32 on: December 27, 2013, 08:03:06 PM »
The two signature vocal phrases that stand out in my mind are McTell's diverse use of "Lordy Lord" in all types of songs and Big Bill's use of "I delcare" on his late recordings. Great thread! Fascinating thing to observe, thanks John.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #33 on: December 28, 2013, 07:13:45 PM »
Re. the round 'r' conjunction, Lead Belly in the last verse of Fort Worth & Dallas Blues sings:

Good morning blues, blues how do you do?
And good morning blues, blues how do you do?
"I'm doin' fairly well, baby how'ra you?"

http://weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=Fort_Worth_And_Dallas_Blues
« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 07:52:38 PM by Rivers »

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #34 on: December 29, 2013, 01:34:12 AM »
Re. the round 'r' conjunction, Lead Belly in the last verse of Fort Worth & Dallas Blues sings:

Good morning blues, blues how do you do?
And good morning blues, blues how do you do?
"I'm doin' fairly well, baby how'ra you?"

http://weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=Fort_Worth_And_Dallas_Blues

Is round "r" conjunction the accepted term? It's certainly neater than "you know that thing where...  etc."
One question which somebody here might be able to answer, and which would go some way towards supporting or disproving the regional accent hypothesis is: does this vocal idiosyncrasy present itself in southern US speech? I've met quite a few people from that neck of the woods and never heard it used either in person or anywhere outside the context of blues singing. I know we have some southerners here, so perhaps they can add something to this.
I'm inclined to think that it was a deliberate choice on the part of those singers who used it.
Mind you, I've been wrong before and I suppose it may happen again.

Offline alyoung

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #35 on: December 29, 2013, 03:14:26 AM »
Re. the round 'r' conjunction....

In a surprising number of gosepl/spiritual songs (and some blues), the Ark was built by No-rah, or even Norah, rather than Noah.  I sometimes wonder if some occurences of this are  examples of oral tradition transmission (i.e. the guy thinks it *is* Norah, rather than Noah because that's what he's heard)  rather than a vocal idiosyncrasy. This can happen -- virtually every gospel telling of the three Hebrew boys and the fiery furnace mispronounces the third name as Abendigo, rather than Abednego ... but the mistake started cropping up only after the Golden Gate Quartet made it in their hugely popular version of the Bible story.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #36 on: December 29, 2013, 04:34:41 AM »
Al, I grew up in England and always believed it was 'Abendigo'. I remember being surprised to learn it was 'Abednego', much later. The Golden Gates version (I have to think it was the Golden Gates) would get played on a Sunday lunchtime radio show my Dad would ritually turn on.

Stumblin, I'm pretty sure my description could be improved upon by someone familiar with linguistics and/or philology, I just threw it out there. Thinking about it what's wrong is the description 'rounded', it probably is better described as a 'hard R conjunction'.

I live pretty far South and I can't say I've noticed it as a common usage around here. Texans sometimes shorten words and put them back together without inserting any extras, most famous being "y'all".

I'll go with the theory someone posted earlier that the 'R' conjunction makes the vocal line stronger, adds emphasis to an otherwise weaker syllable change. The examples above are all 'O's, 'OW's and 'Ooo's transitioning to 'A's or other vowel sounds; the ''R' gives the singer more leverage.

Maybe in the Deep South it's common in speech, I think it could easily be. When I listen to a Mississippian who speaks the broad regional dialect it's pretty hard for me to understand more than the odd couple of words, so all kinds of things are going on.

Another possible example, using another letter, is the insertion of an 'S'. "You 'S a..." for "you are a...", I can't think of song right now but we've all heard it.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2013, 04:47:12 AM by Rivers »

Offline Stuart

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #37 on: December 30, 2013, 07:37:14 AM »
There are specific terms in linguistics for the phenomena that you are describing, but I'll  be damned if I can remember them as it was 25+ years ago that I studied this stuff.  It's important to remember that languages are spoken and that writing is an external record of speech. We learn language by hearing it. (There are exceptions, such as the deaf.) As spelling is standardized, it doesn't necessarily match with what we hear or how we speak. That's why people who do field work or are specialists in the field use IPA when using written notation to represent what is spoken.

Since people learn from one another, it's not surprising that there is variation that is learned and then passed on and reinforced by the members of a group. As I mentioned before, my mother was from rural NE PA and I grew up pronouncing "wash" as "warsh," "creek" as "crick" and "county" as "cownee." Hicks from the sticks.

Personally, I think it's fascinating and adds character and color to language, a view that may be at odds with those of a "prescriptive" bent. Living just north of Seattle, we get CBC and the variations in pronunciation and accent by folks in areas north of the border always catch my attention. IMHO, it would be a dull world if we all sounded the same.

Edited to add: N.B. the discussion re: the author's use of a modified spelling system in his attempt to capture Mance's voice in I Say For Me A Parable.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 07:41:43 AM by Stuart »

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #38 on: December 30, 2013, 11:55:50 AM »
Hi all,
I wonder if there was some elocutionary aspect of the "r between vowels" that was taught or disseminated by early performances of groups like the Fisk Jubilee Singers or other such ensembles.  It may have been taught or communicated that it was easier to hear breaks in sung words when one did not go directly from a word ending in a vowel sound to a word beginning with a vowel sound without an intervening consonant (or even between syllables in a word, as in "Noah/Norah").  Such an explanation might help to explain why the "r between vowels" shows up in singing but not in speaking.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 11:59:27 AM by Johnm »

Offline Stuart

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #39 on: December 30, 2013, 01:44:29 PM »
I found the following re: the "intrusive r" in a Wiki entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linking_and_intrusive_R

A search for "intrusive r" yields a fair number of results.

And now I keep flashing back to those old Rainier Beer commercials.  :P
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 01:49:30 PM by Stuart »

Offline Pan

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #40 on: December 30, 2013, 05:09:20 PM »
Hi all.

Speaking of peculiar pronunciations, Judson Brown's "You Don't Know My Mind Blues" has a most peculiar pronunciation of the word "laughing".  Is anyone familiar with this pronunciation?



Cheers

Pan

Offline Rivers

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #41 on: December 30, 2013, 06:11:07 PM »
Thank you Stuart, thank you. I knew there was an elocutionary science out there that described it, and I couldn't remember the terms either. The study is Phonology, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonology

Quote
Linking R and intrusive R are sandhi or linking phenomena[1] involving the appearance of the rhotic consonant (which normally corresponds to the letter 〈r〉) between two consecutive morphemes where it would not normally be pronounced. These phenomena occur in many non-rhotic varieties of English, such as those in most of England and Wales, part of the United States, and all of the southern hemisphere. These phenomena first appeared in English sometime after the year 1700.[2]

Exactly, that's what I was trying to say. It's the old 'rhotic consonant between two morphemes' thing.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #42 on: December 30, 2013, 09:14:50 PM »
The study is Phonology

Otherwise known as "Phonyology." I did one of my field exams on historical phonology, but for better or for worse, I never had to deal with intrusives.

Edited to add: The laterals in some languages give rise to jokes when non-native speakers can't distinguish sounds because there isn't a distinction in their mother tongue. Rice and lice in English is a common one for Japanese native speakers at an early stage in learning English. And it's those subtle distinctions that one unconsciously learns as a child that make it difficult for most people to learn a foreign language accent free as an adult. We're just approximating the sounds.

How we acquire language is still one of the great mysteries. Pat Kuhl at the UW has done some interesting work in this area is anyone wants to follow up.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 09:12:03 AM by Stuart »

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #43 on: December 31, 2013, 01:48:27 AM »
Speaking of peculiar pronunciations, Judson Brown's "You Don't Know My Mind Blues" has a most peculiar pronunciation of the word "laughing".  Is anyone familiar with this pronunciation?

Pan, I think I've heard similarly extreme pronunciations. It could be a music-hall/theatrical affectation.

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #44 on: February 18, 2014, 06:30:36 PM »
Hi all,
In the course of listening a lot to Lil' Son Jackson recently, I've noticed a vocal mannerism of his.  He particularly like to begin the taglines of his verses with the phrase, "Well now,".  In his Imperial Recordings, at least, he ends up using that phrase every bit as much as Sleepy John Estes opened lines with "Now".
All best,
Johnm

Offline Laura

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #45 on: March 07, 2014, 07:40:33 AM »
While transcribing the lyrics to Joe Callicott's "War Time Blues" I noticed an example of this which I really like.  I suppose it could be another example of a "linking consonant" (Sorry, Gumbo :P)

Where he sings "I want you to understand", instead of using "to" or "ta" as he pronounces it through the rest of the song, he sings "T" or "tee". It makes the words flow together really nicely and without changing the pronunciation there would simply be too many syllables in the sentence.

I can't think of any other examples of where he does this but it does sound familiar to him and I bet if I can think of a song where he ends a word with a consonant then the next word is a "U" it will be apparent...

Well, maybe this is no more than mildly interesting to anyone else..but I love it!

Offline Laura

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Re: Vocal Signature Phrases
« Reply #46 on: March 07, 2014, 07:49:38 AM »
Ohh..I think I know why it's so familiar. Gary Davis does this with "to understand" , as well.  Ahh..I'm off to listen!

 


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