Category Archives: Favourites

Sangre de Muerdago: A Chamada da Néboa

Republished because love and cooperation is what we all need right now:

When you want to see international cooperation in action, look to music. Asia Kindred Moore (American harpist), Georg Börner from Germany, playing a Swedish Nyckelharpa, Erich Heimansberg (German flute player) and Pablo Ursusson, Galician songwriter and singer, sing in Galego, the language of Pablo’s home. Together they make up Sangre de Muerdago. And when the American and the Germans need to harmonise with Pablo in Galego, they do, just fine. This song is called A Chamada da Néboa/The Call of the Mist:

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Lighting every step on the Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven is a classic choice for song contests.  If English is your native language, don’t take the words of this song for granted. If English isn’t your native language, don’t take the words of this song for granted. The words matter.

They matter, but they’re not a liturgy.  Dave Grohl captures the heart of the song without reciting every word in order. Or at all:

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Hamlet or Tarzan? The choice is yours.

Verbs bring language to life. If you don’t pronounce English verbs when you sing, your song will be as dead as an ex-parrot.

“Ha!” you retort. “Do you think I’m stupid? Of course I sing the verbs, all the verbs: do, love, fall, believe, sigh, echo, sparkle. Any verb a song requires. Name a single verb that I’ve missed. Speak.”

Easy. The M verb.

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Bend, Stretch and Chop with Frankie Valli. Or lose your job.

Imagine this: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are on tour in your country. One of the singers falls off stage at the soundcheck and breaks their leg. You’re the last-minute replacement. This could be your big break.

Frankie makes a last minute change to the set list. He adds The Night. You don’t know the song, but you smile at Frankie anyway. “My favourite song,” you say. You feel sick.

A roadie hands you a dog-eared copy of the score, with all the latest additions to the song. Frankie smiles. You gulp. Read the lyrics now. The first thing you notice? An awful lot of words.

If English isn’t your first language, it can be difficult, when you sing, to know where to bend words or break lines without damaging their integrity. You’ll need to squeeze, stretch and chop in all the right places if you want the words to fit the music in The Night. You’ll lose the job if you don’t get it right.

Smile. Borrow Frankie’s diamond-studded pencil. Get to work. Find a private corner. Listen to The Night. Mark your lyrics to show where the strongest stress falls in each line. That’ll be your scaffolding :

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Desmond Dekker: to D, or not to D?

Once you’ve got the English /ð/ sound right, you can play around with it. Here’s Desmond Dekker singing Israelites. He sings a standard English /ð/ at the beginning of that, but listen to the way he sings the /ð/ of the. Is he singing a /ð/ or a /d/?:

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