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:
Eliza Carthy weaves the ay, oy and y sounds of The Good Old Way into a mesmerising tapestry of serious hope. The lines are short, most end in a y, but The Good Old Way is from repetitive. Y is one of those sounds that a singer can stretch, smooth, relish or dismiss:
If you sing in English, give y, and every sound it’s part of: ey, oy, ay, ry, ty etc. good attention. Y can fly or it can dampen. Y can be soft and romantic or it can be a clipped end to hope. It’s up to you.
El Naán choose their words to enhance the beat of their hands and the strength of their message. You don’t need to speak Spanish to understand them. The sounds of the words speak for themselves: a human language. Filmed in a single take:
When you sing in English, to an audience that isn’t fluent in the language, you can’t rely on the exact meaning of the words to carry the weight of the song for you. You need to weave meaning into the sounds you sing. Each syllable of sound is a thread of colour in the tapestry of your song, for you to highlight or to hide. For the benefit of that single audience member who doesn’t speak English, or for the whole audience if your microphone’s not as good as it should be.
Watch Oum, blending soul and jazz with her own gnawa and sahrawi traditions, to beautiful effect. You don’t need to understand the words to ‘understand’ the song. So, without the ‘meaning’, where is the meaning? I’d say that some of it is in the way Oum extends her vowel sounds until they float away, like smoke: