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Posts Tagged ‘singing

Like Leonard, Like Bob, Like Neil

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I always work to sing it in my own way. But forgive me over the coming month or two if I get caught with a touch of Leonard, a touch of Bob, and a touch of Neil in my voice.

Like Leonard, Like Bob, Like Neil . . .

Written by macheide

27 January 2018 at 12:46 pm

Posted in minstrel

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I’m Gonna Be a Grandma!!

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“If you wouldn’t be too embarrassed…,” Ron comments.

Ummm, me be embarrassed? Has he not been to any of my performances?? Oh sure, there have been times when I have been offended by insults about who I am or what I do, but only when the ridicule has lacked truth. Like, when my eighth grade English teacher publicly ridiculed a composition I’d written as having been influenced by “too much TV,” unaware that she was speaking of a child who had grown up with no TV at all. But anyone who has ever accused me of worrying about what people think of me simply doesn’t know me at all. I’m not out to make fans or collect groupies. Sharing a smile or too will do quite fine, thank you.

So yes, I’ll be the grandma for our Singers’ rendition this Christmas of Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. And have fun doing so. I don’t happen to believe a person has to be unrealistic to know how to have fun with living. This place needs a few more grandma types who have fun being who they are, right?

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Written by macheide

21 October 2014 at 8:51 pm

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Old Man’s River

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— post subject to continual updating through early August 2014 —


Even with the memory losses of age and experience, I can recall appreciating Paul Robeson’s Ol’ Man River way back when my baritone register was as distant in my then future as my falsetto rests in peace through my now past. But if I ever actually learned the song along the way, that’s long gone. So I dodged a request to sing it at last week’s karaoke event, begging off with a promise to be prepared to perform it at next month’s session.

Suzi tells me she doesn’t like the song. That’s ok; we all have our different likes and dislikes, and I don’t judge or insult hers like some take pleasure in mocking me mine. And we might actually be in synch on one thing that might annoy her, one phrase that colors the entire song difficult for me to sing: “[I’m] scared of dyin’.” I’m not. So much so the opposite am I, it’s one of the things that troubled her the most about my brush with death. So no doubt she gets flashbacks when she hears me practicing that portion of the song, as vividly so as the urgent expectations I feel swelling inside on the notes as I feel my soul proclaiming the absolute inverse of the words coming out of my mouth.

But yes, I am well on my way practicing Ol’ Man River for our next karaoke session August 4. Notes (in progress) —

  • As much as for many of our other selections, I’ll want to preview Bobby’s karaoke background instrumentation before my performance. Are we in the key I am expecting? If not, how many clicks up or down do I need to have Bobby take it? Is the instrumentation similar to the Robeson clip I have, where I will have little or no intro before I will need to set my first notes down? What if any background vocal accompaniment does the karaoke version have? Does it include the full intermediate section Robeson does? Are there any timing differences – speeding up, slowing down, pauses – that I will need to prepare for? Will the karaoke backing accommodate the slight variations I am planning to introduce?
  • I’m comfortable with the full range in the key Robeson himself sang it, strong and full all the way from the lowest rumbling notes near the beginning to the high-soaring notes closing the song out. I find my notes pretty well for the intro portion – “Dere’s an ol’ man called de Mississippi…” – if I first quietly hum to myself the main beginning – “Ol’ man river, Dat ol’ man river…”
  • I’m sticking with the good ol’ South ebonics, or whatever they call the style of Robeson’s version from Showboat. There’s no way the song sound right putting a D – even a soft D – at the end of “ol’.” And once I sing “Ol’ man river,” it sounds as silly and inconsistent to “whitewash” the rest of the enunciation and grammar as it would be to keep a “thee” in Shakespeare while modernizing everything else. So give me it jes de way it go.
  • On “jail,” I will want to drop the note down into the basement. Except that if the karaoke version runs through that segment a second time, then on the repeat I will hold the note as Robeson does.
  • I was having trouble with my R on “river” until I began exaggerating it down to “rivah.” It doesn’t sound right as “rivah” and of course shouldn’t be “rivah,” but practicing it with “rivah” even once first thing in the morning softens my R enough to last me the whole rest of the day giving me “river” the way I want.
  • I’m getting my “ol'” the way I want if I go hard on my L. Hold the O as long as I need for singing my vowel, yes, but bend down over that L to the M in “man” like I”m bending down a nail with my tongue. At first I thought this might be like my R in “river” – something to exaggerate a time or two to get the feel, then back off to the real thing – but no, it’s almost impossible to overbend that L without getting downright comedian about it, so I can risk going after it as much as I want in the performance version.

More notes to come. Currently I’m practicing this maybe 6-10 times each day.

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Written by macheide

17 July 2014 at 2:55 pm

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