Category Archives: Phrasing/Articulation

Sing if you’re happy that way, hey

When you think of the English word happy, how do you imagine it? A hop and a skip across the double p, with a spring up into the air on the y? That typical Pharrell Williams-style happy.

Now listen to Tom Robinson’s happy. A shadow version:

Continue reading Sing if you’re happy that way, hey


Juliet Russell’s recording tips

I was impressed by Juliet Russell‘s friendly, practical and purposeful words about the singing voice on BBC’s Saturday Live yesterday. I looked her up on YouTube and found this video. If you’re thinking of making a recording in English, it’s well worth watching:

Continue reading Juliet Russell’s recording tips

Singing as slowly as a bird

One of 2015’s Brighton Festival treasures was Marcus Coate’s Dawn Chorus at Fabrica.

Imagine 14 humans, each in its ‘natural habitat’ (taxi, bath-tub, kitchen), sounding (and looking) like Northumbrian birds. The sound is all human, the speed is all bird:

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The Unthanks and the Magpie song

I don’t know if the Magpie counting song exists outside England. It goes: 1 for sorrow, 2 for joy, 3 for a girl, 4 for a boy, 5 for silver, 6 for gold, 7 for a secret never to be told.

The Unthanks were on Jools Holland recently, singing Magpie. I could paint this post as an appreciation of different English accents (the Unthank sisters are from the Anglo Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria), but I think their gorgeous voices are enough of a reason to share the video:

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The musical wisdom of crowds

It’s British election time and the air is buzzing with political people. You learn a lot about the natural rhythms of the English language when you look at the names and nicknames that settle gently around the shoulders of our politicians. Rarely by their own choice.

Public names are chosen by the public. To please the public ear.

Once a politician begins to attract public attention, we behave like presumptuous grandparents, trying out different versions of the names their parents gave them. Aided and abetted by the media.


The difference between us and the grandparents is that we have the  melody of the politician’s full name (first name and surname too) on our minds.

Consider these political Edwards: Ed Miliband, Ted Heath and Ted Kennedy. Try swapping things around: Ed Kennedy or Ted Miliband.  Are they still easy and pleasing to say? Or does a helping of English T change the mouthfeel of a name, for good or ill? Continue reading The musical wisdom of crowds