collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

I'm just tippin' in... Oh yes baby, don't walk too hard. I've 'n got lonesome here, I need me someone to consolate my mind. I'm a lonesome man, God knows I ain't never satisfied - Robert Pete Williams, Just Tippin' In

Author Topic: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?  (Read 9656 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2008, 06:03:58 PM »
Quote from: waxwing
Have you spent as much time practicing singing as you have guitar playing?

One of the key points made in this thread so far, IMO.

I disagree about the Rev, though, and don't know that he performed regularly with a cigar in his mouth, just that there's some home video of this.  Maybe he did, I dunno. But I think he's a fascinating singer, not always easy to take, but hard core. If his students didn't take anything away from his singing, that's their fault, not his.

Quote from: OMuck
Singing is where the rubber really hits the road. How invested are you? What do you have to bring to the song? How much are you capable of letting yourself feel? How much of that are you willing to show? Are you willing to step out of your set identity to engage a song? Unless singing is embaressing, it ain't no damn good at all.

More interesting points. I'd guess that for many of us guitar-playing country blues nerds, singing is a hesitant thing, even verging for many on being somewhat unnatural. Which is exactly the opposite of what you want with this music. As for embarrassment, hell, I can barely sing in front of the dog.  :P

Late addition: Listening to singers with a mind to copying them is something I would guess many people hooked on instructional video or tabs probably don't do much of, and others have made good suggestions for that. I'd only add that some of the music I've been listening to lately is prewar gospel, something I've generally avoided for the most part, and I think it's tremendously educational as a wannabe singer - plus it's some great music!
« Last Edit: April 23, 2008, 06:10:28 PM by andrew »

Offline Mr.OMuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 2605
    • MuckOVision
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2008, 06:10:55 PM »
Quote
singing is a hesitant thing, even verging for many on being somewhat unnatural. Which is exactly the opposite of what you want

Personally, that sounds like an excellent place to work out of. Exactly what you DO want.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2008, 06:12:00 PM »
Curious. How so?

Offline Mr.OMuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 2605
    • MuckOVision
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2008, 06:39:00 PM »
There are personal blues and entertainment blues. lets focus on the personal ones. If something feels unnatural and hesitant it is likely to be because it is not the result of a preconceived expression of ones public persona. If it feels alien that is probably an indication that you are tapping into an unvisited part of yourself. The hesitancy is a manifestation of a response to newness and an awareness of the possibility for embarrassment from exposure of personal feelings. And those are all* the necessary components of a good singer. A voice is a voice is a voice. Some are more musical sounding than others without question but everyone has one and no ones is uninteresting if pressed into service of truthful expression.

*Timing and good pitch are also good to have.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2008, 08:21:42 PM by Mr.OMuck »
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6944
  • I like chicken pie
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2008, 06:50:46 PM »
Great post O'Muck.

Offline Coyote Slim

  • Member
  • Posts: 268
    • coyoteslim.com
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2008, 07:05:06 PM »
Too often people think blues singing is shouting.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

Coyote Slim's Youtube Channel

Offline Mr.OMuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 2605
    • MuckOVision
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2008, 07:43:04 PM »
Quote
Great post O'Muck.

Tenks uh lot.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Online waxwing

  • Member
  • Posts: 2545
    • Wax's YouTube Channel
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #22 on: April 24, 2008, 08:41:44 AM »
OKeh, I was somewhat joking about the Rev. I didn't say he couldn't sing, in fact, I said he could. But I don't think he was prideful about his singing like he was his guitar playing. I think if you asked him he would say that everyone in church sings, but only he, Gary Davis, can play any hymn in any key the organist chooses. It was his guitar playing that he wanted to be remembered for, that he wanted to pass on to others, and if you look at many who took lessons from him, Stefan and Woody, who don't sing at all, and others, like Ernie and Jorma, who are not really known for having practiced their vocals as much as their playing, you'll see a pattern in his legacy. You've got one of the best voices of any of his acolytes I've heard, Mr. O'Muck, and your post on the vocal training thread belies some actor training methinks (pick a target for your voice - classic Linklater vocal technique). But the player/teachers I've mentioned above have instilled the same focus on the guitar to the detriment of the vocals that, unfortunately, they seem to have come away with after studying with the Rev. Not by his intention, so much, as by the happenstance of his outlook.

But I agree with you about finding your uncomfortable zone and trying to hang in it, Mr. O'M. I've actually mentioned this before here, in the context of acting, which I was a practitioner of for 30 years before coming back to the blues. I would often be coached by directors or other actors to go ahead and change that line I was struggling with to something I might say myself, something I was comfortable with. But I always hung in there with those tough lines, 'cause when I found my way into that uncomfortable line, I would usually find my way into the character as well. Those uncomfortable, different-from-me, or my persona, parts were the key.

Hey, I think we can all admit that our first attraction to playing, and singing, was, well, to look cool. But I think you have to blow off looking cool before you can really look cool, if you know what I mean?

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2679
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #23 on: April 24, 2008, 09:00:14 AM »
Hey, I think we can all admit that our first attraction to playing, and singing, was, well, to look cool.

Hi John:

I started playing when I was nine years old. I just loved music and wanted to learn how to play it. "Cool" never had anything to do with it--I was too young, unaware and unsophisticated. (Nothing much has changed except the "young" part.) I guess that I'm the exception that proves the rule.

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10932
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #24 on: April 24, 2008, 02:00:31 PM »
Hi all,
The questions posed at the front end of this thread are very complex, but I'll offer a couple of thoughts.  In terms of sound production and tone, I would say one of the major reasons we don't sing like they used to is that we did not grow up singing in African-American churches.  That kind of formative experience of the act of singing colors the sense of proper tone production and inculcates the means of achieving such a sound at an early age (when imitation is considerably easier) so that the way of singing becomes unconsciously "right".

I think another issue, and perhaps a more significant one, has nothing to do with tone production, vocal technique, and the like, but pertains rather to the extent to which many of the old blues lyrics do not really speak to modern performers of the music, either with regard to means of expression, content or life experience.  This problem is one that vocal technique is not going to solve for you.  Basically, you have to select lyrics that speak to you in some way that makes singing them feel and sound right.  If you don't have that quality in relationship to what you're singing, there is really no point in what you're doing.  I think younger performers are more malleable in this regard.  I could sing a lot of stuff when I was a kid that I would never sing now.  I have to choose material much more carefully now.
all best,
Johnm

Offline Mr.OMuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 2605
    • MuckOVision
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #25 on: April 24, 2008, 03:53:59 PM »
I concur. I've been omitting lyrics (sexist, violent racist) ever since I got hissed and booed at by a contingent of feminists whilst performing Willie McTells "Southern Can is Mine" in 1970. It got me thinkin'.
And i realized that I'd have to find a level of accord with the lyric content of what I was singing if I was going to make this work. More later my son needs the computer.

My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Mr.OMuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 2605
    • MuckOVision
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #26 on: April 24, 2008, 05:32:39 PM »
Back again. The larger issue it seems to me is what adaptations can be made to existing lyrics to make them relevant and meaningful and palatable. Some of the lyric content of Blues is always relevant and timeless and some not. One can always write in a substitute lyric for an unacceptable bit, but the danger there is a certain kind of contemporization trivialization. Certainly part of the appeal of this stuff is its use of outmoded and arcane language. Those qualities are in themselves a bit mysterious. As to lyrics which reflect our experience; Just like Tom Thumb's Blues is a lot more reflective of my inner universe than Crossroad Blues, but Bukka White's Strange Place Blues is closer still.
Synthesis is always the key it seems to constructing enduring art in any discipline. Now I've de-specified my lyric content and sing any of a number of favorite Blues lyrics in random order and in any song I choose. The narrative is sacrificed I think, but they take on a sort of symbolic presence as part of the sound.
John is absolutely right on the Black Church component of singing. I've now mentioned Bessie Smith as someone aspiring singers should listen to (by the way as it used to say on Rolling Stones records, play this music loud!) and it is no coincidence that she was the great Mahalia Jackson's favorite singer. I have spent long hours listening to old spirituals and think that some of the country church things recorded by Lomax and others in the 50's & 60's are top tier, art for the ages stuff. That is where it all comes from, so paradoxically if you want to sing the Blues, go to Choich y'all!
I'ha'm travelin', I'ha'm travelin', tryin' ta make Heaven my ha'ome, Lord  I'ha'm travelin', I'ha'm travelin', tryin' ta make Heaven my ha'ome!

PS. I think white Blues players should only sing Bel Canto style as an ethical consideration no matter how bad it sounds...HEEYAWK! BTW that would include me.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2008, 05:56:03 PM by Mr.OMuck »
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2679
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #27 on: April 24, 2008, 06:27:02 PM »
...I would say one of the major reasons we don't sing like they used to is that we did not grow up singing in African-American churches.
Astute observation, John.

I would add: How many of us grew up singing? As I recall, at the schools I attended only the kids with "potential" were encouraged to join the glee club. If you weren't a church member, or if it wasn't possible to attend choir practice, that option was not available. And how many of us grew up in musical families where singing at home was a form of recreation and entertainment?


Offline Coyote Slim

  • Member
  • Posts: 268
    • coyoteslim.com
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #28 on: April 24, 2008, 07:07:40 PM »
I did not grow up singing, but I do come from a line of talented storytellers.  Mimicry is a good skill in storytelling.  As a child I was always fascinated by the different way people say the same words.  I still constantly do imitations of friends, co-workers, etc.  I think this has helped me to become a blues singer, because I listen not only to the way words are pronounced, but the tone and "placement" of the voice. For example most modern singers do not sing from the same place as the old-timers.   I don't know what it's called -- head voice/ chest voice/ neck voice??  Does that make sense?
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

Coyote Slim's Youtube Channel

Offline Mr.OMuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 2605
    • MuckOVision
Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #29 on: April 24, 2008, 07:43:45 PM »
Quote
I think this has helped me to become a blues singer,

And a damn fine one too I might add! 'Course ya' gots a fine instrument (voice) to start with there
Mr. Coyote.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Tags:
 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal