Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tonal Tuesday - Words - Bane or Blessing?

“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.” 
― Maya AngelouI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  

Last night we were practising "Grandma's Feather Bed".  That song is full of words.  Check out this video.  The late John Denver is singing this quite bit faster than we were BUT you can hear every word.  This song tells a funny story so you have to hear all those words.  (Check out Fun Friday for another very funny version!!)

So how does he get all those words out so clearly.  Here is my take on that idea.

1. He KNOWS the words.  You can tell the words are second nature to him.  They flow.  He doesn't have to think about them.  AND he doesn't have his head buried in a sheet of music.  Are you listening out there?

2. He OPENS his mouth.  that seems like an obvious statement but not so.  Watch some singers and they barely move their lips.  Open your mouth and move your lips.  Words are clearer by far.

3.  He FINISHES his CONSONANTS.  I can hear my choir now.  They are brilliant at enunciation BECAUSE they finish consonants.  Try understanding something with no consonants.  Yikes.  They are like the bookends for vowel sounds.  

4.  He has FUN singing this song.   It is obvious that he enjoys this song.  If you watch a number of performances or listen to recordings you will notice that he does it a bit differently each time.  He really enjoys it.  Even when a song has a serious meaning, you have to be IN the song and truly enjoy it. 

As Maya Angelou says in the quotation above, we the singers bring meaning to the words.  Words on paper are just that.  You, like me, probably remember studying works like Shakespeare from books and not enjoying them until you got to see them come to life on stage.  The actors brought the meaning.  The words stayed the same but the delivery was oh so very different.  Songs require the PEOPLE POWER to help them come alive.  

So go ahead, have fun!!  Be John Denver in the shower and make those words dance!!


Kay said...

Love what he does after kissing Aunt Lou....
Gotta practice that!

Embro Thistle Singers said...

Oh I so agree. It is short sweet and oh so effective.