Category Archives: Pop

Nothing Like a Friend

When you sing in English, small words offer big opportunities. They can stretch and dance in song. Give them room; pay them attention.  Be ready for Russian doll words: tiny words that appear then reappear, nestled inside bigger, emotion-carrying words. Listen to tiny ‘in‘, working alone and within:

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Paul McCartney

If you’re a musician, a songwriter, or simply a lover of music, you’ll find Paul McCartney’s extended interview/Q&A on BBC Radio 4’s “Mastertapes” fascinating.

The longer, downloadable radio version is here.

The video version is edited, with about 10 minutes removed, so, if you like A Day in the Life, find 24:25 minutes into the radio interview. McCartney talks about the shared songwriting with Lennon, about John Cage’s influence on the sound and about George Martin persuading the orchestra to follow unusual musical instructions. Paul says one member of the orchestra walked out in disgust when he was asked to ‘clap on the end of Hey Jude‘.

There’s something for everyone! If you teach music to children,  Paul has suggestions for inspiring lessons here.

© Sing Better English, 2016

 

The Letter and the Aeroplane

“The only thing I ever told that young man to do was sing ‘aeroplane’ instead of ‘airplane’ on ‘The Letter’— I was just tryin’ to make it flow better.”

Dan Penn, producer.

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Fire – Five Ways

English words are like onions, when you sing. Chop them, roast them whole, caramelise them, scatter them as crunchy red raw rings on a salad. They never stop being onions, but you’re in charge of the flavour and the texture they provide.

Fire is a classic onion. We all know what fire is. It’s the singer’s job to make us feel what fire ‘is’ in their song.

Arthur Brown sings a powerful, all-encompassing fire. The fire of myth. Wicker Man, Hell-fire, Prometheus. Fire as pure element. Fi-ya:

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Shura: What’s it Gonna Be?

When a songwriter crosses the Atlantic to borrow an English word, it’s always strategic. Think of David Bowie here.

Shura‘s British, of Russian heritage, so why does she choose gonnaGonna is American colloquial English. The British version is gunna.

Why reject the ‘correct’ English version: What’s it Going to Be?  Because gonna flows where going to would trip and tangle. Gonna offers a simple, double schwa sound, a light, uncomplicated meaning and an extra touch of ‘cool’:

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